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Buddhadharma : Winter 2005
winter 2005| 22 |buddhadharma Of course, if someone is able to man- age pain without the use of drugs, this is preferable. Some degree of pain can be manageable. As Buddhists, we understand that to be born as a human is to experi- ence pain, and pain is not just a situation to be avoided. we build our strength and focus through meditation, and this can help to manage the pain in the process of dying. So often the issue is more about our relationship to the pain than the pain itself. If you are in a vegetative state and are kept alive only through the intervention of technology, requesting not to have life sup- port, even if that leads to your death, is not going against any Buddhist principles. It is not killing yourself to request no life sup- port. However, if you have a terminal dis- ease, you don’t have to hasten your death. That sounds as if you are driven by fear and nonacceptance. If you have a terminal disease and are going to die anyway, what is the rush? If you can manage the pain as much as possible through practice and also with medication, the time approach- ing death can be valuable. In the process of dying, even the last moments can be used well and are very important for your spiritual development. If you are dying, facing death is no lon- ger an idea. It is the time for deeply let- ting go, and a powerful time to face your fears. Most of the time we do not have the opportunity to do this because we don’t feel our fears that strongly. even by think- ing of ways to hasten death in the event of a terminal illness, you can be saying, “I don’t want to deal with my awareness. I just want to go fast and go blank.” Traditionally, guidance in the prepara- tion for death is to reflect more deeply on impermanence. Know that death comes to everybody – enlightened beings, yogis, yoginis, great people, famous people, ordinary people. everything that is con- structed goes – all cities that now exist will at some point no longer exist. That is the nature of phenomena. Sometimes we fear death as some kind of personal pun- ishment. That is not the case. everybody dies. The deep, direct knowledge and acceptance of impermanence is a spiri- tual freedom, a freedom from the fear of death. Buddhism calls birth, aging, sickness, and death the four sufferings. These four sufferings encourage us in our practice. To avoid or deny them is against Buddhism. DZOGCHEN CENTER BUDDHISM FOR THE WEST dzogchen the natural great perfection DZOGCHEN RETREATS WITH LAMA SURYA DAS Dzogchen is the consummate practice of Tibetan Buddhism. Considered by many to be "the teaching of our time," Dzogchen is direct, immediate, essentialized, adaptable, and profound: a pure awareness practice applicable to any circumstance and readily integrated into modern life. Dzogchen, often translated as the Natural Great Perfection, directly introduces us to our inner Buddha, the inherent freedom, purity and perfection of being that is our true nature. Dzogchen Center Meditation Retreats are held across the country, throughout the year as shown below: DZOGCHEN MEDITATION RETREATS Garrison, NY Winter December 30, 2005 – January 8, 2006 Joshua Tr ee,CA Spring March 25– April 2, 2006 Garrison, NY Summer July 15– 30, 2006 MULTIPLE TEACHINGS DAILY • NOBLE SILENCE • BEAUTIFUL SURROUNDINGS VEGETARIAN MEALS • PRIVATE, SEMI-PRIVAT E, AND DORM ROOMS AVAILABLE For complete information and secure on-line registration for all of these scheduled events, go to www.dzogchen.org/retreats, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 617-628 -1702. LAMA SURYA DAS is the author of the recently released Natural Radiance: Awakening to Your Great Perfection (Sounds True) and Letting Go of the Person Yo u Used to Be (Broadway Books). He is also the noted author of the Awakening Trilogy: Awakening the Buddha Within, Awakening to the Sacred, and Awakening the Buddhist Heart. Lama Surya Das is a Lineage Holder of the Dzogchen Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the Rimé (non-sectarian) tradition. For over thirty years, including more than eight years in secluded retreat, he has studied with the great masters of Tibetan Buddhism. With his open and lively style, he is particularly effective in the transmission of Buddhism by presenting Buddhist ethics and insight, as well as methods of practice, in a manner accessible to all.