Death & Dying

Powerful end-of-life practices and compassionate care
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    In The News Paid Member

    Change Your Mind Day 1997 Longtime practitioners, meditators-for-a-day, dharma bums, and dog walkers turned out for Tricycle’s fourth annual Change Your Mind Day on May 31. The afternoon of free, informal, introductory instruction is organized each year to introduce people of all backgrounds to meditation practice. For five hours, the Great Hill, a secluded and grassy slope at the north end of New York City’s Central Park, was transformed into a sea of cross-legged sitters and bare-chested sun worshippers drawn by the stillness. Despite overcast skies and predictions of rain, more than 1,200 people participated in this year’s activities, which included guided meditations from a variety of Buddhist traditions, contemplative movement, music, and a traditional Tibetan geshe debate. More »
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    Arizona Killing Fields Paid Member

    On Saturday morning, August 10, 1991, Chawee Borders and her sister Somjit went to the monastery to cook food for monks, the most basic Thai devotional practice. She was late. Approximately 2,500 years ago the Buddha ruled in the Vinaya that monks cannot eat after 11 a.m. As she rushed to the kitchen and began to cook, Chawee noticed the orange-clothed figures lying in a circle on the floor. They were sleeping late, she thought, as she began to cook. Perhaps they were new monks who had arrived late the night before. Then she considered that something else was amiss. She left her sister cooking in the kitchen in order to take a closer look, and she saw that one monk was lying with his body touching the body of a nun, a serious offense according to the Vinaya. Somjit came out and saw the blood. More »
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    Daughters of the Wind Paid Member

    EVERY YEAR around the spring equinox, the prevailing westerly winds begin to gust, battering the California coast just a scant half-mile from Green Gulch Farm. These westerlies are a swollen river of air moving across the face of the Pacific, blowing shoreline sand into long drifts and heaving spindrift spume against the dark bulk of the March headlands. More »
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    Death Becomes Us Paid Member

    Imagine that a great sage arrives in the West to give the secret teachings on living and dying. Thousands of people pack the stadium. The master says: “We are born. We die. The sooner you understand this, the better off you are.” Then he stands up and bows good-bye. But everyone gets angry and says, "We already know that. We want our money back." So he sighs and continues. Perhaps the sage quotes from the historical Buddha (p. 20) or from the Tibetan master, Dilgo Khyentse (p. 23). Maybe he discusses particular practices (see Brown, Rosenberg, Sogyal Rinpoche) or suggests contemplating the reminder that Rick Fields repeats (p. 42): “Death is real. It comes without warning. This body too will be a corpse.” More »
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    Into Emptiness Paid Member

    At first it was a shock to see her. She didn't look the same at all. Her face was ashen and all puffed up from the chemotherapy or radiation. Her arms were huge from it, her hair was matted and a different color, her voice had gone all croaky and harsh, and the medication had got her mixed up and disconnected. She'd sit up in bed all of a sudden, beside herself with anger or frustration, and yell to my Aunt Adeline, "No, turn me over, not that way, this way, no, not that way, I said like this, like that." Adeline and my father, and my Aunt Sylvia all looked at one another and at me. She'd go in and out of consciousness. She'd see things. She'd say, "Don't let them make you do anything you don't want to." She said, "You all think I'm crazy, but I know what I'm doing." More »
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    Heavy Grace Paid Member

    Both my parents died at the end of 1998, each of them on a Monday, a little less than three months apart. Although they had been divorced for forty years, they flared out together like two long-tailed meteors burning a nasty parallel gash in the cold dome of the winter sky. Even though I have been practicing Zen meditation for twenty-eight years and working as a front-line hospice volunteer for ten, nothing helps. Nothing. The back of my head has been ripped off and I’m immune to that unctuous snake oil salve of “no coming, no going; no birth, no death” that well-intentioned Zen friends dab on my raw scalp. Give me good old Rujing from twelfth-century China any day, who, when setting fire to Elder Yi’s funeral bier, cried out, “Ah, the swift flames in the wind flare up—all atoms in all worlds do not interchange.” More »