Excellent New Forum

A forum for discussing aspects of dying and death. Please be mindful when posting in this section.
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Simon E.
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Excellent New Forum

Post by Simon E. » Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:16 am

It’s clear from the volume and speed of the responses that this new sub forum meets a real need. Well done to the mods and admin for setting it up.
I would hope that over time it might evolve from a forum which mainly serves as a resource to recommend reading material towards being pragmatic and experiential. But that is pretty much my attitude to DW as a whole anyway..

It’s a real taboo subject for some, but one that is highly beneficial to contemplate.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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justsit
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by justsit » Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:42 pm

The response to the new forum is very encouraging!

Addressing my reply not just to Simon:

Regarding the physical process of dying (as opposed to the spiritual process) - there are many good resources available online; the best one I've seen is by Barbara Karnes, RN. She is a hospice nurse who developed a small guide book called "Gone From My Sight" that details the physical changes seen in the normal dying process. Many families find it very helpful, as dying has been co-opted by the medical sphere; most people no longer die at home like they did in the past, so many of us are uncomfortable with the subject and unaware of what the normal process of decline looks like.

Here's the link to her website https://bkbooks.com/. Be sure to click on the short video "New Rules for End of Life Care" for an intro to her approach. There's also a link to purchase copies of the guide book; it's very concise and written in everyday language. As a former hospice nurse myself, I highly recommend the book to everyone, not just those with a dying loved one, as this is something we will all face at some point.

If anyone has questions about the dying process, I am happy to try to answer.

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Queequeg
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by Queequeg » Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:12 pm

I'm surprised at the interest. But maybe I shouldn't be. My impression is that this has been the most active sub since it opened.

I hope that this becomes a great resource for the community and look forward to how it, and we, evolve with it.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

Simon E.
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by Simon E. » Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:44 pm

Aye.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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DNS
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by DNS » Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:59 pm

I moved the euthanasia thread to this sub-forum.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Nov 22, 2019 7:08 pm

Half the Dharma talks I've been to in my life are on death and dying lol. That is one of the upsides to the fact that the most American Tibetan Buddhist centers are very greying.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:18 pm

I asked that this sub-forum be created because earlier this year I was medically diagnosed with a terminal medical condition. When you find out you have only a few good years left, it changes your perspective and priorities. Even the fact of impermanence acquires a different reality. It's no longer merely a hypothetical, intellectual understanding.

As a buddhist, I try to look at this as an opportunity for practice, not only in terms of letting go of fixations on a "self" or focusing awareness of subtle mind and energies, but literally, actually being able to do quiet sitting meditation for hours on end. What I have is a gradually worsening lung condition (IPF). One of the greatest complaints people with my disease have is not being able to move around much, and "just having to sit there". Most people are used to always trying to be busy, right? That's our human realm. Restless, never satisfied, "always in motion" as Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche says.
My first thought was, "Really? I can do that, sit there for six hours at a time, and people will be okay with that?"

The other aspect to this is comforting those near to me, who seem much more upset emotionally than I am.
Of course, there are real burdens involved as well. I don't want to be totally selfish about it.
Who will look after the responsibilities I have now? That sort of thing.
There are samsaric problems that a change of attitude won't fix right away.
This is another area where really focusing on the needs of others becomes the main practice.

The one thing that keeps coming up in my thoughts is from a movie about the 16TH Gyalwa Karmapa, The Lion's Roar,
in which one of the medical staff mentions that when the Karmapa was in the hospital,
he never appeared to be in pain, but always asked the staff how they were doing,
and I have found this practice to be really beneficial.

Even though where I live is in a rural area with hundreds of turkey buzzards,
somehow I don't think I'll be able to talk the local authorities into a traditional Tibetan "sky burial" !!! :rolling:
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:26 pm

Wow, thank you for sharing this with us Padma.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

Simon E.
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by Simon E. » Sat Nov 23, 2019 12:46 am

I would like to add my thanks and respect. :namaste:
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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Matt J
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by Matt J » Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:23 pm

I'm sorry to hear about your condition.

Have you found bardo or death preparatory teachings that you've found helpful? Most of them seem so abstract and theoretical. I would list two exceptions: primarily oral teachings from Mingyur Rinpoche and Andrew Holocek.
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:18 pm
I asked that this sub-forum be created because earlier this year I was medically diagnosed with a terminal medical condition. When you find out you have only a few good years left, it changes your perspective and priorities. Even the fact of impermanence acquires a different reality. It's no longer merely a hypothetical, intellectual understanding.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Punya
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by Punya » Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:54 pm

Thank you PVS for sharing your reason for asking that the new forum be created. Very sorry to hear your news.

Yes, the example of HH the 16TH Gyalwa Karmapa, is very inspiring. Your recent active participation in DW, founded on the teachings of your precious teachers and your personal experience, is also very beneficial to us and, I hope, to you.

There also seems to be a place within this new forum for the sharing of personal experiences of the loss of loved ones and even how we faced our own mortality in the time of a health crisis. Contributions from professionals, who work/have worked in the field of death and dying, would also be valuable.
We abide nowhere. We possess nothing.
~Chatral Rinpoche

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by Fortyeightvows » Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:11 am

Dear PadmaVonSamba,

Your picture is so funny. I really wish you the best.

