Taking & Sending Meditation
This mediation can be done for yourself, for your loved one, or for groups of people (the world, your family, your co-workers etc.). The person or people you are doing it for do not need to be present for the meditation. This is a good exercise for a caregiver to do for themselves. If you are feeling anxious about your loved one's death, for example, you can visualize the "anxious caregiver". Any part of you or someone else that needs compassion can be addressed with this mediation. The Meditation: Taking with Compassion & Sending with Love * We will illustrate the meditation in terms of the caregiver doing the mediation for the person who is ill, but it can be applied to any circumstance. Caregiver: Bring the mind home. Rest in the nature of compassion. If you choose, invoke a deity who represents compassion to you. Become aware of your loved one's suffering. Begin to generate compassion for her. Begin to feel a wish that she be free of suffering. You feel the wish so deeply that you become willing to take the suffering from her. As you breathe in you visualize your loved one's suffering congealing into dark smoke and coming out of her body and coming into every pore of your body and into the center of your heart. As you breathe out you visualize that you're sending your loving kindness and healing as white moonlight.
The dark smoke and white moonlight are visualizations to keep your mind focused. If they seem cumbersome you can let go of them. The main practice is the feelings of love and compassion. You are not taking the pain or disease, but taking the suffering with compassion.
© living/dying project 2002
The AH Breath Relaxation Exercise
This is a deep relaxation technique that one person does for another person (i.e. the caregiver for the patient). If the patient has a cardiac or other condition that could possibly make sudden relaxation dangerous, don't do this exercise. The Exercise: *The person being relaxed is called the receiver and the person doing the exercise is called the giver. The receiver is arranged so that his or her breathing is visible (chest/ abdomen) to the giver. The giver describes to the receiver what they are going to do - "this is a relaxation exercise your only job is to shut your eyes and listen to the AH sounds I'm going to make." Giver: quiet your own mind. Tell the receiver to relax their body (with a soft voice mention each body part that the receiver should relax). When you are ready, watch the breathing of the receiver. Begin to softly say AH with each out breath of the receiver. The exercise is this simple. The giver should continue the exercise for at least
20 minutes and up to an hour. The giver does not touch the receiver during the exercise. The AH is the sound of the open heart and of letting go. Don't be concerned if the receiver has an emotional release. More likely than often the receiver will go into a deep relaxation (their breathing may slow down dramatically). If the breathing slows the AH doesn't have to last as long as the out breath. Once you do this exercise for the full 20-60 minutes than you can use it for shorter periods if the person is getting anxious. Do a few AH breaths for short periods to ease temporary anxiety. The deeper purpose of this is that the AH breath exercise is training for the deeper letting go into death itself. As death is approaching it can be done to ease the transition out of the body.
© living/dying project 2002
Interview on Caregiving
1. What does it mean to heal? Healing is the movement into the experience of wholeness, the wholeness of living fully without resistance to the human world of opposites"wellness/ illness, life/death, happiness/sadness, beyond the compulsion to fix, while at the same time resting in the timeless Presence that includes all opposites. Healing can apply to our entire life, to our relationship with an illness, to our relationship with another person, with this single moment.
2. How can you approach caregiving as a spiritual practice? Caregiving, particularly caregiving for the dying, will reveal where we recoil from direct contact with life. Rather than merely approaching the client as the one who needs care, we can ask "What in this situation do I recoil from? What do I judge to need fixing, to be antihealing? What here does my compassion not include? Where do I create a solid concept of who I am (helper, good person, inadequate person, spiritual person...) or who this client is (dying person, cancer patient, needy person, threatening person...)? Where do I lose contact with this other human being?" When this separation is brought clearly (and often painfully) into out awareness, we can cultivate compassion for the entire situation, for me as "caregiver" and for you as "client." Resting in the fluid, ever-changing now, we are empowered to act, beyond our usual world view that you and I are only a body and a personality that will die. 3. How does this spiritual approach to caregiving affect the person being cared for? To the extent that a caregiver is doing her own inner work, she becomes a living invitation to the client to do the same work. The client is getting the message that even this moment, no matter how painful or confusing, is workable–I can be present, with compassion, to the truth of even this, beyond the compulsive need to fix the situation in time, just this.
4. How can a person who doesn't have a strong spiritual practice open the door to healing for themselves? Without a strong "spiritual practice"(and I use this term very broadly), it becomes almost impossible not to relate to our client as "a dying person." Spiritual caregiving and true spiritual practice fundamentally demand exactly the same work: being clearly and compassionately aware of where we fixate in this world of duality so we can let go into Presence, our True Nature, which is untouched by death. Not everyone is a meditator or a contemplative. Being alone in nature, making music, worshipping the Sacred, truly being with a baby, all of these can open the door to going beyond identification with only body/mind into contact with Presence. While with my client, saying God"s name in my heart, feeling embodied in a centered and grounded way, cultivating compassion, these help me find the way back to remembrance of Presence. 5. Do you have any recommendations for what a family can do together as a part of the spiritual healing process? A family or any group of caregivers can create a group activity in which they meet in the space beyond where problems exist–group meditation, praying aloud, chanting, walking, worshipping, singing–touching together that which does not die. Then when they come back to the daily business of caregiving, they can remember where they met and not take the stresses, disagreements, disappointments, and successes of their caregiving so personally or so seriously.
6. What do you tell a caregiver to do when they are burnt out and exhausted? When caregiving the dying, quality of time spent is more important than quantity of time. If you are getting burnt out, you are no longer modeling the healing possibility of the situation for the dying client. If at all logistically possible, take enough time for yourself, time to reconnect, so that when the opportunity arises to contact the true place beyond the drama in your client, you will be there. 7. How important is it for a caregiver to have a support network? This depends on how strong our internal support network is. Can we remain clearly aware, centered and grounded, open-hearted, during the caregiving process? Do we lose touch with our-self as we try to "help?" To the extent that we keep getting caught in the role of helper, to that extent an external support network is important"friends, therapist, support group, meditation group. 8. What obstacles do caregivers come up against when trying to use caregiving as a spiritual practice? Caregiving the dying will uncover areas of the psyche where we are not free more directly than any other activity. Being intimate with death reveals our fear of death, and for each of us, our fear of death is exactly the outline of where we are lost in separateness, where we are caught in suffering. See "The Shadow of Death"
article in the Education section of our website for a more complete discussion of this issue. 9. What kinds of transformations have you seen caregivers go through? Their lives become essentialized. More and more they treat the important as important and the unimportant as unimportant. Compassion for themselves and others grows. The utter preciousness of life, of this moment, is revealed. –Dale Borglum
© living/dying project 2002
In past newsletters we have investigated the path to healing for the individual, a path that begins with a deep appreciation of the preciousness of life, the inevitability of death, and the uncertainty of the moment of death. Motivated by these truths, we are inspired to become aware of our present situation, aware of what cries out for healing, and to take refuge in the existence of the path to wholeness and in Presence. Clear awareness rather than blind reactivity creates the space for compassion to arise. The lack of self-centeredness that is born of compassion forms the ground from which arises empowerment, the power of the Sacred working through us. Finally, healing is the fruit of this compassion-based empowerment.
