As Buddhists, how do we work with illness and what do we learn from it?
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    How to Transcend Dental Medication Paid Member

    A member of our monastery has very bad teeth. He has needed to have many teeth pulled out, but he'd rather not have the anesthetic. Eventually he found a dental surgeon in Perth who was willing to extract his teeth without anesthetic. He has been there several times. He finds it no problem. Allowing a tooth to be extracted by a dentist without anesthetic might seem impressive enough, but this character went one better. He pulled out his own tooth without anesthetic. We saw him, outside the monastery workshop, holding a freshly pulled tooth smeared with his blood, in the claws of an ordinary pair of pliers. It was no problem: he cleaned the pliers of blood before he returned them to the workshop. More »
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    Working with Pain Paid Member

    Pain is an intrinsic part of being born in a physical body, as the Buddha has taught. In reality, aging and sickness begin the moment we enter the world. Yet we are conditioned to ward off all pain. We are unwilling to allow the pain simply to happen. There are some important and challenging questions relating to physical pain and our bodies:  More »
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    Good Death Paid Member

    "Your mind state at the time you draw your last breath is crucial, for upon this hinges the subsequent direction and embodiment of the life force. Only with a disciplined and spiritually prepared mind can you hope to resist the pull of old patterns of craving and clinging as your final energies are slipping away. The impulses of thought, feeling, and perception all gather together in this last breath with great potency ... " —Philip Kapleau Roshi So exactly which last breath is the roshi talking about here? The last breath taken before lapsing into coma or vegetative state? The last breath taken before being placed on a respirator? Or the last breath taken when a court orders the respirator removed, one year later? More »
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    Awake and Demented Paid Member

    DEMENTIA. “What's that word?” my mother asked my sister the other day, when the nurse accidentally left her chart in plain sight. “Oh, that's the name of the doctor,” my sister said. “Doctor Dementia.”' Whew, another quick save—maybe. My mother never did like the hard facts straight up, and ever since we received her diagnosis three years ago, we've had to practice the spur-of-the moment dodge, the ingenious distraction, the white lie.... More »
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    The Lucky Dark Paid Member

    I GREW UP in the South, and one of the people I was closest to as a girl was my grandmother Bessie. I loved spending summers with her in Savannah, where she worked as a sculptor and artist, carving tombstones for local people. Bessie was a remarkable village woman; she often served her community as someone comfortable around illness and death, someone who would sit with dying friends. More »
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    Lotus in the Fire Paid Member

    Tricycle: How do you understand karma in terms of your sickness? Harrison: If I seek an answer as to why I am HIV-positive and why somebody else isn’t, I’m going to drive myself crazy because I’m never going to get an answer to that.Tricycle: I didn’t mean it in quite that way. Rather, that AIDS has pushed you deeper into practice than you may have gone without it, and you often refer to your life now as a blessing. Harrison: I would never call the virus a blessing, but I have no doubt that if I had lived to ninety years without this sickness, I probably would never know the depth of peace and contentment that I’m experiencing in my life now. I truly am happier than I’ve ever been.Tricycle: Does practice make it easier to die? More »