Question about dementia

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.

Question about dementia

Postby thansz » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:46 pm

Hello,

My understanding is that in Theravada buddhism, the mindset of a person passing away is very important in terms of conditioning the next form of existence. Can someone explain what the Therevadan viewpoint is for someone who passes away while suffering from dementia? If a person lived a good life for most of their years, but then had anxiety from dementia and pass away while experiencing anxiety, would that have a negative effect on their next existence?

My understanding is that in buddhism, the main form of kamma the Buddha focused on was that of volitional action. What I don't understand is how that relates to someone whose "volition" is greatly impaired by a disease like dementia.

Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you.
User avatar
thansz
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:29 am

Re: Question about dementia

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:26 pm

I would think that most dementia is caused by physical failure of the brain, not some kind of kammic destruction of the mind. So if one is not in control of their actions or otherwise capable, then it would be difficult to argue that they would suffer in the next life for it.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
User avatar
LonesomeYogurt
 
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: America

Re: Question about dementia

Postby santa100 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:58 am

Venerable Mahanama had a similar concern and the Buddha gave him a wonderful instruction using the tree simile here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
santa100
 
Posts: 1503
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Question about dementia

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:15 am

Thanks for the link Santa!

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10124
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Question about dementia

Postby santa100 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:33 am

You're welcome Mike.. :group:
santa100
 
Posts: 1503
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Question about dementia

Postby James the Giant » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:30 am

santa100 wrote:Venerable Mahanama had a similar concern and the Buddha gave him a wonderful instruction using the tree simile here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I love it when a sutta is found that answers a question perfectly, fully, and briefly. Thank you!
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
User avatar
James the Giant
 
Posts: 774
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 6:41 am
Location: Perth, Australia

Re: Question about dementia

Postby khlawng » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:13 am

To OP,

Thanks for bringing this topic up. I am witnessing a number of my elder relatives going through dementia as we speak and it is really terrifying. Majority of them are over 70 and suffer from short-term memory loss. Commonly, they misplace things and end up accusing innocent people of stealing their belongings.

Of the 4 cases I know of, 2 of them weren't the most pleasant people pre-dementia and from my knowledge, is going through some tough times with their dementia e.g. little support from family. One elderly lady passed away a couple of years ago as a result of post-dementia parkinson and she spent some 10 years in a catatonic state before her heart stopped. The other secured her lonliness through her unresonable behaviour including accussing her care-taker of trying to seduce her husband (who by the way is no longer around).

The other 2 are older folks who in my opinion were generous and lived a morale life and is now being cared very well for by their family including one who has 3 children who are all medical doctors.

None however, are buddhist nor medidated in their lives. Having said that, I do know of one buddhist meditator who is currently going through a second childhood. But he seems to practise some form of off-brand meditation, dabbling in spirits, ghosts and what not. I am not trying to draw any conclusion. I am just sharing with you guys what I know base on my personal experience.

I did ask this question to a meditation teacher before and his response was that as it is right now, even without dementia, our minds are deluded by experiences generated through our sense bases. A well trained mind (will have a higher capacity to overcome delusions and dementia is just a disease that results in highten delusions. So I am guessing that as you progress in your practise and you happen to draw the demantia karma card somewhere down the line, one may be incapable of certain physical, bodily or mental functions but you will be able to keep calm regardless of whatever activity or inactivity that your sense bases is generating.

Having said that, the mere thought of going through some form of mental disease or dementia still terrifies me from time to time. This and given my family history, is why I am putting in extra effort in my training.
User avatar
khlawng
 
Posts: 113
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:28 pm

Re: Question about dementia

Postby thansz » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:02 pm

Thank you for the replies everyone. The sutta reference Santa provided was an especially great consolation. It's difficult to see a loved one who has been such a good person their entire life have everything change so quickly for them.
User avatar
thansz
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:29 am

Re: Question about dementia

Postby thansz » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:05 pm

Many thanks for everyones replies. It's difficult to see a loved one who lived such a good life suddenly have everything change and to be so fearful and anxious.

The sutta reference Santa provided was a consolation.
User avatar
thansz
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:29 am


Return to Discovering Theravāda

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 3 guests