Healing and the path to wholeness is a collective process as well as an individual journey. In fact, healing is never accomplished alone but rather as a member of the communities, both large and small, to which we each belong. Becoming truly whole while remaining fully engaged in a dysfunctional society is a steep path . Has our response to the terrorists attacks of 9/11 been one of collective healing? I had hoped that the initial shock of the attacks would lead us in the direction of wholeness. The news of a life-threatening diagnosis from a doctor can inspire the patient to healthier, more lifeaffirming habits or can lead to reactive anger, fear, and denial of death. We need to uproot terrorism as surely as a cancer patient needs to eliminate cancer cells in her body if she hopes to heal. Our government is combating terrorism in a way that contradicts the basic principles of healing. First, awareness. We can’t begin the healing path until we clearly know what is out of balance, what is the nature of the dis-ease. We will not succeed in eliminating terrorism unless we first genuinely hear and understand what others are saying. Why are so many around the world feeling increasingly critical of America? Does the demand that all Americans believe “America is good and terrorists are evil” bring the initial clarity needed for collective healing? Action motivated by unexamined fear, anger, or denial ultimately will not lead to wholeness. Collectively, as a nation, we are caught here. Where is collective awareness blocked? Exactly where we don’t feel compassion. Clear awareness generates compassion. Whom do we label as evil? What violence
can our heart not bear to include? The Dalai Lama says that compassion is the ability to equalize and switch ourselves with the other. With whom can we not feel equal and then feel what they feel? Only after compassion arises can our actions be empowered by the Power that is beyond our own small power. Aggressive action without compassion is counterproductive. Many unconscious patterns of which we are unaware when alone are painfully revealed in the mirror of our one-to-one relationships. How we react to national and international events can also be a powerful mirror. Since these events are even farther away from whom we think we are, our ego feels justified in openly judging. Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Saddam, Sharon, Arafat, al Qaeda, radical peace activists. Can we be with all this and rest in Presence? Can the world be healed if we are not? Can we be whole if the world is not? by Dale Borglum
© living/dying project 2002
Late this past summer I went on a pilgrimage to remote Western Tibet, circumambulating Mt Kailash and the nearby Lake Manasarovar. This journey was physically challenging, especially since my hip had been replaced earlier in the year–hiking over an 18,600 foot pass, snow, hail, high winds, rain, mud, sand, sleeping on the ground, days removed from any sign of civilization. A few dozen pilgrims have died on this trek each of the past few years
due to sudden storms. Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists believe great merit is gained waking around this sacred lake and this sacred mountain. Maybe so and maybe not– what really is “merit” anyway? But something of my “old life” was left on that mountain, something that I sense is intimately intertwined with my relationship to death. According to myth, Mt Kailash is the earthly abode of Shiva, the Destroyer, the god of death. This energy palpably permeates the mountain. Yet there is also a down to earth, utilitarian explanation of the transformative power of this pilgrimage that can inform daily life here at sea level in the belly of the beast that is twenty-first century America. Whether we make the pilgrimage to the faraway sacred mountain or we are opening to the possibility of imminent death, we are entering unfamiliar territory, the unknown, that which exists at the edge where form and the formless meet. Living fully in these extreme situations demands stepping beyond old patterns, beyond hope and fear. Clinging to the known blocks the transformative power of pilgrimage and of the dying process. Life-threatening illness and remote pilgrimage sites reveal the necessity of stepping into the unknown with trust. What about familiar life at home, cooking dinner, working, relating to loved ones, to strangers? Can we bring strong motivation to be fully present and alive into daily activity? Of course the inevitability of death and the presence of the sacred are always available as inspiration to be present, but they both are “open secrets”– immediately accessible, but rarely remembered while
immersed in the familiar. One ancient Hindu scripture says that the most amazing thing in the world is that everyone in the world will die, but almost everyone acts as if they were immortal. For me the one focus strong enough to cut through the busy-ness of familiar activity when I am not directly confronted with death or with an obviously holy place or person is opening directly to the suffering around and within me. Courage is obviously needed to confront death or extreme physical hardship, but courage is also necessary to stay open to suffering. The French root word for courage means heart. Out of this courage compassion, the heart directly touching suffering, naturally arises. Staying open to familiar suffering is more difficult and requires more courage than opening to the dramatic hardships of dying and of pilgrimage. We get lost in form, the stuff of the world. Pilgrimage and being close to death have the power to push us beyond our habitual relationship with form to the recognition of our true nature, sacred presence. Then we come back to our familiar life. Can we find the courage to live what we have so truly seen? Can we embody compassion, touch the form of the Beloved, embrace reality, recognize Shiva of the faraway mountain to be right here? Compassion allows us to bear the painful truth, the sacred wounding. Compassion heals the habitual turning away from our fear. With compassion we become vulnerable, touched by life. The familiar too becomes our pilgrimage. by Dale Borglum
© living/dying project 2002
An Interview on Caregiving with Dale Borglum
What does it mean to heal? Healing is the movement into the experience of wholeness, the wholeness of living fully without resistance to the human world of opposites–wellness/ illness, life/death, happiness/sadness, beyond the compulsion to help, while at the same time resting in the timeless Presence that includes all opposites. Healing can apply to our entire life, to our relationship with an illness, to our relationship with another person, with this single moment. How can you approach caregiving as a spiritual practice? Caregiving, particularly caregiving for the dying, will insistently reveal where we recoil from direct contact with life. Rather than merely approaching the client as the one who needs care, we can ask “What here do I judge to need fixing? What does my compassion not include? Where do I create a solid concept of who I am (helper, good person, inadequate person, spiritual person. . .) or who this client is (dying person, cancer patient, needy person, threatening person. . .)? Where do I lose contact with this other human being?” When this separation is brought clearly (and often painfully) into our awareness, we can cultivate compassion for the entire situation, for me as “caregiver” and for you as “client.” We are empowered to act, humanely, yet beyond our usual world
