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On Death and Dying
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An Email from Loring Palmer in Response to

a Dchad Misc On the deaths of two who were close to Clay and on what to do before the funeral

Dchad's Response

dear david,

thank you for bringing up the question of death and dying: how to deal with the "great matter" with wisdom and compassion.  it's been on my mind as i'm entering the realm of the geezer.

"into great silence" documentary has very few words in it.  at the end of the film several monks speak on death and dying.   they implied that it was just another door to go through in the monastic order, or the "right view" for any human to achieve.  as an integral community, the monks take care of each other.

"i'm not afraid of death.  i just don't want to be there when it happens." 

---woody allen.

sad to say that most of us in this materialistic, flatland society see old age and death as the ultimate failure, the end of fun and productivity, time for the warehouse or dumpster.  a few will flee to a geezer community in florida for a life of walks-with-a-walker and an attendant to help with your attends.  the mirage of well-being will be ongoing.  the hearse does the pick-ups in the dark of night. [these are my words --an interpolation of the roshi's power-point presentation.]

this is the brutal side of the coin that i heard from joan halifax roshi on her recent presentation here at MIT and harvard.  her approach is to revolutionize the treatment and understanding of how we deal with death and dying in our culture.  she is devoted to this. and her upaya zen center/retreat center in taos, is involved with training and information in dealing with this "great matter." she offers the good news of a sane approach, the "grandmother wisdom" that needs to be recovered.  she's going around the country talking to health-care workers, doctors, and the rest of us.  she also travels the world bringing health care to the impoverished. 

she supports a clinic in kham, tibet. you asked for resources in your article and joan roshi is invaluable.

perhaps you're sounding the drum as a reminder to all of us that "life and death are the great matter."  you inspired me to get with google to see what's out there.  the buddhists appear to be leading the parade in the area of death and dying:  joan roshi says that when you're talking hospice you're talking buddhism.

david, i'm sure that you know joan, yes ?  i'd never met her before, even though we came out of the same 60's soup.  she was married to stan grof, acid pioneer, that i'd met at john and cindy's pad on turk street.

her presentation was magnetizing and i was heart-struck by her integrity, sincerity, and commitment.  she's a sweetheart besides being an outstanding teacher, the embodiment of kwan yin.

as we get into the final phase, i'm sure that we'll be more focused on the area of death and dying.  and also the step before this:  where can we find acceptable old folks homes for old buddhists, or the spiritually concerned, who are not quiet ready for the hospice ?

thanks for your attention to this great matter.


in dharma,


joan halifax roshi:

new book: being with dying:  contemplative practices and teachings.


upaya zc:   [roshi's page]


Dchad's Response

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