Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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retrofuturist
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:22 am

Greetings Will,
Will wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:06 pm
Whether religious or non-religious, if no one close to the dying is available, what Xtian would object to:
In the sky above, imagine that you are seeing Jesus and the Saints in the form of beings of light. These beings of great beauty, unconditional love, boundless joy, amazing peace, profound power, and total openness are sending light rays of warmth and joy in all directions with love.
Or for the non-religious:
In the sky above, imagine that you are seeing beings of light. These beings of great beauty, unconditional love, boundless joy, amazing peace, profound power, and total openness are sending light rays of warmth and joy in all directions with love.
These sound like duties best performed upon request, not imposed upon another.

Chaplains exist to provide such services in hospitals and hospices.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Will
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Will » Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:52 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:22 am
These sound like duties best performed upon request, not imposed upon another.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Of course, there is no suggestion by the Tulku of any imposition. If one, as a chaplin or helper of same, would like other beneficial methods, the chapter is full of them.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Bundokji
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Bundokji » Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:44 am

I think it is very unlikely to be alone with a dying person. Most probably, the dying person will be accompanied by a group of relatives and loved ones in which each will show a reaction reflecting their own personalities and temperament. In the world we live in, love and care are associated with fear of losing hence making drama at the moment of death is to be expected, otherwise, you will probably be described as heartless.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by binocular » Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:30 pm

Will wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:19 pm
So bino, what you are saying is that a good Theravadin cannot help a dying non-Buddhist and may even harm?

Wonder what percentage of lay & monastic Theravadins agree?
You'll just have to ask them directly.

To the best of my knowledge, according to Theravada doctrine, one cannot actually do anything for the dead or the dying, in terms of their rebirth. This is one of the major points of difference between the Buddhist schools.

The instructions given by the tulku in the OP seem more like self-indulgence for the Mahayani/Vajrayani who thinks those things.

- - -
Nicolas wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:09 pm
These are my own thoughts, I have no experience in the matter.
Speaking like someone who does have some experience in the matter:

I find it all depends on the relationship one has had with the dying person and how well one knows the dying person.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Justsit » Fri Aug 23, 2019 9:20 pm

Will wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:59 pm
So far, I notice no interest, much less guidance, in helping the dying person who is not a Buddhist.
Re: non-Buddhists
I worked as a hospice nurse for four years and attended many deaths. All our nurses were given a course on spiritual care of the dying, even though we had chaplains and social workers who mainly performed that function, because sometimes those team members were unavailable (attending another patient, etc.). We were taught to work with each patient's individual circumstance. So, for example, with Catholics we referenced the Blessed Virgin Mary, while with other Christian denominations we did not. We also offered general comforting words to those of no formal religious denomination, usually focused on being with loved ones again and emphasizing that their work here on earth was done. Many patients expressed great relief from getting to say goodbye and knowing that their survivors would miss them but would be okay. I don't recall having any Buddhist patients.

In my experience, people die the way they've lived. Some deaths are very difficult, others quite beautiful. Some people saw angels; seeing parents and grandparents was very common. A few people were convinced they were "going to hell," and their deaths tended to be long and arduous.

The most difficult death I remember is a young man in his 30's who had just attained sobriety and freedom from addiction, found a new job, bought a house, had a nice girlfriend. And then he developed an aggressive bone cancer. He was young, mostly strong, and he really wasn't ready to die, he struggled and fought for several days. It was very, very difficult to watch, but he had a wonderful support system, and the hospice team worked together to do what we could.

There were other, beautiful deaths as well. People who were ready and were convinced that a positive experience was awaiting them seemed to have more peaceful, quiet deaths, just slipping away.

Looking back, it was hospice that really brought me to Buddhism, I think. When "old age, sickness, and death" is no longer theoretical, somewhere in the future, but part of one's daily life, it becomes much more immediate, and the absolute certainty that one day "that will be me" changed my perspective and priorities radically.

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