view that you and I are only a body and a personality that will die. How does this spiritual approach to caregiving affect the person being cared for? To the extent that a caregiver is doing her own inner work, she becomes a living invitation to the client to do the same work. The client is getting the message that this moment, no matter how painful or confusing, is workable–‘I can be present, with compassion, to the truth of even this, beyond the need to fix myself.’ How can a person who doesn’t have a strong spiritual practice open the door to healing for themselves? Without a strong “spiritual practice” (and I use this term very broadly), it becomes almost impossible not to relate to our client as “a dying person.” Spiritual caregiving and true spiritual practice fundamentally demand exactly the same view: being clearly and compassionately aware of where we fixate in this world of duality so we can let go into Presence, our True Nature, which is untouched by death. Not everyone is a meditator or a contemplative. Being alone in nature, making music, worshipping the Sacred, truly being with a baby, many things can open the door to going beyond identification with only body/ mind into contact with Presence. While with my client, saying God’s name in my heart, feeling embodied in a centered and grounded way, cultivating compassion, these help me find the way back to remembrance of Presence. Do you have any recommendations for what a family can do together as a part of the spiritual
healing process? A family or any group of caregivers can create a group activity in which they meet in the space beyond where problems exist–group meditation, praying aloud, chanting, walking in nature, worshipping, singing– together touching the Sacred. Then when they come back to the daily business of caregiving, they can remember where they met and not take the stresses, disagreements, disappointments, and successes of their caregiving so personally or so seriously. What do you tell a caregiver to do when they are burnt out and exhausted? When caregiving the dying, quality of time spent is more important than quantity of time. If you are getting burnt out, you are no longer modeling the precious healing possibility of the situation for the dying client. If at all logistically possible, take enough time for yourself, time to reconnect, so that when the opportunity arises to contact the true place beyond the drama with your client, you will be available. How important is it for a caregiver to have a support network? This depends on how strong and robust our internal support network is. Can we remain clearly aware, centered and grounded, open-hearted, during the caregiving process? Do we lose touch with our-self as we try to ‘help’? To the extent that we keep getting caught in the role of helper, to that extent an external support network is important–friends, therapist, support group, meditation group. What obstacles do caregivers come up against
when trying to use caregiving as a spiritual practice? Caregiving the dying will uncover areas of the psyche where we are not free more directly than virtually any other activity. Being intimate with death reveals our fear of death, and for each of us, our fear of death is exactly the outline of where we are lost in separateness, where we are caught in suffering. All of us, even those who have no conscious fear of death, pull back at times from a full embrace of life. See “The Shadow of Death” article in the Education section of our website for a more complete discussion of this issue. What kinds of transformations have you seen caregivers go through? Their lives become essentialized–more and more they treat the important as important and the unimportant as unimportant. Compassion for themselves and others grows. The utter preciousness of life, of this moment, is revealed.
© living/dying project 2002
Sandy Scull has been volunteering with our Open Circle program for 8 years. He is a Vietnam veteran, a retired licensed psychotherapist, but still an active investor--endeavoring to become less active in order to pursue interests with more heart and soul. He has an artist/ therapist wife, a daughter who just graduated from college who teaches in Oakland, a 12 year-old son, and two golden retrievers. The male, Mouballa, retrieves balls
and his sister, Mousocka, socks. He enjoys sailing, poetry, carpentry projects, and surfing (now limited mostly to Hawaii). "I subscribe to Zorba the Greek's "full catastrophe" living and I can't separate that from spiritual practice. It's an everyday opportunity to love and is the real practice.” How long have you been a therapist? I am not currently a therapist. My psychological background was in transpersonal psychology. I focused in the trauma area, primarily with Vietnam veterans and men with AIDS. Curiously, the issues of these two populations overlapped around the themes of meaning, guilt, separation, abandonment, death anxiety and loss. When I began volunteering with the life-threatened with the Living Dying Project, I noticed these universal themes were still quite relevant. The transition from the therapeutic orientation I had been holding to working with the dying was relatively easy. And now I don't have to look at my watch, ask for the check, or fix anything. I show up with my beingness. Self-improvement and egoic concerns pale in the face of death. The potential for radical openness awaits. I'll meet in that field anytime. What is your spiritual practice? My spiritual practice is about paying attention. Working with the dying helps me do that. Getting my priorities straight as I sometimes get distracted with peripheral concerns. Keeping life's big questions in the foreground also helps to break down the tendency for habit to take over. I explore spontaneity and expression through
dance. I write poetry to free the numbness around imagination and to allow an unfolding of integrity. In my morning hot tub I have been doing an esoteric Sufi practice for ten years called the Wheel of Solomon. Recently I included the Afghan people in the various stages of attunement, which has mitigated some despair and helps me feel more connected. What interested you about working with dying people? I have always liked the poignant energy of beginnings and endings. It's such a privilege to be able to really focus on holding space for someone letting go of this world, as they have known it through the body. How have your views of death changed since working with the terminally ill? My early view of death was formed in the Vietnam War. Tragic, unnecessary, and bordering on the obscene. In contrast, I could characterize the passing of a few clients as numinous. Opening to the mystery can be as exhilarating as it can be humbling. Dying is paradoxically so alive and potentially as human as it gets. What is one of the most important lessons you have learned from this work? To savor the present moment. Not to hold back, but at the same time, honor the fullness of silence. What do you like about the work? What I just mentioned. Also for the work increasing my
threshold for paradox and ambiguity. What don't you like? Long-term clients who whine and are not life-threatened. Sounds like me! How would you describe healing? Such a big topic for small space. For me it was about showing up in certain circles that I trusted and was inspired by. Finding the discrimination and courage to compost my stuff, then the will not to pick it up again. Initiatory ritual in the Native American tradition played a big part. And right action in the presence of one's calling. Why do you think people are more open to healing when they know they are dying than when they think they are healthy? Most people love the preciousness and intensity of being engaged by the mystery. It's easier to remember oneself when an X-ray sits in front of your nose than as something indistinct over your shoulder. Denial gets busted when death has your name. The ultimate wake-up call. I'm all for preventive medicine in each moment, not just to stave off the inevitable, but to engage in a more life-affirming manner. Say no to me and I'll look for the yes within myself.
