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Buddhadharma : Winter 2005
buddhadharma| 21 |winter 2005 fluids), as you have directed, you will die a natural death and your friend need not be faced with an ethical dilemma. In the case of a terminal illness, I myself realize that I don’t actually know what I will want at that time, should that be the way I am dying. If I am uncon- scious, I will not need such help. If I am conscious, I would like to make that deci- sion at the time. I would hope to be as conscious and clear as possible because I am intensely curious about death. But if I were experiencing great and intractable pain, I might not be able to sustain that intention. I am willing to wait and see. I do think that asking someone to deliberately end my life (not just to risk shortening it as a side effect of alleviat- ing pain) is, in a literal sense, breaking the precept of not killing. But the specific precepts are not rules to be followed liter- ally as much as they are cautions about areas of human activity where great suf- fering may occur. The point is to reduce suffering. The precepts are descriptions of how an awake and compassionate person lives. The first precept is to take refuge in or to be one with Buddha; that is, to be awake and compassionate. After one pre- cepts ceremony here at the San Francisco Zen Center, Suzuki Roshi said (as best I remember it), “I have given you the pre- cepts to help you live your life; but you may walk out of here and find that you have to break them all in order to do the right thing.” geshe TenZin Wangyal rinPoche: when you are supporting someone who is in the process of dying, you want to be avail- able to whatever their needs are. Your presence can be a powerful support to the person, so you should be as clear as pos- sible, not occupied with what you should and shouldn’t do, interfering with your opinions, or agitating the dying person in any way. Just being available and sup- porting the choices of the dying person is important. It appears that your intention was to ease the suffering of your mother. Given the causes and conditions – that she was, in fact, dying – administering morphine to ease her pain does not go against any Buddhist principles. To minimize suffer- ing in this way can be an act of kindness in a situation where the dying person is not able to experience pain without increasing distress or fear. KARMA TRIYANA DHARMACHAKRA Tibetan Buddhist Teaching and Meditation Center I Sampling of teachings 2005 For more teachings and events go to www.kagyu.org 335 Meads Mt. Rd., Woodstock, NY 12498 845.679.5906 x 10 of firstname.lastname@example.org I BARDOR TULKU RINPOCHE DEC 2-4 JAN 6-8 BODHICHARYAVATARA KHENPO KARTHAR RINPOCHE DEC 9-1 ASPIRATION PRAYER FOR REBIRTH IN DEWACHEN DEC. 27 - JAN.1 Amitabha Retreat JAN.1 First Light 2005 Lamp Offering Prayers for Wo rld Peace FEB 4-9 Losa r Celebrations