Death and dying: request for resources

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Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Ben » Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:23 am

Hi all

I am wondering whether you can help me.
I've been asked by the chaplain of the school I work to prepare a presentation that represents the Buddhist approach to death and dying.
The audience is for senior school students (15-17) as part of their religious education. Its a very progressive school and a very progressive chaplain.
So, what I am looking for is material that will be appropriate for the audience and is engaging.
I'm up for print as well as video resources. I think its only going to be one session, I don't think I'll have time to represent all Buddhist traditions in their various approaches to death and dying.
I have thought about presenting the cemetary contemplations from the satipatthana sutta (and accompanying imagery) but I think it could give the students a skewed impression of what Buddhism is. Also, I don't want the presentation to be overly dry and academic. I want the audience, who may have absolutely no interest in Buddhism or religion, to be interested.

I would appreciate your assistance.
Metta

Ben
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:51 am

The wheel of death: A collection of writings from Zen Buddhist and other sources on death--rebirth--dying by Philip Kapleau. It is no longer in print, but it should be available cheaply used. It is a good source book for what you are looking for.

Also:

http://www.zenhospice.org/

Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying by Stephen Levine
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.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Ben » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:06 am

Thanks mate!
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:09 am

Greetings Ben,

For a summary on the Buddha's perspective on how to approach the question of death and dying, I think it's hard to go past this classic.

Sn 3.8: Salla Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

There's also an interesting Dhamma talk somewhere that Ajahn Chah gave to a dying person. I'll have a poke around and see if I can find that too. Oh, here it is...

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Artic ... _Cobra.htm

Metta,
Paul. :)
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


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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby zavk » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:25 am

Hi Ben

I can only think of a Zen resource too. Roshi Joan Halifax of Upaya Zen Center has worked extensively in end of life care programs. I'm sure you can find some resources (I recall listening to one of her podcasts about death and dying) if you search on Google.
With metta,
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby pink_trike » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:50 am

Hi Ben,

One of the most accessible, plain-speaking books I'm familiar with on death from a Buddhist perspective is:

Making Friends with Death by Judith L. Lief

She very calmly and clearly talks about death in the context of life. It was written for Westerners, and she doesn't get all buddhisty and religious about it...she talks matter-of-factly about the inevitability of death, about our fears, acceptance of death, the actual process of death, and being present in the dying process...all from a Buddhist perspective. It's a gem of a book and easy to read.

Here's an example of one of the practices in the book, regarding the contemplation of death:

===========================

A GUIDED CONTEMPLATION OF DEATH

The practice of contemplating death should be done slowly and methodically. Do not rush. During the practice, when your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the topic at hand, much as you would bring your mind back to your breath in mindfulness practice. Keep it simple and personal. All you need to do is go through the text step by step and reflect on what is said.

Begin by sitting quietly for five to ten minutes.

Repeat three times (silently or aloud): "Death is real. It comes without warning. No one escapes it. My body will soon become a corpse."

Read each paragraph and reflect on it.

Pay attention. Do not let your mind wander.

Think of someone who has died or is about to die. Notice how you feel. Notice the sorrow you feel to lose people you love, the relieve you feel to lose someone you dislike or someone who has become a burden, and the indifference you feel to lose people you don't know or care about.

Think of your own death. It is certain that you, too, will die. Imagine that your death is right before you, as close as if a murderer were holding a knife at your throat or you were walking down the corridor to your own execution.

Cultivate mindfulness and pay attention.

Think of the friends you have lost already and those you will lose in the future, for you will lose them all. Think of the possessions you have acquired so lovingly, for soon you will have none of them. Think of the projects you will never complete, the places you will never see, the answers you will never know.

Think of your body and how it is aging, how it is prey to sickness and stress. Remember that you will lose your body one day, that it will become cold and stiff, a corpse to be buried or burned.

Keep in mind that death comes to everyone. Rich or poor, famous or ordinary, wise or ignorant, every single living being faces death. Think of how hard all beings large and small struggle to live.

Think of the frailty of all forms of life. The slightest mistake can end a life, and a minute change in the environment can make whole species disappear. Think of the many close calls you have had in which only your good luck kept you alive and how your luck can easily turn.

Think how unpredictable death is. You do not know how long your life will be. You do not know in what manner you will die. And you don't know with whom you will be when you face your death, with friends or complete strangers.

Think of the limited extent of your life and how quickly it will pass. Think of the the many beings whose life spans are even shorter than yours, such as your pet dog or cat, or the little insects who live less than a day. Think of the many lives lost in the time it takes to do this exercise.

Now imagine that you are in your final decline and your death will happen within days. Think of what it must be like to know that it is no longer a dream but a reality. It is right in front of you.

Now imagine that your death is not days away, but it is coming this very day, within hours. Sense it approaching you.

Now let it come closer still, to the instant of drawing your last breath. Think of the shortness of that moment.

Now sit quietly and feel each breath as it goes in and out. Feel the life of each breath, how vivid it is and how it dissolves into the space around you. Note the gap as one breath dies and the next has not yet come. Feel the incredible momentum of life, the rhythm of one breath after another, going in and out. Feel the way in which you contact your death at this very moment with each breath you take. Rest in the immediacy and simplicity of that experience

To close, repeat three times (silently or aloud): Having contemplating the reality of death, may I face death fearlessly and help others through this difficult transition. May I participate fully in the ongoing dance of life and death. May I never forget the preciousness of life.

