We start our lives in chaos, in babble. As we surge up into the world, we try to devise a shape, a plan. There is dignity in this. Your whole life is a plot, a scheme, a diagram. It is a failed scheme but that's not the point. To plot is to affirm life, to seek shape and control. Even after death, most particularly after death, the search continues. Burial rites are an attempt to complete the scheme, in ritual. Picture a state funeral. It is all precision, detail, order, design. The nation holds its breath. The efforts of a huge and powerful government are brought to bear on a ceremony that will shed the last trace of chaos. If all geos well, if they bring it off, some natural law of perfection is obeyed. The nation is delivered from anxiety, the deceased's life is redeemed, life itself is strengthened, reaffirmed
Three Friends There were three friends Discussing life. One said: "Can we live together and know nothing of it? Work together and produce nothing? Can people fly around in space and still forget to exist World without end?" The three friends looked at each other and burst out laughing. They had no explanation. Thus they were better friends than before. Then one friend died. Confucius sent a disciple to help the other two Chant the traditional funeral ritual. His disciple found that one of them had composed a song. While the other played the lute, They sang: "Hey, Sung Hu! Where'd you go? You have gone Where you were before. And we are here-- Damn it! We are here!" Then the disciple of Confucius burst in on them and exclaimed: "May I inquire where in the funeral ritual it allows you to sing so irreverently in the presence of the departed?" The two friends looked at each other, smiled, and said: "Well trained in liturgy, but the poor fellow doesn't understand life and death!"
Paraphrased: When Chuang Tzu was about to die, his disciples began planning a splendid funeral. However some disciples expressed concern that given a particular arrangement, birds and kites would eat his remains. Chuang Tzu replied, "Well, above ground I shall be eaten by crows and kites, below it by ants and worms. What do you have against birds?"
When Chuang Tzu was about to die, his disciples signified their wish to give him a grand burial. 'I shall have heaven and earth for my coffin and its shell; the sun and moon for my two round symbols of jade, the stars and constellations for my pearls and jewels; and all things assisting as the mourners. Will not the provisions for my funeral be complete? What could you add to them?'
LAUREATE, adj. Crowned with leaves of the laurel. In England the Poet Laureate is an officer of the sovereign's court, acting as dancing skeleton at every royal feast and singing-mute at every royal funeral.