Fixin' to die

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
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tiltbillings
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Fixin' to die

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:02 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/healt ... ss&emc=rss

This article addresses Christians, but how do you think devout Buddhists would - or should - respond to end of life situations?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:39 pm

I would sooner be known for embracing life, than embracing death!
When the time comes the time comes, whether I am ready or not.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby clw_uk » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:48 pm

Depends really, if there was chance of getting better i would take it but if it was just prolonging the inevitable i think i would just concede to death, but it all depends on how my state of mind is at the time
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby Rui Sousa » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:16 pm

The article is interesting because the study seems to go against the common sense that religion helps people die more peacefully.

I believe that if in our mind there is still a desire to become, we will suffer in the end and try to prolong live.

Even more, if we think we could be reborn in hell, then I believe we would must certainly try to avoid that moment by all means.

By developing Sila we create the conditions for a better rebirth, but also for an easier letting go of this live. Becoming an Aryian prevents rebirth in the lower realms, and as Venerable Mahasi Saydaw said:

On coming across the Teaching of the Buddha, it is most important for everyone to cultivate the virtues of moral conduct (sila), concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (pañña). One should undoubtedly possess these three virtues.

For laypeople the minimal measure of moral conduct is the observance of the Five Precepts. For bhikkhus it is the observance of the Patimokkha, the code of monastic discipline. Anyone who is well-disciplined in moral conduct will be reborn in a happy realm of existence as a human being or a deva (god).

However, this ordinary form of mundane morality (lokiya-sila) will not be a safeguard against relapse into the lower states of miserable existence, such as hell, the animal realm, or the realm of petas (ghosts). It is therefore desirable to cultivate the higher form of supramundane morality (lokuttara-sila). When one has fully acquired the virtue of this morality, one will be secure from relapse into the lower states and will always lead a happy life by being reborn as a human being or a deva. Everyone should therefore make it his duty to work for supramundane morality.
(..)




Much more on the rest of the text:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mahasi/wheel370.html

So, our response for our end of life should begin... now!
With Metta

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby clw_uk » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:20 pm

Ajahn Brahm once commented on how religous people tend to be uneasy during death, he said it could be because they perceive they are about to be judged and either sent to heaven or condemed to hell for eternity while atheists tend not to worry to much since all the expect is oblivion

He made a joke about being nervous before an interview, which i think could accurately describe the apparent aprehension of the relgiously devout near death, worried about if there going to be given eternal pleasure or eternal torture (this of course depends on what religous doctrine they believe in)



:anjali:
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:43 pm

Rui Sousa wrote:The article is interesting because the study seems to go against the common sense that religion helps people die more peacefully.

I believe that if in our mind there is still a desire to become, we will suffer in the end and try to prolong life.

That is interesting. It perhaps shows that faith is not enough to allay our fears of death. From a theistic perspective, those dying will be going to God and the Kingdom of heaven, what is there to fear? But faith is superficial and when put to the test, perhaps some quiver at the thought and really don't know what will happen.

In the Dhamma we have faith (Saddhā), but it is more of a faith in the Tathagatha and confidence in the teachings. Insights, not faith are the goals for the Dhamma.

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:49 pm

There is a Zen story where some students asked the Zen master what he will be doing during his own dying process. The Zen master responded, "I'll be kicking and screaming for dear life." :tantrum:

The students responded, "Whaa, I thought you were a Zen master?" The master responded, "Yes, but not a dead one. Until it comes, I really don't know how I'll react or what will happen."

In light of the somewhat importance given to the last thought moments, I suppose deep meditation would be the ideal. :meditate:

But who knows what we will really do until put to the test.

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:02 pm

TheDhamma wrote:There is a Zen story where some students asked the Zen master what he will be doing during his own dying process. The Zen master responded, "I'll be kicking and screaming for dear life." :tantrum:

The students responded, "Whaa, I thought you were a Zen master?" The master responded, "Yes, but not a dead one. Until it comes, I really don't know how I'll react or what will happen."

In light of the somewhat importance given to the last thought moments, I suppose deep meditation would be the ideal. :meditate:

But who knows what we will really do until put to the test.


Just my humble 2c but I don't think that is good enough - not knowing something is the same fault as having a view about it which is incorrect.

