The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

184 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGBeing aware of your own fears about dying will help youimmeasurably to be aware of the fears of the dying person.Just imagine deeply what those might be: fear of increasing,uncontrolled pain, fear of suffering, fear of indignity, fear ofdependence, fear that the lives we have led have been meaningless,fear of separation from all we love, fear of losing control,fear of losing respect; perhaps our greatest fear of all isfear of fear itself, which grows more and more powerful themore we evade it.Usually when you feel fear, you feel isolated and alone, andwithout company. But when somebody keeps company withyou and talks of his or her own fears, then you realize fear isuniversal and the edge, the personal pain, is taken off it. Yourfears are brought back to the human and universal context.Then you are able to understand, be more compassionate, anddeal with your own fears in a much more positive and inspiringway.As you grow to confront and accept your own fears, youwill become increasingly sensitive to those of the personbefore you, and you will find you develop the intelligence andinsight to help that person to bring his or her fears out intothe open, deal with them, and begin skillfully to dispel them.For facing your fears, you will find, will not only make youmore compassionate and braver and clearer; it will also makeyou more skillful, and that skillfulness will open to you allkinds of ways of enabling the dying to understand and facethemselves.One of the fears that we can most easily dispel is the anxietywe all have about unmitigated pain in the process ofdying. I would like to think that everyone in the world couldknow that this is now unnecessary. Physical suffering shouldbe kept to a minimum; there is enough suffering in death anyway.A study at St. Christopher's Hospice in London, which Iknow well and where my students have died, has shown thatgiven the right care, 98 percent of patients can have a peacefuldeath. The hospice movement has developed a variety ofways of managing pain by using various combinations ofdrugs, and not simply narcotics. The Buddhist masters speakof the need to die consciously with as lucid, unblurred, andserene a mental mastery as possible. Keeping pain under controlwithout clouding the dying person's consciousness is thefirst prerequisite for this, and now it can be done: Everyoneshould be entitled to that simple help at this most demandingmoment of passage.

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