[I should add that Judith trained and practices in the Tibetan tradition...but, death is death in all traditions]

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Friends-Death-Encountering-Mortality/dp/1570623325/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252291420&sr=8-1
Image
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Dan74 » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:13 am

Sogyal Rinpoche's The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying has some relevant material, I think.

Good luck, Ben!

_/|\_

PS I'd also do a search of ESangha, there might be good quotes, reflections and references there too.
_/|\_
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:38 am

Ben wrote:I have thought about presenting the cemetary contemplations from the satipatthana sutta (and accompanying imagery) but I think it could give the students a skewed impression of what Buddhism is. Also, I don't want the presentation to be overly dry and academic. I want the audience, who may have absolutely no interest in Buddhism or religion, to be interested.


Hi Ben,

I agree, the cemetery contemplations would probably give the wrong impression on Buddhism. In the past I have received numerous e-mails, phone calls, etc. of people asking me why Buddhism has such a thing, from beginners who were fresh from Western religious backgrounds and associated the 'fascination' with cemeteries and death with something almost Satanic (in their minds).

Mindfulness of death can be a good topic though and one story from the Suttas I always liked is the 'blind sea-turtle' story of the likelihood of being reborn human again if we waste this golden opportunity.
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:35 am

apart from a book on a chinese buddhist funeral on buddhanet I'll attach another doc I came accross bellow!

you may want to contact the Amiravati Lay budhist ascociation who are developing allong with the help of the sangha hospital chaplins so they may be able to help?
Attachments
CareOfDyingAndDead.pdf
(115.1 KiB) Downloaded 30 times
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby cooran » Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:59 am

Hello Ben,

A search on Buddhanet.net will give you 252 links to buddhist resources on death and dying - here is the link:
http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&o ... dhanet.net

metta
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby cooran » Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:19 am

Hello Ben,

I really like Ajahn Jagaro's "Death and Dying" - and he talks about the Aussie attitude:
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha257.htm

metta
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:32 am

retrofuturist wrote:There's also an interesting Dhamma talk somewhere that Ajahn Chah gave to a dying person. I'll have a poke around and see if I can find that too. Oh, here it is...

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Artic ... _Cobra.htm

Metta,
Paul. :)


I read this, thanks a lot. Good link.

:anjali:
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Aloka » Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:37 am

.

Hi Ben,

There are some useful resources about death and funeral advice for Buddhists which might be of some help to you, on this Tibetan Buddhist website. This particular centre has various support systems in place for the dying and the dead, and for dealing with the body afterwards.

You might only want to present a Theravada perspective of course. However it might be useful to take a look just in case you want to mention the approach of another tradition, especially as some of the students might possibly have heard of Tibetan Buddhism.


http://www.samyeling.org/index.php?module=Pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=30&pid=18


There's also some information about a connected support group here:

http://www.londonbardogroup.com/services.html


Kind regards,

Dazzle :anjali:
Last edited by Aloka on Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Aloka » Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:05 am

There are also these extracts from the book "Living, Dreaming, Dying " by Rob Nairn which might be useful in some way. He has trained in western psychology as well as Tibetan Buddhism and he integrates some of the insights of Jungian psychology in with the teachings.

Again, its not Theravada - but it might be best to be prepared in case you're asked any questions !


Helping the dying:
http://www.samyeling.org/index.php?module=Pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=11&pid=74

Helping the dead:
http://www.samyeling.org/index.php?module=Pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=11&pid=73

Extract from the book:
http://www.samyeling.org/index.php?module=Pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=11&pid=75


:anjali:
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Ben » Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:32 am

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
You really are the best! You've given me more then enough to contemplate and use.

For the benefit of all who come here, I encourage you all to continue to leave your various resources here.
I'll also have a look at whatever else is offered.
My talk is a little way off yet, so there's no rush.
Metta

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby genkaku » Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:08 pm

Hi Ben -- You probably have more than enough to shape your presentation, but your question put me in mind of an article the Zen teacher Joshu Sasaki once wrote. I can't remember if death was the focal point, but I do remember that he wrote about death to some extent.

One of the things he asked for, rather plaintively, was that westerners find a better word than "death." "Death" had a kind of finality and a kind of reliability that seemed to leave a sour taste in his mouth. It offered a fulcrum with which to frighten and perhaps threaten people, all of whom, as Gautama noted, "fear death." Scaring people is a cheap date.

By way of suggestion, Sasaki mentioned the word "senge," a term used for when a Buddhist monk died. He translated the word as meaning, "to change the place from which the Dharma (truth) is spoken." It's not as if the Dharma could not be spoken.

Oh well ... I was thinking that if you subtracted all the Buddhist trappings from this approach, it might be useful to your young listeners. But the approach does demand a kind of attentive investigation that anyone, Buddhist or otherwise, might be reluctant to engage.

Just chalk this post up to more blither. :smile:

I'm sure you'll do a good job.
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Ben » Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:13 pm

Thanks Adam for your thought-provoking response,
and thanks also for your words of confidence.
Metta
Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby vitellius » Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:33 pm

Hello Ben and all,

you may find useful these materials:
http://www.c2rc.org/papers.php
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Re: Death and dying: request for resources

Postby Moggalana » Thu Sep 10, 2009 9:27 pm

Ajahn Brahm - Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... yfully.htm
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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