Not only did she come to accept death; but by following

the practice with complete dedication, she was healed. I have

heard of many other cases of people who were diagnosed as

terminally ill and given only a few months to live. When they

went into solitude, followed a spiritual practice, and truly

faced themselves and the fact of death, they were healed.

What is this telling us? That when we accept death, transform

our attitude toward life, and discover the fundamental connection

between life and death, a dramatic possibility for healing

can occur.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that illnesses like cancer can be a

warning, to remind us that we have been neglecting deep

aspects of our being, such as our spiritual needs. 4 If we take

this warning seriously and change fundamentally the direction

of our lives, there is a very real hope for healing not only our

body, but our whole being.


To reflect deeply on impermanence, just as Krisha Gotami

did, is to be led to understand in the core of your heart the

truth that is expressed so strongly in this verse of a poem by a

contemporary master, Nyoshul Khenpo:

The nature of everything is illusory and ephemeral,

Those with dualisic perception regard suffering as happiness,

Like they who lick the honey from a razor's edge.

How pitiful they who cling strongly to concrete reality:

Turn your attention within, my heart friends. 5

Yet how hard it can be to turn our attention within! How

easily we allow our old habits and set patterns to dominate

us! Even though, as Nyoshul Khenpo's poem tells us, they

bring us suffering, we accept them with almost fatalistic resignation,

for we are so used to giving in to them. We may idealize

freedom, but when it comes to our habits, we are completely


Still, reflection can slowly bring us wisdom. We can come

to see we are falling again and again into fixed repetitive patterns,

and begin to long to get out of them. We may, of

course, fall back into them, again and again, but slowly we

can emerge from them and change. The following poem

speaks to us all. It's called "Autobiography in Five Chapters." 6

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