The things that I felt slowly were a very heightened sense of love,

the ability to communicate love, the ability to find joy and pleasures

in the smallest and most insignificant things about me ... I developed

a great compassion for people that were ill and facing death

and I wanted so much to let them know, to somehow make them

aware that the dying process was nothing more than an extension

of one's life. 2

We all know how life-menacing crises such as serious illness

can produce transformations of a similar depth. Freda

Naylor, a doctor who courageously kept a diary as she died of

cancer, wrote:

/ have had experiences which I never would have had, for which I

have to thank the cancer. Humility, coming to terms with my own

mortality, knowledge of my inner strength, which continually surprises

me, and more things about myself which I have discovered

because I have had to stop in my tracks, reassess and proceed. 3.

If we can indeed "reassess and proceed" with this newfound

humility and openness, and a real acceptance of our death, we

will find ourselves much more receptive to spiritual instructions

and spiritual practice. This receptivity could well open to us yet

another marvelous possibility: that of true healing.

I remember a middle-aged American woman who came to

see Dudjom Rinpoche in New York in 1976. She had no particular

interest in Buddhism, but had heard that there was a

great master in town. She was extremely sick, and in her desperation

she was willing to try anything, even to see a Tibetan

master! At that time I was his translator.

She came into the room and sat in front of Dudjom

Rinpoche. She was so moved by her own condition and his

presence that she broke down into tears. She blurted out, "My

doctor has given me only a few months to live. Can you help

me? I am dying."

To her surprise, in a gentle yet compassionate way, Dudjom

Rinpoche began to chuckle. Then he said quietly: "You see,

we are all dying. It's only a matter of time. Some of us just

die sooner than others." With these few words, he helped her

to see the universality of death and that her impending death

was not unique. This eased her anxiety. Then he talked about

dying, and the acceptance of death. And he spoke about the

hope there is in death. At the end he gave her a healing practice,

which she followed enthusiastically.

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