Death & Dying

Powerful end-of-life practices and compassionate care
  • Tricycle Community 14 comments

    After the Future Paid Member

    A commonplace of Buddhist history holds that wherever the dharma goes—from Mongolia to Thailand, from Afghanistan to Vietnam—it adapts to the local scene in a spirit of accommodation. But there is another way to explain the dharma’s ability to take root in very different societies. At crucial turning points, Buddhism has arrived in the nick of time to save its hosts from cultural paralysis. A good example comes from the Tang dynasty, where for centuries Buddhism was confined to urban enclaves. Then a catastrophe, the An Lushan rebellion, forced many ordinary Chinese to rethink their fundamental values. Crisis alone, it’s important to see, wasn’t enough to generate the necessary change; the Chinese had to use new tools supplied from outside the cultural mainstream—that is, by the dharma. More »
  • Tricycle Community 7 comments

    On What Is Most Important Paid Member

  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    Flowers for the Dead Paid Member

    I gather flowers for the dead. I have been at this shady harvest for more than 30 years, training with the best: Martha deBarros from the Zen Hospice Project of San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC); Frank Ostaseski, cofounder of Zen Hospice and founder of the Metta Institute; and Roshi Joan Halifax, founder of Upaya Zen Center’s Being With Dying program. We practice light and grave accord with the dead. Holding solemn ground at the threshold of the Great Matter, we are also intimate and joyful. More »
  • Tricycle Community 3 comments

    Because We Can Paid Member

    In inpatient oncology, the pace is sustained but rarely as frenzied as in the ICUs. Our cancer patients tend to stay longer for treatment, or return when fevers or blood counts need monitoring. Working here as a chaplain gives me the time and continuity to begin a conversation around pets, families, recipes, and local sports, and channel the flow into faith, suffering, mortality, and meaning. These encounters provide a fertile environment where bodhicitta—awakening heart—can blossom, but they also tend to jerk me right out of my “feeling-enough-to-be-effective-without-being-over-or-underwhelmed” comfort zone. Permeability can be painful; sometimes I wish I could swaddle my heart. More »
  • Lost in Capitulation Paid Member

    A life-affirming Buddhism that teaches us to find happiness by opening to the richness of our everyday lives. That's what we want—or so we're told by the people who try to sell us a mainstreamlined Buddhism. But is it what we need? And is it Buddhism? More »
  • Accepting the Unacceptable Paid Member

    Over the last century or so, death has been becoming increasingly institutionalized and removed from immediate experience. It is no longer a common experience in concrete terms. Where people used to die at home in the past, this is no longer the case, and the usual gathering of relatives and family no longer takes place spontaneously. It is no longer a communal affair, but on the contrary, it is hidden from public view, resulting in less actual contact with death and dying. Perversely, the literature on death and dying has been growing considerably, and people are actually talking about it more and more, while handling the practical fact less and less. The irony of this situation is described by Ray Anderson, a Christian theologian, in his book Theology, Death, and Dying: More »