Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Noble Truth about Suffering

My mother, the last of her generation, who had been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer, is past the median life expectancy for this illness. At this point there is little likelihood she will read this, but if she does, let it be known that I love her and my care for her is omnipresent, and this is one way of practice for all beings.

I had been with her a month or so after she'd been diagnosed and started treatment. She looked frail then.

But now I am thousands of miles away.

Truly I have left home physically, but the heart wrenches nonetheless.

I call her every day, and see how she is, and it's about what you'd expect.

She certainly is suffering in her path to death. The thing about a sickness like small cell lung cancer is that death takes time. It makes a mockery of "the sufferings of Jesus Christ." He had so many advantages, not the least of which is that his death, if he was a he, etc. etc., didn't take long. And it was no more noble or holy than the death in which I can only observe from thousands of miles away, unable to touch anything related to it.

And all I can do help us to realize none of this at that point beyond birth and death.

I had expected this sort of thing when I moved to the Pacific Northwest, and now it is happening.

The Buddha was asked to bring a girl back to life; he replied to his supplicant that the parent should bring something from 5 houses that had never known death.

If I were to say something as glib though, it would not reflect the very humanity of my own suffering in response to the situation. It goes with the territory to desire whole lots of things in this situation: that she goes peacefully, without much pain or that she recover but not stay in the in-between-but-declining state.

But those things are relatively unlikely for weeks-to-months. So I have to go beyond that attachment right freakin' now.

My sitting's for all beings whether they know it or like it or not.

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