As Buddhists, how do we work with illness and what do we learn from it?
  • When Science Met Buddhism Paid Member

    Being Human in a Buddhist World By Janet Gyatso Columbia University Press, 2015 544 pp., 51 illustrations; $45.00 (Cloth) More »
  • 12 Things You Should Never Say to the Sick Paid Member

    Even the most well-intentioned people often don’t know how to talk to the chronically ill. This is because we live in a culture that treats illness as unnatural. As a result, people have been conditioned to turn away in aversion from those who aren’t healthy, even though it’s a fate that will befall everyone at some point in his or her life.  The consequences of taking this unrealistic view of the realities of the human condition is that many people feel uneasy and even fearful when they encounter people who are struggling with their health. I admit that this was true of me before I became chronically ill. Now I find it as natural to talk to people who are chronically ill as I do to people who are the pinnacle of health.  More »
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    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 »
  • The Slow Burn Paid Member

    Bernie Flynn, a longtime student of Chögyam Trungpa, recently told me about the time he and the Rinpoche tried to quit smoking cigarettes. A few days in, he was driving the Rinpoche to a meeting. Antsy and in withdrawal, Bernie couldn’t help but notice his teacher sitting calmly in the passenger seat. Finally, his nerves on edge, Bernie turned to Trungpa and asked how the whole quitting thing was going. “It’s easy,” said Trungpa. “Either you smoke, or you don’t smoke.” Ah, so simple. Later that evening, Bernie entered a room to find the Rinpoche gleefully chain smoking. Oh, not so simple. More »
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    Among the Children of Wat Opot Paid Member

    The car brought her and the car left without her. Two older sisters were in the car. Srey Mom’s parents had both died of AIDS, and her sisters were supposed to take care of her. But they were pretty and young, and anxious to marry. In Cambodia the quality of a woman’s life is still largely determined by the man she marries, and it was not long before these young women realized that a promising young man, a good prospect, would have no interest in marrying a woman with a sickly young sister infected with the AIDS virus. So they brought Srey Mom to Wat Opot, a Cambodian community for children with AIDS. More »