© living/dying project 2002
Should we really get back to normal, the norm before 9/11? Are shopping and investing enough? I hope not. Something has noticeably shifted for many Americans and we have an opportunity that goes far beyond the old norm. Even though many more children starve to death every day than died in the 9/11 plane highjackings and the subsequent anthrax attacks, our collective relationship with death has become much more real and immediate. Sudden, unexpected, unpreventable death has poked its frightening face out of the shadows and said ‘You can’t protect yourself from me anymore. You never could, but now you can’t deny it. Death can happen to you at any moment’. There are three possible basic responses to this revelation. First, getting lost in fear of death–feeling anxious and vulnerable, wanting protection and security, displaying the flag because we want to be part of the group. Second, pushing away the fear–anger, macho wanting to destroy anything that seems threatening, indifference to the suffering of others, displaying the flag because we want to express our desire to obliterate the bad guys. Third, compassion for our own suffering and that of others–working directly with fear of death as it arises, transforming both anger and anxiety into a wish for compassion, displaying the flag to show solidarity with all those who lost loved ones in the tragedy and to express our love for freedom and democracy. If getting back to normal is being lost in the first or second possibility, then normal is suffering and there is
work to do in the service of cultivating compassion. Of course, none of us resides in any one of these possibilities all the time. Almost everyone I have spoken to about recent events feels some anxiety, some anger, and some compassion. Getting lost in fear of death or pushing it away can be obvious or it can be quite subtle. Even those utterly and passionately convinced of the righteousness of their position, whether it’s ‘violence only breeds more violence’ to ‘we must destroy them to protect ourselves’, are often forming their world views in a manner colored by unexamined fear. ‘What can I do to best contribute to the ‘war on terrorism’’? is a question being asked a lot these days. To the extent we truly feel compassion, compassion for the dead and the grieving, for ourselves, for the starving, for the frightened, for the angry, for the power mad, this compassion will motivate appropriate, correct action. And possibly compassion will lead to the wise and proper use of force. But to the extent that our motivations for action are colored by unexamined fear, ‘right action’ is to first examine the root of our fear, to find compassion for the part of me and you and them that is afraid. Powerful action untempered by compassion is truly dangerous. Action naturally arising from compassion heals. This day, more than ever, cries for healing. by Dale Borglum Two Wolves A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about
how he felt about the 9/11 tragedy. He said, "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one." The grandson asked him, "Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?" The grandfather answered, "The one I feed."
© living/dying project 2002
Before The First Step
For over twenty years, I have been blessed to be in close contact with many people who were approaching death. Almost all of these people were reaching out for healing— healing in relationship to death, healing in relationship to illness, in relationship to a wounded heart, to separation from their own self. My consuming interest, both personally and professionally, has been the healing process. Why do some people as they approach death experience a profound sense of wholeness, while others travel toward denial, depression, distraction? Is there some powerful truth about life and about healing that you and I can receive from those few who, as they went through the process of dying, deeply realized their wholeness? Why is it that the most alive and awake Americans I've known have been, almost without exception, people near death? My intuitive understanding is that the less I deny my relationship with death, the more healing will
manifest in my life and the more alive I will become. To enter into that sacred ever-present spaciousness while I am with someone close to death or while quietly alone, and then, in the stuff and activity of my life, to forget so thoroughly that which I have just directly experienced to be Presence constantly radiating within all form and action, together generate an increasingly irresistible pull to embody wholeness. During the past two years I have been on semi-retreat— abundant solitude, minimal social contact, being with just a few people at the end of their lives, and living with a lot of pain in my own body. Writing, teaching, being an “expert” on dying, and most administrative duties, have been put on hold as I’ve plunged into an investigation of what blocks or prevents my own healing and of the structure of the healing path itself. There is a path to healing that I have briefly written about in the last two newsletters: invocation, compassion, and then empowerment, leading to healing. Many spiritual seekers and many dying people have followed traditional practices from the world’s great healing/spiritual traditions. Each in its own language explicates a path to profound healing, a path particularly yearned for and cherished by the dying. And yet now at the cusp of the twenty-first century, we are so distracted and driven that healing becomes a set of practices and attitudes added as an adjunct to life, rather than the core focus of life. The healing path is the most demanding and rewarding route that one can pursue since by necessity it confronts all that has been hidden, feared, and avoided. During
these past two quiet years, studying and practicing, being with the dying, I learned—initially to my surprise but eventually with gratitude—that I need to go back to “before the beginning” of the healing path. I need to go back to my motivation for the first step. Tibetan Buddhism speaks particularly clearly about this “before the beginning of healing” stage. Even before we take the first step on the path to wholeness, before we invoke the spirit of healing, before we dedicate our actions to the welfare of all beings, we are asked to contemplate four self-evident truths. First, life is impermanent. We will all die. The time of death is uncertain. Some people facing the possibility of death have a remarkably clear connection with this truth. Many do not. To the extent I don’t know this truth deep in my gut, I will not be a healing force at the bedside of someone with a life-threatening disease. Whenever we get lost in the non-essential, we are lost in the illusion of immortality. Second, life is precious. There is great potential inherent in this moment. Healing is possible. Wholeness is our nature. Once again, being told that you will probably die soon can bring this truth into vivid focus. Third, our thoughts, speech and actions have an effect— the law of karma. What we do affects the healing process. Grace certainly can enter here. Fourth, being lost in duality, automatically reacting to pleasure and pain, to attraction and aversion, ultimately is unsatisfying, incomplete, and antithetical to healing.
