This is a teaching on accompanying the sick and dying.
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Dear Thầy, Dear Sangha, I had the blessing of receiving teachings from you for such a long time since the 1980s, and I thank you deeply. 30 years? 34 years? Yes, that's right. The family retreats in Honolulu You are my continuation body. I work as a psychotherapist, and even though I have had such wonderful teachings, I found when I was diagnosed with cancer 12 years ago that it was extremely hard. And I learned a new way about suffering in my body and mind. And because I had a practice, I really did very well through the process. But now I work with people with cancer, and I have created a mindfulness retreat for people with cancer. And I know well that the fear is so different when the fear of death is not abstract. It's in your own body and the fear of uncertainty where people live constantly from test to test. And I would love any teachings that you might give us on how to work with these deep fears. And anything else you might say that I would like to pass on to this community. Thank you. In this retreat, we have been meditating on this topic. We look into the notion of death and fear. And we know that when you get the right view, you'll be free from fear and despair. And that's why if we had the right view, not as a theory but as a real experience, and that it can help people a lot. When you sit close to a person, who is dying. And you have that insight of no birth and no death. If you have that peace, then you can be very helpful, and the person who is dying, will not suffer and he or she can die peacefully. That is in the case of Anathapindika. The lay practitioner. Anathapindika was a lay practitioner. He was a businessman. And when he traveled to the Kingdom of Rājagaha, the city of Rājagaha, he met with the Buddha for the first time, and he invited the Buddha to come to his country, the city Savatthi. and he offered him a practice, a park, a lovely park to be served as a practice center. And the day Anathapindika was dying. The venerable Sariputra came, together with his younger brother in the Dharma. And that was recommended by the Buddha. And then during that, during that visit, Sariputra tried to try to help Anathapindika to touch the nature of no birth and no death, very skillfully. And the story is written down in a Sutra called Teaching Given to The Dying Person. And Sariputra is the big brother, the big Dharma brother of all of us. He was very skillful. Ananda was sitting close to him, and the first thing he asked: Dear, dear friend. How do you feel in your body? Is the pain in your body decreasing? Or till increasing? And that is the question of a doctor. Right? And Anathapindika said, dear Venerables, it doesn't seem that the pain in my body is decreasing, it is increasing all the time. I suffer very much. I feel very painful. And responding to that, Sariputra said, in that case, let us meditate on the Three Jewels, the mindfulness of the Three Jewels. And this kind of meditation that has the object Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. And they offered a guided meditation exercise. The two monks were supporting the dying person to practice recollection on the Buddha, recollection on the Dharma and recollection on the Sangha. And he can learn from their experiences. Because Sariputra was a very intelligent monk. He knew that Anathapindika I had taken a lot, a great deal of pleasure serving the Buddha and the Sangha. He was a businessman. He had a very lovely heart. He helped so many poor, destituted people in the city of Shravasti. And that is why they love him so much, and they gave him that beautiful name Anathapindika. The one who care for the helpless people. His real name is Sudatta And. He offered the Buddha. He had offered the Buddha a beautiful park, to be used as a practice center, where people come listen to Dharma talks, and practice recitation of the Mindfulness Trainings and Dharma sharing. And he encouraged his children to come with him to practice. And every time he thinks of the Buddha, the Sangha. Every time he does something, he did something to support the Buddha and the Sangha, he got a lot of happiness serving the Buddha and the Sangha, learning the Dhamar brought him a lot of happiness. So there are many seeds of happiness, planted already in his consciousness. And insight of Sariputra is if we focus attention on the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. And water the seed of happiness already in him, feeling of joy and happiness will be water and manifest and they will create a balance between the joy and the pain, and the man will suffer less. I think all psychotherapists have to learn from our big Dharma brother. Sariputra. And after 5, 8 minutes of practice, Recollecting. Recollection of the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, Anathapindika was able to smile. So sitting close to the dead bed of someone, you have to recognize the seeds of happiness in him or her. You have to inquire and you will say something to water the seed of happiness in him or her. And that water the seed of happiness and create a feeling of joy and happiness that will reestablish the balance. And the man, the woman will suffer less. And then. And. And then. He, Sariputra, continue with the meditation on the six sense organs. which are the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind. six sense objects like the form, sound, smell, touch and so on. And the six consciousnesses, And to help, to help Anathapindika to see that these things are formations. They have come from nowhere. When conditions are sufficient they manifest like that, they have come from nowhere and they will go nowhere. They will go nowhere. No coming, no going. That is the insight that you get when you practice like that. They focus. They try to focus attention on the fact that there are four elements in our body. Water, air, heat and soil. Inside and outside. And to help the dying person see that a human being is made of these elements. And when conditions are sufficient, they manifest. And when conditions are no longer sufficient, they stop that manifestation and manifest otherwise. And there is no birth and no death, no going and no coming. And at the end of, toward the end of the meditation, they saw Anathapindika cried. And Ananda did not understand the meaning of this tear. He was very concerned. He said : Dear friend, Why do you cry? You didn't. You did not succeed in the meditation, in the guided meditation? No, Venerable Ananda. I did it very well. I succeed fully in my guided meditation. Are you regreting something? You still regret something? No, Venerable Ananda, I don't regret anything. And so why do you cry then? And Anathapindika said to Ananda. Venerable Ananda, I cried because I am so moved. I have served the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha for more than 30 years, but I have never received such a wonderful teaching and practice, that can liberate me like today. The teaching of no birth and no death, I'm free now. I'm not afraid of dying. I know the nature of no coming, no going. I can see my continuation. Ananda said. Dear friend, you don't know but that teaching, we, monastics, receive almost every day. Anathapindika said: Dear Venerable Ananda, of course there are lay people who are so busy who have no time to receive this kind of teaching and practice, but they are those of us who are not too busy. And we are ready to receive that wonderful teaching and put it into practice. So please go back to the Buddha, our teacher, and tell him that there are laypeople, who can receive and put into practice this kind of deep teaching. And then he spoke for a sake, in the name of the lay community. And Ananda said, Don't worry, my friend, after this, I will go back right away to the Lord and tell him about your request. And after that, Anathapindika die peacefully with a smile on his lips. So the Sutra, the teaching, given to the dying person is available in the Plum Village chanting book. We had to study. We had to practice. And we can be very helpful in making the people who die suffer less, who are dying slowly, suffer less. But even if we do not have cancer, or cancer has been healed, we have to practice. He had to continue to practice. Because you don't practice, it can come back and it can grind you quickly. So it's very important that you keep the practice alive, and you're always have the Sangha behind you to to support you in practice. There's a friend in Montreal, Canada. His doctor gave him only three months to live, but after he met the Sangha and attended one retreat, he took in the practice into his heart and practices. And he lived for more than ten years. But because after that, his wife needs something, have some kind of relationship that make him suffer and he could not preserve, continue this practice. And that is why the situation deteriorated very quickly and he died. I think we need to be in touch with the Sangha always. And when something like that happened, we had to to renew our practice, to lean on the Sangha, otherwise, We will suffer like that. That. That friend in Canada. And this teaching is not only for. Psychotherapist. This teaching is all of us, monastics and lay practitioners alike.
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