Death & Dying

Powerful end-of-life practices and compassionate care
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    Lex Hixon Paid Member

    At the age of 22, Lex Hixon wrote a poem that includes the following lines: all I wantinscribed on the dancing flames of my pyre:the enigmatic phrase,all is light More »
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    The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying Paid Member

    The Tibetan Book of Living and DyingSogyal Rinpoche Edited by Patrick Gaffney and Andrew Harvey Harper San Francisco: San Francisco, 1992.356 pp. $22.00 (hardcover). More »
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    Seventeen Syllable Medicine Paid Member

    Waking up in the long indigo shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, my heart is granite. A beloved dharma sister and deep writing friend of 30 years has been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and has just entered an intensive treatment program at the Christus St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center of Northern New Mexico. I have come to keep her company for a week. Outside her home, the first honey blonde columbine of summer push into bloom, a glory I am too numb to celebrate. More »
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    Truth or Consequences Paid Member

    IF THE ANCIENT CHINESE proverb has much relevance today, I would say that I am cursed by living in interesting times. Beginning zazen while wearing the uniform of a U.S. Marine thirty years ago, I began to question "authority"—not only the authority of the Marine Corps and ultimately of the U.S. government, but the authority of Zen teachers, and even my own authority, my own sponsorship of and participation in the growing war in Vietnam. A stateside friend sent me an essay by Albert Camus, "Neither Victims nor Executioners," from which I copied most of one paragraph in my notebook: More »
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    Coming, Going Paid Member

    Empty-handed I entered the worldBarefoot I leave it.My coming, my going—Two simple happeningsThat got entangled. From Japanese Death Poems, compiled by Yoel Hoffman. © 1998 Tuttle Publishing. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. Read more death poems here. Illustration by Roberto La Forgia More »
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    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 »