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

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

QUESTIONS ABOUT DEATH 379make rules about issues such as these. We can only act with whateverwisdom we have, according to each situation. And, as always, everythingdepends on our motivation and on the compassion behind it.Is there any point in keeping people alive artificially when theyotherwise would die? The Dalai Lama has indicated one essential factor—thestate of mind of the dying person: "From the Buddhist pointof view if a dying person has any chance of having positive, virtuousthoughts, it is important—and there is a purpose—for them to livefor even just a few minutes longer." He highlights the stress on thefamily in such a situation: "If there is no such chance for positivethoughts, and in addition a lot of money is being spent by relativessimply in order to keep someone alive, then there seems to be nopoint. But each case must be dealt with individually; it is very difficultto generalize." 1Life-support measures or resuscitation can be a cause of disturbance,annoyance, and distraction at the critical moment of death.We have seen from both the Buddhist teachings and the evidence ofthe near-death experience that even when people are in a coma theycan have total awareness of everything that is going on around them.What happens just before death, at death, and until the final separationof body and consciousness are moments of immense importancefor anyone, and especially for a spiritual practitioner seeking to practiceor rest in the nature of the mind.In general there is a danger that life-sustaining treatment thatmerely prolongs the dying process may only kindle unnecessarygrasping, anger, and frustration in a dying person, especially if thiswas not his or her original wish. Relatives who are faced with difficultdecisions, and overwhelmed with the responsibility of lettingtheir loved one die, should reflect that if there is no real hope ofrecovery, the quality of the final days or hours of their loved one'slife may be more important than simply keeping the person alive.Besides, as we never really know whether the consciousness is still inthe body, we may even be condemning them to imprisonment in auseless body.Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said:To use life-support mechanisms when a person has no chance of recoveryis pointless, It is far better to let them die naturally in a peaceful atmosphereand perform positive actions on their behalf. When the life-supportmachinery is in place, but there is no hope, it is not a crime to stop it,since there is no way in which the person can survive, and you are onlyholding onto their life artificially,Attempts at resuscitation can also sometimes be needless and anunnecessary disturbance to a dying person. One doctor writes:The hospital erupts into a spasm of frenzied activity. Dozens of peoplerush to the bedside in a last-ditch effort to resuscitate the patient. The

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