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Mon Nov 25, 2019 3:59 pm

Matt J wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:23 pm
I'm sorry to hear about your condition.
Have you found bardo or death preparatory teachings that you've found helpful?
What I find to be most intersting (and I'm going to assume at some point that will mean helpful) are the teachings on the dissolution of the elements, and our not seeing the elements as the five buddha familes.
There is an introduction to this in a talk by the previous Kalu Rinpoche (about half way into it):



As I understand it, the thing to keep in mind about the Bardo teachings ("Tibetan Book Of The Dead") is that after you die,
you aren't necessarily heading into an exhibition of Tibetan art. This is a misunderstanding that some western students have,
because the thangkas that are used to illustrate concepts, (or perhaps, the "beyond-concepts") are
Indo/Tibetan imagery. This also includes what I like to call the Wheel of life dartboard,
that big circular comic strip of the six realms that Yama is holding up.

The lights and colors described in the bardo teachings are experienced purely by the subtle mind.
While your concept of red and white is valid, the concept isn't what is experienced. The conceptual level is gone at that point.
Even calling them "colors" and "lights" is somewhat misleading, because those are conceptuals.
That's how I understand it.

I think, when we study and practice Dharma, we are of course, aware of what we are doing on the superficial, "outside" level.
We count beads, we chant stuff, our knees and butt hurts from sitting, we conceptualize visualizations or Buddhas or whatever.
That's all "outer", and I think, that's like the top of a flower that you see blooming, that has a fragrance and a color.
Of course, the real life of a flower is happening in the dark soil where the roots are. That's like the subtle mind.
That's where the transformations take place. It's not on the conceptual level at all.
So, I think, maybe you develop subtle mind there, and when the elements dissolve, when you die,
all that's left is that subtle mind at whatever stage you've managed to bring it to through "accumulation of merit" in this lifetime.
It's like being a hen sitting on an egg. You can't see inside the egg. You just know you have to keep sitting, so it will hatch.
It definitely motivates one to practice!
.
.
.
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Queequeg
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by Queequeg » Mon Nov 25, 2019 5:27 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 3:59 pm
I think, when we study and practice Dharma, we are of course, aware of what we are doing on the superficial, "outside" level.
We count beads, we chant stuff, our knees and butt hurts from sitting, we conceptualize visualizations or Buddhas or whatever.
That's all "outer", and I think, that's like the top of a flower that you see blooming, that has a fragrance and a color.
Of course, the real life of a flower is happening in the dark soil where the roots are. That's like the subtle mind.
That's where the transformations take place. It's not on the conceptual level at all.
So, I think, maybe you develop subtle mind there, and when the elements dissolve, when you die,
all that's left is that subtle mind at whatever stage you've managed to bring it to through "accumulation of merit" in this lifetime.
It's like being a hen sitting on an egg. You can't see inside the egg. You just know you have to keep sitting, so it will hatch.
It definitely motivates one to practice!
I've been thinking about changing karma lately. Well, not just lately; its an enduring preoccupation. Lately its been on what I think you are touching on here. To ground it, this is how it comes up with me.

I have a short temper. It also dissipates quickly. Having young children, my temper is often tested. I've done all kinds of things to ameliorate my temper at the behavioral level - that's the "outside" level. But I can sense there is some deeper level where the temper originates, and I'm sure that without changing that, all I can do is, to take the plant metaphor, is prune and train the temper. Maybe I can make it into a nice espalier of anger.

My practice goes in cycles. When I get into a deeper groove, I notice that my temper does not flare as much. I think my entire demeanor changes and my children actually respond to me differently, probably because I'm carrying myself differently. All the little causes and reactions in the relationship feedback loops are "vibrating" at a different frequency, so to speak. I can't put my finger on it but I presume something is changed at a deep level - I could speculate that its at the alaya level. Perhaps different seeds are prompted to arise.

Last year, my father was going in for triple bypass. What I wondered was, if something happened and the surgery went wrong, had he over the course of decades, adequately perfumed his seeds to be drawn to another circumstance where he could encounter the Dharma again. At that point, as you point out, all of our outer levels of mind which really are located in the physical body, are left behind, and all we are is that subtle level of mind stripped of concepts (so I am told, and so I am currently convinced).
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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LastLegend
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Re: Excellent New Forum

Post by LastLegend » Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:25 pm

Qq:
At that point, as you point out, all of our outer levels of mind which really are located in the physical body, are left behind, and all we are is that subtle level of mind stripped of concepts (so I am told, and so I am currently convinced).
Mind if I provide my opinion? Off topic.

From experience, subtle it might be and though we might think it’s anything, it isn’t yet we fully know what’s going on. That’s key.

Delusional thoughts happen because we are not aware. Even when we are aware and remedying one thought with another thought, that’s still grasping. That’s because of habit we have for a very long time. With practice over time, delusional thoughts and grasping will decrease. It takes time. Also, grasping manifests at all levels in our life; when we grasp there isn’t one thing that we don’t grasp. With strong grasping will be harder for us to let go quickly. Practice over time will help loosen the grip or through increased wisdom we will see how we construct and grasp and build samadhic strength (stability). It’s like the sun will shine brighter over time when there are less clouds.

Everyone is different. I can only speak from my struggle.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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