Taken as a whole, what are the implications of these truths? Even though intellectually obvious, we haven’t gotten them until we have contemplated their meaning to the point that our fundamental motivation is transformed. Certainly their import is not an attempt to figure things out, but rather to inspire the motivation to essentialize one’s life. Now is the time to move toward healing, to do and then become the practice that cultivates invocation, compassion, and empowerment. These four preliminaries are instructions for living: Don’t cling to distractions and trivialities. Integrate wisdom into your actions rather than leaving it in your head. The motivation for practice is no longer only for one’s own healing, but for the well-being of all. These truths also embody the shadow—the unconscious, largely unexamined root fear of modern society. Many while traveling their path have cultivated compassion and empowerment; yet these qualities are not generally stabilized and integrated into our lives because, collectively and individually, going back to before the first step is what we most want to avoid, what our ego structure was forged to prevent. Approaching death can inspire one to essentialize life— living/dying on the edge, motivated to be fully alive in each moment, no longer able to put healing practice— prayer, meditation, visualization, surrender to the nondual necessity of each moment, the Name—in a compartment at a comfortable distance from one’s exposed core. These preliminary truths, though revealed and amplified in the dying process, are inherent, though often more easily ignored, even without the presence of
life-threatening illness. Few, however, open to the commitment and motivation inherent in these truths without first having an extreme life crisis. To the depth that we plunge into these four mindtransforming truths, we will find our path and move in the direction of healing. Invocation, taking refuge in that which is, bears fruit since now we invoke with the passion that comes from acknowledging truth. Invoking the spirit of healing, the Beloved, the Mother, the Christ, taking refuge. If we truly invoke, healing will already have begun. We then will be attracted to compassionate and empowered action in a natural way. Healing is received, ever-present. How much greater are the compassion and the wisdom that are often expressed during the crisis of approaching death than during the current election crisis. Disregarding the public good, ignoring the suffering of our neighbor, abusing mother earth, becomes increasingly painful and unacceptable as we embody the essence of the healing path. by Dale Borglum
© living/dying project 2002
How We Heal
Being intimate with death for the past twenty years increasingly has forced me to find ways to heal the aspects of myself that feel separate from God, from my own nature, from others. What follows is a short
description of what I have learned. This simple paradigm of the healing path is as practical and as accessible as I can make it. When one finally wants healing from the very depths of one’s ability to want, the path to healing appears. We all seek healing, healing from illness, from emotional pain, from addiction, from our disconnection with the sacred in our lives. Religions, psychotherapy, twelve-step programs, all affirm that a path to healing does exist. Going beyond differences in language and culture, there are specific essential qualities that all true healing paths include. In fact, true and lasting healing cannot occur without awakening and stabilizing these qualities in our lives. These qualities are invocation, compassion/ devotion and empowerment. We first must invoke that which heals, the spirit of healing that transcends that which we can know and understand, the Presence of the Divine. We invoke the name of Christ. We invoke the healing power of bringing elements of our unconscious to consciousness. We invoke the truth of the existence of an immediately available path to healing. To the depth to which we invoke, the depth to which we know that God’s Name is God, to which we know that contact with the sacred brings healing, to this extent and only to this extent do we enter the path to healing. Invocation awakens awareness-moment-to-moment awareness of the presence and the absence of the spirit of healing in our lives. When we deeply invoke, awareness is strong. When our invocation is timid, our awareness is weak and fragile. The entire path of our healing directly follows from that which we invoke and from how deep our faith is as we invoke. As
you admit what most deeply asks for healing in your life, in what do you have faith? Invocation awakens awareness of Presence in our lives and devotion is aroused. Invocation awakens awareness of absence of Presence, of suffering in ourselves and in others, and compassion is aroused. The heart fills with devotion and compassion. No longer are we preoccupied with healing only ourselves. Our motivation for continuing our journey is now our wish for the happiness and the healing of all beings (including ourselves) and our yearning to deepen our devotion. We feel a slight sadness whenever we notice that we have temporarily lost this connection of the heart. First we learn compassion for ourselves, then feel our connection to others and finally realize that self and other are actually one, that devotee and the object of devotion are one. When compassion transcends the dualistic sense that I am feeling compassion for myself or someone else and when devotion transcends the sense that I am feeling devotion to the external sacred, then empowerment is awakened. That which we initially invoked is no longer separate from the one who invoked. The power of the spirit of healing, of the deity invoked, is now fully awakened. Not me healing, but surrender to the power which heals. Devotion and compassion have deepened to finally allow this surrender, this empowerment Resting in the invoked Presence with devotion and compassion, empowered in harmony with divine will, healing then naturally unfolds. by Dale Borglum
© living/dying project 2002
Path to Healing
We all want and need healing. Healing from physical disease, from emotional wounding, from clinging to the conceptual, healing from the disconnection with the sacred in our lives, we each in our own way are striving to find a greater sense of wholeness. Even if we addictively cling to our old, destructive patters of behavior, we yearn for the wholeness that we hope lies at the end of the healing path. Yet what is this path to healing? So many books, tapes, workshops, therapies, groups, even religions, offer the promise of healing. How can we distinguish genuine, legitimate healing modalities from the useless, the opportunistic, and the dangerous? Are there fundamental components that each true path to healing must include, healing in a larger sense of the word that occurs when we deeply contact presence or living spirit, healing that may or may not lead to a physical cure. In my experience the qualities of invocation, awareness, compassion and empowerment are essential landmarks on the path to wholeness. To the extent that any of these four qualities are ignored or shortchanged by a healing modality, the depth of healing available will be limited. Christianity, Buddhism and psychotherapy, each with their own vocabulary and emphasis, utilize these components of healing. Invocation
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step said a Chinese Taoist sage. The healing journey is no different. But the first step on the healing path is often the most difficult, because we are confronted with the part of ourselves that needs healing, a part that is out of control, frightened, angry, avoided, addictive, hopeless— the place that until the very moment of taking the first step on this demanding and surprising journey has been unbearable to embrace, even to touch. Eventually having some part of ourselves untouched itself becomes unbearable and we are compelled to begin the journey back to wholeness. We have as yet been unable to take that first step so we reach out for help. With a whisper or a wail or a silent movement, we invoke that which lies beyond and within our suffering, that which we know is true and real and can be trusted. Thomas Merton says “Prayer and love are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone.” Whenever our heart feels like a hard stone, there we must begin this journey, again and again. All true healing traditions offer an initial inspiration, some core teaching that we can trust when we feel lost, helpless, and profoundly wounded, alone. Invoking this we begin the journey leading to wholeness. Whether we are dealing with a bottomless, out of control addiction, a life-threatening illness or “merely” being totally lost in a passing emotion, invocation offers a life preserver in the stormy ocean. Calling out with tender love or with profound desperation, we trust that there is something larger than our present mind can know, something that will eventually lead to healing, healing that may come in a form that is unexpected, more penetrating and transformative even than we had hoped.
