My Time with Sickness, Death and the Dharma

My Time with Sickness, Death and the Dharma [1]

Methods Used by Ros to Cope with Pain and Suffering

Recently, a Dharma friend, Ros, had a long bout of sickness and pain and a terminal diagnosis seemed likely. Ros has written down the story of her journey and has kindly agreed to share it with us. There are some powerful learnings from her experiences. Below are some some of the ways in which she coped.

  1. Discuss ‘bad news’, such as a bad diagnosis, with loved ones, instead of covering it up in order to protect them.
  2. Consult your spiritual teacher and follow their advice. Here’s two good bits of advice: when karma ripens, you can’t stop it, but you can reduce its intensity and after effects, and, dedicate any merit to your doctors that they may have great clarity and insight in their work.
  3. Intense pain can have a paralysing effect. If it continues, it’s easy to start spiralling down into depression. When this happens, try to keep up your spiritual practices, or restart them.
  4. Recall that cancer, like all phenomena, is empty of inherent existence. It does not exist permanently, independently from its own side. It is changing moment by moment. It arose from many causes and conditions that have come together at this time.
  5. Dedicate your pain and anxiety so that others with similar problems are purified and happy again.
  6. If death is imminent, go back to some simple spiritual practice that you really enjoy.
  7. Recognize and give thanks for the kindness of your friends and doctors.

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[1] The contents of this page were extracted and summarized by Len Warren (2019) from Ros’s story entitled: My Time with Sickness, Death, and the Dharma.