Death & Dying

Powerful end-of-life practices and compassionate care
  • Tricycle Community 7 comments

    The Counselor Paid Member

    Buddhist priests in Japan have always dealt closely with death. They are the officiants at funerals for the majority of the population, counselors to the grieving, and partners through the long series of memorial services that follow a death. Yet few priests have made it their business to confront suicide, which last year claimed close to 28,000 lives in Japan. Ittetsu Nemoto is an exception. “If one path leads toward suicide, I want to do anything I can to lead people in the opposite direction,” says Nemoto, who serves as chief priest at Daizenji, a small temple nestled between rice fields and forested hills in rural Gifu Prefecture. More »
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    A Life Too Long Paid Member

    On an autumn day in 2007, while I was visiting from northern California, my mother made a request I dreaded and longed to fulfill. She’d just poured me a cup of tea from her Japanese teapot; beyond the kitchen window, two cardinals splashed in her birdbath in the weak Connecticut sunlight. Her white hair was gathered at the nape of her neck, and her voice was low. She put a hand on my arm. “Please help me get your father’s pacemaker turned off,” she said. I met her eyes, and my heart knocked.  More »
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    So the Darkness Shall Be the Light Paid Member

    The thing that most made my internship at a preeminent Harvard community hospital seem like a descent into what Buddhists call the hungry ghost realm was coming face to face with the limits in our modern medical approach to the natural process of aging and dying. A disturbing experience with a dying patient one night when I was on call left an indelible impression that will forever remind me of those limits. More »
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    The Last Gift Paid Member

    Ajahn Chah recorded the following talk at the request of one of his students, whose mother was on her deathbed. The student had expected no more than a few words for his mother, but instead Ajahn Chah offered an extended message of consolation, encouragement, and meditation instruction for the mother and the whole family. Now, Grandma, set your heart on listening respectfully to the dhamma, which is the teaching of the Buddha. While I’m teaching you the dhamma, be as attentive as if the Buddha himself were sitting right in front of you. Close your eyes and set your heart on making your mind one. Bring the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha into your heart as a way of showing the Buddha respect. More »
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    How a Buddhist Can Prepare for Death Paid Member

    Each of us will enter the Painful Bardo of Dying and Death, some of us sooner than later. Why not prepare for this event now, while you still are able to do so?  In this retreat, you will be offered practical tools to help plan this process, including completion of advance care directives, will and estate planning, death care options for Buddhists, and Tonglen, Nine Contemplations of Atisha, Essential Phowa Practice, and Dissolution of the Elements instruction. If you allow yourself this opportunity to consider your own death with clarity, lovingkindness, compassion and tenderness, you will learn to move beyond—beyond fear, apprehension, and denial, and into an acceptance and understanding of the nature of impermanence. Your willingness to do this will be a gift to your loved ones, as you will then be able to leave them with the information they will need to continue their support when you cannot speak for yourself. Retreat begins November 6, 2012. More »
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    Death As A Mirror Paid Member

    A beloved father is tended by his daughter; a young man's partner dies of AIDS; an ex-lover cares for a victim of leukemia. In these and other stories, Buddhists talk about how their practice supported the as they cared for those they loved. With teaching from Judith L. Lief, Frank Ostaseski, Philip Kapleau, and Sogyal Rinpoche.Judith Lief on Beginning at the BeginningRaja Hornstein's A Caregiver's StoryJudith Lief on the Contagious Power of PresenceFrank Ostaseski on What to Do When the Going More »