What do we actually invoke? In Buddhism we take refuge and continue to take refuge in the Three Jewels: the actual existence of enlightenment which is the possibility of total healing from all suffering as personified by the Buddha, he path of wisdom and compassion to this freedom and the community of people who have walked and are walking this path. Usually taking refuge is done in rather a formal way, simply repeating three times that we take refuge in the fact of the awakened nature of all beings, in the way to this freedom from suffering and in all those who have been on this path. How acutely we feel our status as a refugee from the realm of wholeness determines to what extent taking refuge actually awakens sufficient trust to take these first, difficult steps. We are no longer on familiar ground, but then familiar ground was becoming intolerable. To the depth that our suffering has inspired our invocation to be alive and real, relief and courage will arise from taking refuge Christians invoke the spirit of Christ. Christ who forgives all. Christ who said “All that you ask the Father in my name, He will give it;" who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” When we are lost in suffering, seemingly large or small, we are separated from the Beloved whose very nature is freedom and brings us to freedom. When we love and can’t feel our Beloved, we call out louder and louder or softer and softer until He/She hears. Of course, we are always heard. The point of invocation is not to get God’s attention but to get our attention, to use our faith, no matter how wavering, to begin the process of purifying attention that brings us at last to healing. Before we can follow any of the other injunctions to compassion and faith, we must first seek the Kingdom of God. As
Christians, we pray, we invoke God’s name. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God”. The power of our prayer is equal to the depth of our yearning, how large, how real for us is the God to which we pray. We don’t usually think of invocation in relation to the psychotherapeutic process, but what is it that brings us for the first time through the office door into relationship with the psychotherapist? The healing work of therapy is difficult, often painful, and we intuitively know this even before we begin. But we also intuitively know that bringing material that previously has been unconscious, below the light or awareness, often from early childhood, to the conscious mind and then investigating this material will ultimately lead to healing. We trust that uncovering the truth of our situation is a far more healing motivation than clinging to comfort or security or romance. Without this trust, it will be difficult, if not impossible to be vulnerable and open and present and thus embark upon this journey. So wherever we are, whatever our situation, no matter how deep or messy the wound, no matter how much blood we have lost in the battle, we can invoke the Spirit of Truth, or Christ, or the path to the realization of the truth. When we invoke timidly as a formalism, with only our mind, unwilling to admit the depth of our despair, confusion, loss, then the healing that grows from this seed will be commensurably limited. When we invoke the Spirit of Truth, the Beloved, touching the awesomeness and benevolence of the Invoked, then we have begun again the sacred journey home to wholeness. To paraphrase the poet Kabir, ”When the Guest, the Spirit of Truth, is being searched for, it is the intensity of the
longing that does all of the work. Look at me and you will see slave of that intensity.” Awareness Now we have taken the first step by awakening trust. To the depth we trust we are willing to bring awareness to what is asking for healing. What is going on right now, in our mind, in our senses, in our body? Not merely superficial, obvious experience, but because we trust, we can begin to touch the woundedness itself. Mostly we are preoccupied by our reactions to the wound, lost in old patterns of distraction, intellectualization, anxiety, irritation, impatience. Invocation has temporarily brought all this to rest, resting in the ever-changing present and has awakened the courage to embark upon the healing quest. Before healing can happen, the purifying light of awareness must shine on what is out of balance, where we are diseased. Christ enjoined us to love God and have compassion for our neighbor. What blocks this opening into love? What hides the Beloved from view? Of this we must become aware in order to move toward healing union with the Divine One. Awareness is the purifying force in Buddhism, the force that purifies the mind and the heart. Many Buddhist meditation practices are designed to cultivate awareness —bringing awareness to the movement of the mind, of the body, especially of the breath. These meditations aren’t really about the object of awareness, but about cultivating a deepening awareness that will eventually
lead to clear seeing of all that asks for healing, not just what is on the surface of the mind. Much of psychotherapy is directly concerned with bringing to conscious awareness material that previously has been beneath the level of conscious awareness. We learn to be curious about the truth of the moment rather than compulsively avoiding the painful, compulsively grasping at notions of happiness. Compassion We have a wound. We hide it. We hide from it, not really knowing the shape or even the exact location of the wound. We do know that something definitely hurts. Alone we have been unable to locate the wound specifically enough to begin the healing process. So we call out; we invoke the intercession of Christ, of the Holy Mother; we invoke the Triple Jewel, invoke the Spirit of Nature as we spend solitary hours in the natural world away from society, invoke the soul of great music. We pour ourselves out to something that we trust is larger than our woundedness. With this trust we begin to relax enough to see with clear awareness the nature of the wound. This wound may be deep, festering close to our core, requiring long and patient movement towards healing, the work of a lifetime or it may be superficial—a passing mood or judgment for instance. As we cultivate and practice awareness, we come in contact with actions, thoughts, feelings, sensations in us or in relation to the suffering of others that we haven’t seen before or that we have seen only incompletely and sporadically, places that we haven’t trusted that we could
truly touch. Awareness brings to light the painful and without a soft heart we will resist the seemingly unbearable nature of all of the suffering we see in others and experience in ourselves. Compassion, keeping a loving heart while touching suffering, is essential at this point if we are to proceed along the healing path. Compassion makes bearable the touching of the places that need healing, the places that block healing. “Grief is the garden of compassion," says the Sufi poet Rumi. When we become aware of the grief that has been compartmentalized away from our sight, from our touch, then compassion blossoms. Empowerment If the suffering that the compassionate heart opens to is deep enough, personal enough, vivid enough, the heart becomes overwhelmed. Compassion then is withdrawn unless this compassion is supported by power, by strength. We live in a society that doesn’t deal with power very well. Mostly the power we encounter is rigid, opposed to vulnerability, driven by need, the false power of the ego. True power, essential power, is selfless, arises from humility, is in total harmony with the power of the Divine. Unsupported by essential power, compassion is a lovely feeling that doesn’t manifest as effective compassionate action. Clearly, healing is impossible until we cultivate and purify our relationship with power. It is tragic that the right use of essential power is a topic rarely addressed in popular culture, in religious and spiritual organizations or in most systems of healing. Empowerment, the awakening of true power, not ego’s false power, can arise only after compassion has purified
our fearful clinging to our notions of inadequacy, of a self that is separate from God. Empowerment is our connection to the Ground of Being, the Divine, and it brings the Transcendental Source of all power into relationship with self and with other. Christ says the doer of true action is “not me but the Father in me.” Also “not my will but thine be done,” and “who ever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” We are asked to create a space, a space that is slowly and painstakingly carved out the solidity of our separateness with the non-violent force of compassion. In this space God can enter in and the healing power of God can manifest. As long as we think we are doing it, that we are the healer, there is no room for God to work through us, for the force of compassion to fully manifest. In psychotherapy we begin by bringing to awareness the feelings and habitual patterns that “I” have and then learn to have compassion for this “I”. As compassion softens our reactivity to this “I”, we now are able to explore directly the nature of this wounded “I”. Rather than attempt to safeguard and defend self and its system of thought, we dislodge the ego from its central position. All in our defensive structure that has been tightly blocking the expression of power is dissolved in selflessness. Empty of self, we connect with the One Source from which true power arises. The historical development of the main schools of Buddhism reflects this path to healing. First, Hinayana, the original teachings of the Buddha, emphasizes
