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Buddhadharma : Spri 2013
72 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 1 3 our capacity to embrace another’s suf- fering as our own, and their words and work will inspire anyone seeking to express dharma practice in the direct service of others. Both books make substantial con- tributions to the wide field of contem- plative care, defined in The Arts of Contemplative Care as care “informed by...consistent contemplative or medita- tion practice.” They help us appreciate service as a spiritual practice integral to Buddhist wisdom teachings. Through their stories, we can see how modern- day practitioners are expressing that ancient wisdom by reclaiming the voca- tion of embodied social action. Buddhist Care for the Dying and Bereaved offers the history, methodol- ogy, and implications of Buddhist ini- tiatives specific to end-of-life care. This collection emerged from a project by the Jodo Shu Research Institute (JSRI) to explore what it perceives as press- ing social issues in Japan, among them “the Japanese medical establishment’s outdated approach to patient care” and “the growing irrelevancy of Buddhist priests and temples in the lives of their lay followers.” That exploration led to international round tables and sympo- sia, and ultimately to these writings, culled from work with the dying and grieving in a variety countries, including Germany, the United States, and Thai- land, and drawing on a wide spectrum of Buddhist traditions. Buddhist scriptures across tradi- tions detail practices surrounding both the moment of death and support for the dying. Jonathan S. Watts, in his introduction to Buddhist Care for the Dying and Bereaved, points out that our understanding of the Buddha has always included his roles as caregiver and coun- selor; he recalls stories of the Buddha washing the infected wounds of a fellow monk and guiding the grieving mother in the famous story of the mustard seed, helping her transform her sorrow and suffering into wisdom and compassion. Watts also reminds us that the Buddha was known as the “Great Physician” whose four noble truths examined “the nature of suffering as dis-ease, as well as its causes, its cure, and the course of cure.” In these pages, we learn how con- temporary Buddhist practitioners and organizations inspired by the teachings of that Great Physician have dedicated themselves to serving the dying. From Japan, Yozo Taniyama explores how the Vihara terminal care movement is expanding the role of priests and offer- ing an alternative to “funeral Bud- dhism”; Beth Kanji Goldring details the evolution of AIDS care in Cambo- dia; and Joan Jiko Halifax outlines the intense and transformative effects of ter- minal care, both for the caregiver and the patient, and introduces the Upaya Institute’s Being With Dying professional training program as one model of how we might prepare people for that work. Other chapters range in scope from Bud- dhist chaplaincy training in the U.S. to a Theravadan explanation of “the seven factors of a peaceful death.” Practical in its recommendations and compassion- ate in its voice, Buddhist Care for the Dying and Bereaved stands both as an REVIEWS essential textbook on Buddhist hospice work and as an important reminder of Buddhism’s long history of providing social and medical care for the poor. Taking a more local and systematic approach is The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work, which brings together voices on six facets of contemplative care: foundations and training; hospital chaplaincy; prison ministry; college and military chap- laincy; end-of-life care; and pastoral work. The contributors’ first-person stories illustrate with raw honesty their efforts to meet and alleviate multiple forms of suffering in sometimes unex- pected environments. This wide-ranging collection effec- tively announces a growing movement of “vocational Buddhists” who are mak- ing inroads into secular organizations or organizations traditionally served by Judeo-Christian ministries. Through Buddhist meditation and ethical prac- tices, these chaplains and ministers cultivate compassionate presence—the “chaplain’s art”—developing the calm- ness, nonjudgmental attention, clarity, altruism, empathy, and equanimity nec- essary to be skillful. The contributors in this volume work primarily as “interfaith chaplains,” meaning that they are called upon to serve anyone in a particular environ- ment, regardless of religious affiliation (or lack thereof). Mark Power, a student of the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism and a board-certified chaplain, recalls that when he trained at a Catholic hospital, it was easier to let others assume he was a Protestant min- ister than to try to explain his Buddhist faith. Judith Simmer-Brown explains in her foreword that in fact most who do this work do not find it useful to label themselves as Buddhists. So it is not surprising that The Arts of Contemplative Care stresses the benefit and necessity of additional study and related professional training beyond the