In Eight Steps to Happiness Geshe-la says "'Self' and 'other' are relative terms, rather like 'this mountain' and 'that mountain ... 'This' and 'that' therefore depend upon our point of reference. This is also true of self and other. By climbing down the mountain of self, it is possible to ascend the mountain of other, and thereby cherish others as much as we presently cherish ourself."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Drafting My Obituary

We know we're going to die but believe it will be in the distant future. In truth, it may happen much sooner. It may seem harsh to bring up that reality - I'm not trying to ruin your day - but it's one of the main way Buddhists make their lives meaningful right now, and overcome our procrastination, waiting for retirement to do the things that are important to us. In meditation, after repeatedly considering "I may die today," we focus on the feeling that arises. As with all our Lamrim (Stages of the Path to Enlightenment) meditations, we carry our sitting meditation into our daily life.

Some of you have heard me suggest one meditation-break activity for this meditation is to write a will and an advance directive. It's a kindness for those you leave behind, whether you have a lot of resources or not. You can spell out all your wishes about what kind of medical care you want or don't want when you're "actively dying," as well as what you want done with your body after you're done with it. More importantly, that activity shows you have more than an intellectual understanding that something could kill you today, even if you're young and healthy. Think of a car accident or a natural disaster, for example.

I wasn't going to have an obituary, but now I'm thinking that composing one would be another meditation-break practice, whether it's published or not. I often read the obituaries in our local paper, particularly for younger people, as another way of remembering death. Writing my own forces me to think about what I've done with my life.

I don't want the usual format. You know the one I mean. For fun, I made it into a kind of MadLibs (MadObits?):

_________ [full name of person] who was born in _____ [4-digit number] was _________ [3 superlative adjectives]. She attended _________ [President's name, of any country] High School, then _________ [name of state, in any country] University. _________ [first name of person from line 1] went on to become a _________ [adverb] _________ [job] and raised _________ [number] of kids, some of whom were named _________ [noun] and _________ [noun]. She was _________ [past-tense verb] by all who crossed her path, unless she was in a _________ [adjective] mood.
In lieu of flowers, buy yourself something _________ [adjective].

I do want people to hear how much Kadampa Buddhist teachings and meditations helped me in my adventures with cancer. I'd like to add the URL for our local Temple.

R and I recently saw a exhibit called "Terminal" where some of the photos of dying or deceased people were washed out or blurry. I wasn't planning to have a photo with my obit, but I would consider having one like that, or a blurry  black and white drawing of me.
I'm also tempted to say I'm "survived by friends and family ... and you."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Cancerversay

Today I'm celebrating living 6 years with advanced cancer, and even a brain metastasis. I like to think of it as an adventure.
As this blog documents, practicing Kadampa Buddhism has made an enormous difference. (I was supposed to be gone a while ago.)
I deeply appreciate your prayers for me. You can see that they work. Makes it so easy to have faith.

You may recall that I was on the targeted drug, a non-chemo delivered like chemo, called "Avastin," for about 9 months. Since it stopped working this Feb, I've been on a gem of a chemo called "Gemzar." (It is actually pronounced like the word "gem.") It's working: My tumor marker has plummeted!
Its main side effect has been fatigue that often causes me to sleep 12 hours a night and to lie on the couch for my waking hours. My "commute" these days is mostly from the bed to the couch. The fatigue is mental as well as physical, so even talking takes a lot of my energy. It's like having just a few drops of gas in the car: Most days I have to be very careful how I spend my limited energy.

A huge Thank You also to Richard, who does all kinds of things to make my life easier - too many to list here. He has great patience for me when my brain damage manifests as stupid thinking or memory lapses.

I have plans to be at US Festival later this month and hope to see you there.