awareness. Next, as Buddhism spread west to China, Japan and other nearby countries, Mahayana developed the teaching that emphasizes the cultivation of compassion after a base of awareness has been developed. Then, Vajrayana, the Buddhism of Tibet, adds the practice of empowerment. The heart purified by awareness and compassion is empowered to relate directly, passionately, selflessly with the Sacred. The qualities of the Divine are awakened within us through our empowered relationships with the deity. As we become selfless, sacred spaciousness is created for the deity to act through us. Healing Invocation unlocks the courage and the trust needed to begin the healing quest. Awareness, the antidote to denial, allows us to directly contact that which we have been avoiding, that which is asking to be healed. Compassion, the antidote to fear, softens the heart, brings humility and shows us that the present situation is workable. Then empowerment, the antidote to inadequacy, the connection to egoless power, unlocks the ability to act selflessly. We are present for the content of our experience with awareness, for the process of our experience with compassion, for the space in which experience arises with empowerment. Finally, healing is available to us. No longer in denial, no longer motivated by fear, by selfishness, by a sense of inadequacy, we are now able to contact the Sacred and it is through contact with the Sacred that healing occurs. Rather than attempting to fix what felt broken, we move passionately toward life, surrendered in devotion to Divine Will. Any healing that can happen will happen. The paths of
Buddhism, Christianity and psychotherapy converge in healing. We all need healing though not everyone wants to do the work that leads to healing. Addiction to our woundedness for secondary gains is common. Through the initiations of invocation, awareness, compassion and empowerment, our resistances to and motivations for healing are purified. The process is not nearly as linear as the above discussion might suggest. In practice the work of healing is much more of an art form than a scientific discipline. We certainly don’t always need to start at the beginning of the process as it has been described. Sometimes, for example, when we notice that we are lost in suffering, we can directly feel compassion for the situation or directly drop down into the spacious belly of empowerment without having to deepen our trust through invocation. The healing process: invocation—awareness—compassion —empowerment—healing is best thought of as a circle or even a spiral that we keep going around at deeper and deeper or higher and higher levels (depending on how the particular situation at hand suggests an image to us) until all of our resistance to total devotional surrender to Divine Will, to the Spirit of Truth, has been lovingly and passionately purified. If the issue at hand to be healed is a core issue, deeply embedded, of long standing, we then may have to spiral around this healing path more times than we can count. If this issue is a momentary resistance to the unimpeded flow of life, then one clear moment of empowered compassion will heal. These ideas are merely tools. Sometimes knowing we have a toolkit with something in it is a big help. by Dale Borglum
© living/dying project 2002
The Shadow of Death
The dying long have been marginalized, even ignored, in our modern society. In response to this tragic enactment of our collective denial of death, the hospice movement and the conscious dying movement in recent years have emerged and flourished. Spiritual methodologies, particularly Buddhist, have informed these efforts to bring compassionate care to the dying. As well as serving the dying person, working with the dying increasingly has been perceived to be a deep inspiration and stimulus to spiritual development for the caregiver. To paraphrase Trungpa Rinpoche, "Until one comes into intimate contact with death, spiritual practice is dilettantish." Certainly the dying deserve care that is as conscious as possible and certainly we can learn profound lessons from being in intimate contact with death that are almost impossible to come by elsewhere. Much has been written about consciously being with the dying. Very little has been said about the shadow of this work. Let me briefly recount the stories of two of my clients. Robert had metastatic brain cancer. He had done Buddhist meditation practice for many years. Pictures of saints and spiritual books filled his room in Berkeley. His caregivers were also meditators. They had known Robert for years and cared about him deeply. At times the room was filled with a palpable peace. At other times Robert was angry, bitter, petty. For example, during one of my visits his longtime girl friend appeared and asked Robert for his forgiveness and love. She desperately wanted the
painful rift in this relationship to be mended in its final days. Robert responded, "Isn't the money I'm leaving you enough? Leave me alone." Was this voice Robert's personality, a manifestation of his fear of his imminent death, or "just" symptomology of organic brain disease? I had the advantage of not knowing Robert before his illness, the deeply creative and exuberant Robert others spoke of. His caregivers and loved ones compared this "dying person" both with who he was before his illness and with their ideal of someone who was dying consciously. They wanted him to die well. They were frustrated with the ways Robert continued to be a "difficult patient", not spiritual enough. Some months later I had the blessing of working with a couple whose baby was dying. Baby Brice was profoundly brain damaged during a traumatic birth. He could not see, hear, swallow, cough or use his higher brain. Only base brain functions remained. Brice lived a few days short of five months, most of the time at home with his parents. His mother was a Zen Buddhist and his father was a Christian. Their commitment to his loving care was profound. Brice required constant attention. Since he could not cough or swallow, he could suffocate on his own saliva in a matter of moments if left unattended. Every week of his life except one during which he retained fluids, Brice lost weight. His face was perfectly beautiful. His only contact with the outside world seemed to be through the sense of touch. In individual human terms, the death of a baby is a tragic loss; joy and hope transformed into despair. Brice's father said to me about the birth, "In a few short minutes the highest point of my life became the lowest point of my life." The mind cannot comprehend such a sudden blow. I, too, was moved by Brice. His death saddened me
deeply. But when I would hold Brice in my arms, I often felt expansive, joyful, sometimes ecstatic. My guess was that because he was distracted so little by contact with the outside world, he remained in that totally simple and innocent state of the newly born and that while holding him, I would empathetically float with him in some vast space that he seemed to inhabit. When we examine our reactions to these two stories, most of us are probably drawn to and attracted by the story of Brice. "Positive" qualities such as heroism, compassion, purity, transcendence arise. On the other hand, the story of Robert most likely evokes aversion, disappointment, nonfulfillment. How automatic and unexamined are our responses to these two rather extreme stories? How is our shadow carried in not just one but both of the stories? Remember that the shadow is out of our awareness; that is why it is called the shadow. The shadow manifests in many forms in the context of working with the dying. It may be easy to read the following examples thinking of them in either-or terms and feel that they don't apply to you or that they are so obvious you would be clearly aware of them if they would ever manifest in your relationships with dying. The shadow can be very subtle as well as obvious. I would guess that all of the following forms of the shadow appear for all caregivers sometime, at least in subtle form. This precisely is why being intimate with death potentially can be such a rich spiritual practice.