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:20 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:Just my humble 2c but I don't think that is good enough - not knowing something is the same fault as having a view about it which is incorrect.

I agree. I put the Zen story just for some humor. It is best to have the realizations and insights, so we will not have to worry about "what happens." :meditate:

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:56 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:Just my humble 2c but I don't think that is good enough - not knowing something is the same fault as having a view about it which is incorrect.

I agree. I put the Zen story just for some humor. It is best to have the realizations and insights, so we will not have to worry about "what happens." :meditate:

Dang I am humor-ly challenged. :toilet:

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:30 pm

Greetings,

By that stage I suspect I'll be more concerned with my present state of mind than whether I'm going to live for one more day or a week.

You can't be happy and sad at the same time.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Ben
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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:46 pm

Nice topic Tilt

I had just finished an email to a friend on the dubious morality of euthanasia when I saw the title of this thread which reminded me of an old Bob Dylan song:

Fixin' To Die (Bukka White)

Feeling funny in my mind, Lord,
I believe I'm fixing to die, fixing to die
Feeling funny in my mind, Lord
I believe I'm fixing to die
Well, I don't mind dying
But I hate to leave my children crying
Well, I look over yonder to that burying ground
Look over yonder to that burying ground
Sure seems lonesome, Lord, when the sun goes down

Feeling funny in my eyes, Lord,
I believe I'm fixing to die, fixing to die
Feeling funny in my eyes, Lord
I believe I'm fixing to die
Well, I don't mind dying but
I hate to leave my children crying
There's a black smoke rising, Lord
It's rising up above my head, up above my head
It's rising up above my head, up above my head
And tell Jesus make up my dying bed.

I'm walking kind of funny, Lord
I believe I'm fixing to die, fixing to die
Yes I'm walking kind of funny, Lord
I believe I'm fixing to die
Fixing to die, fixing to die
Well, I don't mind dying
But I hate to leave my children crying.


The article does seem to be based on the experience of Christian spirituality and it would be interesting to see if a similar study on terminally ill Buddhists would have a similar outcome.
Kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:35 pm

I think I remember a story about Mother Theresa having a crisis of faith when she was facing death, and she was even unsure of the existence of the Christian God. The end of this life really shakes things up inside people.

When I was a kid I was a Christian. I had so much confidence in what I believed; I was so sure. My mother was dying and she had always been an agnostic non-practicing Jew. She asked me what I thought would happen to her when she died. I talked to her a lot about heaven and God. She asked why I was so sure about it, and how could I know? I think to some extent my total faith that she would be safe and protected and free helped her to die with less fear. I was so young, but I think I helped her.

Of course I was totally wrong, I realize now. But at least I gave her some comfort. And she didn't prolong her suffering beyond what was normal and reasonable. When the fight was over, it was over and she went off as peacefully as someone could.

:anjali:

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby clw_uk » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:39 pm

I think I remember a story about Mother Theresa having a crisis of faith when she was facing death, and she was even unsure of the existence of the Christian God.



I think she had this for quite a few years in her life



Metta
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby sukhamanveti » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:52 pm

To my mind the most significant sentence in the article is this: "Aggressive end-of-life care can lead to a more painful process of dying, researchers have found, and greater shock and grief for the family members left behind." Evidently, "life-prolonging care" in one's final week of life only makes everything worse. It causes greater suffering for oneself and for others. Therefore, according to the Buddha (MN 19) it is unskillful and not proper for one who practices the Dhamma. It would seem that it is best to continue to cultivate wholesome mind states on one's way out of the world, to reflect on the good that one has done, and to accept the truth of the first part of the Buddha's final words ("Subject to decay are all compounded things...").

Ed
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:47 am

clw_uk wrote:
I think I remember a story about Mother Theresa having a crisis of faith when she was facing death, and she was even unsure of the existence of the Christian God.


I think she had this for quite a few years in her life


I find that interesting. Maybe because she's seen as an icon of compassion, I think. But I'm not that familiar with Christian figures.

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Re: Fixin' to die

Postby Fede » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:48 am

This is precisely why the Vatican has stopped short of declaring her a Saint, due to her 'Good Works'.
Because of her numerous writings in her diaries of her questioning her faith and God's existence.....
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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