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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Death and Dying - Multifaith Resource Series no.1

End-of-life, or dying moments are difficult to document, and impossible to be totally visualized by all. Nevertheless, there are notes in archives and libraries about experiences of the great beings, and in this access to what is in libraries we are quite lucky.
Some attempts are made in the following book to capture such experiences. These are worth reading by anyone who is waiting to experience such a transit.
Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die, By Sushila Blackman, Shambhala Publications, 2006.
About the book: This collection of 108 stories recounts the ways in which Hindu, Tibetan and Zen Buddhist masters, both ancient and modern, have confronted their own deaths. It is intended to show people how to leave the world gracefully and place death in its proper perspective.

While the author has left the book behind for us, her spouse has the following comment:
As Blackman notes, the Judaeo-Christian perspective of death is not represented here, but this fills a demand for inspirational books about death and Eastern spirituality.

Some Reviews of this book:
Publishers Weekly
Often, the stories of great people's deaths focus on the bizarre details. Blackman's book does not focus on such details, but it focuses on death as a great teaching. Death in the Buddhist and Hindu spiritual traditions, according to the author, is not confined to a particular moment but is a process that may take days even after the usual medical indications of death have appeared. The experience of death is part of the discipline that these "great beings," or spiritual teachers, have practiced, and death is an opportunity for the greatest meditation and fulfillment.

Library Journal
Blackman narrates the death stories of over 100 Tibetan, Hindu, and Zen masters, ancient and modern. The striking element in these accounts is a sense of being fully prepared to meet death. Blackman grappled with lung cancer and came to peace with her own fears about death as she compiled this book, completed only a few months before she died.

More reviews, excerpts at the publishers' Web site and the Barnesandnoble bookstore

  • An interesting Web resources: Growth House: Guide To Death, Dying, Grief, Bereavement, and End Of Life Resources
  • Santa Cruz County End-of-Life Coalition

  • More on Death & Dying, and the related area in multifaith perspectives is available with this blogger.
    Contact me at mt2222 at yahoo dot com.

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