▪ Spiritual inflation--We have the impression that we are especially sensitive, open, positive and spiritual, so automatically we must have a gift for working with the dying. Then as caregivers we can feel we are so intimate with the mystery of death we become even more inflated.
▪ ▪ ▪
Intimacy with death can be intoxicating. We become lost in what we think know. We become experts in helping the dying. Laying a spiritual trip--As caregivers trying to help you die consciously, we feel there are certain attitudes and practices that you must use. For example, stay positive and hopeful. Transcend your body. Learn to mediate before it's too late. It worked for us so it will work for you. Expectation of a good death--In a possibly very attenuated way, there is a moment to moment expectation we have of your process that conforms to what we think you should be doing to achieve a "good" death. Fear of drowning--You won't be breathing much longer. What does this imply about our own mortality? Will we drown in the dark waters of this existential abyss? Unresolved grief--Our unresolved grief compels us to distance ourselves unconsciously from the dying person, forcing him to carry universal illness. Transference--The dying person is angry at us because she is dying and we are a convenient target or she sees us as a savior, as a lover, as the representative of death, as a hero. How do we respond to this? Counter-transference--We fall in love with the radiant, transparent, beautiful one approaching death. We judge his lack of effort to "die well," his wallowing in emotion, his fear. We become bored or impatient with the apparent lack of movement in the dying process. Voyeurism--We want to create good spiritual feelings for ourselves, get some kind of "hit" from being close to the dying experience. Idiot compassion--Since you are dying and we aren't, we will always try to be nice, soothing and nonconfrontational with you. Telling the truth or expressing our own feelings might be too upsetting to you. (Idiot compassion is an extreme form of sympathy that doesn't take into account the full range of compassionate action and actually blocks true compassion. Idiot compassion can be manifested in a much
Obviously many more examples could be mentioned. Just to name a few: wanting the person to live, wanting the person to die, hogging the patient for ourselves (especially at the moment of death), loss of healthy boundaries, burnout, seductiveness. The shadow arises when we are not clearly aware of our motivations. The fear of looking at oneself is in direct proportion to one's fear of death. An intimate relationship with death is guaranteed to uncover our shadow material, to shove into our faces any need we have to know, to be in control, to cling to any identity no matter how noble. Dying people have bodies, bodies that are often filled with pain, with drugs, with nausea, with fear. The great danger in bringing a meditative approach to working with the dying is that the practitioner becomes subtly or not so subtly attached to certain mind/body states. Transcendence, pleasant sensations, calm mind are desired for the patient and then the shadow in its many forms appears. Thinking we know well the entire intricate form of the shadow is itself the shadow. Writing or reading articles about the shadow with the need to help, to provide answers, to find answers, even to understand, also casts the shadow. Please read the following paragraphs about "what has worked for me" knowing that there are no solid and definite answers to the issue of the shadow.
more exaggerated and destructive form than the above mentioned example suggests.) Sentimentality--We become lost in our sweet, romanticized emotional response to the dying process rather than maintaining a clear awareness of what we are feeling.
In my own work I have found two powerful tools for approaching and getting acquainted with the shadow. The first is compassion, the clear heart meeting suffering. In the context of working with the dying, we usually think of having compassion for the patient. But compassion cannot be confined to a one-directional process. The entire situation must be included. The caregiver, the shadow of the caregiver, the finite embodied nature of the dying person, these all cry out for compassion. "Compassion" literally meaning "with passion." There is so much suffering in and around us, so much suffering that is exposed by death, that to stay open and connected to life, all of our passion is demanded. "There is no wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid and so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion. It is the only desert that shall truly flourish like the lily," says Thomas Merton. Compassion is a desert because true compassion springs from emptiness, from selflessness, rather than from sentiment. This desert flourishes because our true nature is compassion. Conversely, cultivating compassion as a practice purifies the mind that clings fearfully to the notion of a separate self, the clinging that is at the root of the shadow. Without compassion, releasing this clinging while in intimate contact with death is unbearable. As Ernest Becker says "The irony of man's condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we...shrink from being fully alive." Rather than hoping to transcend our shadow, can we bring an embodied compassion to the very fear and anxiety which generates this shadow? When compassion deepens, it naturally leads us to a second approach for working with the shadow-- the view
that we can rest in the true nature of mind itself without the need to try to suppress, cultivate or improve anything, the view of dzogchen. The dying person is being drawn inexorably into this nondual state. No matter how skillful our support of this person, to the extent this support arises from a mind caught in the dualities of me/ you, life/death, spiritual/mundane, good death/bad death and so forth, to this very extent the shadow of death arises and the message to the dying person is problematic. The view is to see directly the essence of mind which is empty, spacious, pure like the sky, undefiled by death. How can this view be put into practice when working with the dying? Rather than plunging directly into the "helping encounter," I pause and in a living way invoke "that which I trust the most." We all trust something. (Some have argued with this last statement, but I truly believe we do. And if someone trusts nothing, can she actually be open and present in the face of death.) Invoke the Sacred, the Nature of Mind, a deity, in whatever form or non-form touches you most directly. Feel the devotion that naturally arises when experiencing this Presence. And then simply rest here. A deep sense of trust and confidence. The dying person, me, both of our shadows, all of it unfolding within this Presence, within the body of Christ. "We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a Reality. We are that Reality. When we understand this, we will see that we are nothing. And being nothing, we are everything. That is all."--Kalu Rinpoche by Dale Borglum
© living/dying project 2002