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Kapleau has not written a narrowly Buddhist book.


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Death is nothing but an ongoing expansion of life, to which there is no limit. For Buddhists, the great matter of life and death includes this odd circularity.


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What is actually moving from moment to moment is more like a constantly changing process, a flow of energy. Death is a change, to be sure, but just one in a long series, no more startling, perhaps, than the onset of puberty. After death the energy continues, and keeps going through changes, on to a new birth. Philip Kapleau is a revered teacher, one of the first Westerners to practice authentic Zen and the author of the seminal text Three Pillars of Zen. The Zen of Living and Dying is a revision of his book The Wheel of Life and Death , and includes sections on death, dying, karma, and rebirth.

As a longtime teacher, Kapleau is probably at his best when he reviews the standard teachings of Buddhism. His explication of the nine parts of consciousness is quite interesting, as are his discussions of the Four Noble Truths, rebirth and karma.

The Zen of Living and Dying / Lessons from the Dying

I also felt that he was rather hard on suicides, most of whom are in the grips of a brand of depression that the rest of us can hardly imagine. But Kapleau writes well and with real authority, and gives an interesting overview of Buddhist teaching. Smith began in a lay monastery in the United States, then spent some years as a forest monk in Thailand.

In the early eighties however, he felt a certain dryness in his life, and subsequently disrobed in order to become a hospice worker, which he has been since He is currently Director of Hospice of Seattle and leads vipassana retreats at the Insight Meditation Society and elsewhere.

In fact, Lessons from the Dying is almost deceptively humble, with its modest title and somewhat plodding structure. His book starts slowly, and the early chapters seem a series of platitudes, but by chapter 4 he is getting more concrete.


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  • Smith states that some of the most difficult deaths he has witnessed were those of people who believed death to be a spiritual experience—and who could not therefore open up to it as it really was. According to the Buddha, not everyone fears death. I had two of my children die in my arms.

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    I have looked Death right in the eyes and his eyes are kind. Inspired by the medieval death manual Ars Moriendi, or the Art of Dying , T he Art of Dying Well is the definitive update for our modern age, and illuminates the path to a better end of life. Her reasonable, down-to-earth tone makes for an effective preparatory guide.

    It is a guide for staying as healthy and happy as possible while aging, and also shows how important it is to be medically informed and know our rights in the communities where we live, in order to stay in charge of our lives and therefore less afraid of the future. Katy Butler has written a very honest book.

    The Art of Dying Well | Book by Katy Butler | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

    I just wish I had read it ten years ago. You can do it now! Katy Butler has clear eyes and speaks plainly about complicated decisions.

    This book is chock-full of good ideas. Armed with this superb book, you can take back control of how you live before you die.

    The Zen of Living and Dying: A Practical and Spiritual Guide

    A crucial addition to the bookshelves of those seeking agency, comfort and meaning, The Art of Dying Well is not only about dying. A remarkable feat. Sherwin B. It is riveting, and even with parents long gone, I found it very hard to put down. I am deeply grateful for its truth, wisdom, and gorgeous stories—some heartbreaking, some life-giving, some both at the same time. Butler is an amazing and generous writer. This book will change you, and, I hope, our society.

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    Given our rapidly aging population, the timing of this tough and important book could not be better. Impeccably reported, Knocking on Heaven's Door grapples with how we need to protect our loved ones and ourselves. With candidness and reverence, Butler examines one of the most challenging questions a child may face: how to let a parent die with dignity and integrity. Honest and compassionate From her own closely-examined personal experience, she fearlessly poses the difficult questions that sooner or later will face us all.

    It is not just about dying, it is about life, our political and medical system, and how to face and address the profound ethical and personal issues that we encounter as we care for those facing dying and death. A splendid and compassionate endeavor. With courage, unrelenting honesty, and deepest compassion, Butler's prose and her saber-sharp indictment of certain medical habits. By clicking 'Sign me up' I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the privacy policy and terms of use.