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Welcome to The Pure Land News. This page contains a list of news in reverse chronological order (most recent first)


How attachment arises from ignorance

How attachment arises from ignorance [1]

For most of us, attachment will be a major source of suffering at the time of death: attachment to this life, to our loved ones, to our possessions and most of all to our body. Therefore it’s wise to investigate our attachments now, determine to reduce them, and find out how to do this. Understanding how attachment actually arises will be of great help in enabling us to eradicate it from the source. Some years ago, Geshe Jampa Tegchok gave some inspired teachings on this topic. They are quite deep and require some prior knowledge.

Read more on How attachment arises from ignorance

[1] Extracts from Transforming the Heart: The Buddhist Way to Joy and Courage, by Geshe Jampa Tegchok, Snow Lion: Ithaca, page 228, selected by Len Warren


Compassion – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Compassion, a marvel of human nature [1]

Like all other mammals, we humans are born from our mothers, and for some time after birth we are utterly dependent on our mothers or other caring adults. For nine months we are nurtured in our mother’s womb, and at the moment of birth we are completely helpless. We can neither sit nor crawl, let alone stand or walk, and without the care and attention of others we cannot survive. In this state of absolute vulnerability, our first action is to suck at our mother’s breast. And with her milk, we are nurtured and given strength. In fact the period of dependency for young humans is particularly long. This goes for all of us, including even the worst criminals. Without another’s loving care, none of us would have lived more than a few days. As a result of this intense need for others in our early development, a disposition towards affection is a part of our biology.

[…]

There is now increasing scientific evidence that love, kindness, and trust have not only psychological benefits but also observable benefits to physical health. One recent study even shows that deliberate cultivation of love and compassion can even affect our DNA. It has also been shown that negative emotions such as anxiety, anger and resentment undermine our ability to combat illness and infection. Persistent negative emotions actually eat away at our immune system. People with a high level of self-focus are likely to be more prone to the stress and anxiety that accompany self-centredness. And stress and anxiety are well known to be bad for the heart.

Read more on Compassion – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

[1] Extracts from Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Rider 2012, page 41, with some headings added for clarity, by Len Warren, 10 January 2017 and 17 April 2020.


Attachment at the Time of Death

Attachment at the Time of Death

At the time of death the great teachers say that many of us will be afraid of losing what we know and love, and afraid of the unknown ahead of us. Especially, we don’t want to let go of this body or this life. Such attachment to our body and our life can be the source of much unhappiness and distress. Therefore, while we can, we should understand and confront our attachment, so that we are prepared when death comes.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche puts it this way: The mind that clings gets stuck to the object of attachment. When you receive praise: ‘You are so intelligent’, ‘You speak so well’, ‘You understand Dharma so well’, your mind gets stuck to the praise and is no longer free. Like a fly that gets stuck in a spider’s web: its wings get completely wrapped up and it is very difficult to separate them from the web. Or like ants in honey. Attachment is the mind stuck to an object.

Lama Zopa quotes the Kadampa geshes whose advice was to cut off attachment to the ‘eight worldly concerns’: winning and losing, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, fame and disgrace. Consider the first of these, wanting to win at business and become wealthy. Having wealth is not the problem. So, what is the problem? The problem is the mind desiring and clinging to wealth – that is the problem. But if there’s no attachment, no worldly concern, having or not having wealth does not become a problem.

Read more on Cutting Off Attachment


The Cycle of Life

The Cycle of Life

These two photos had a huge impact on me. Try them yourself.

Look carefully at both photos and then read the captions. Let the impermanence of life and the nearness of death sink in. Reflect on the loving kindness, the caring, and the interdependence of all human beings.

Photos reproduced from Facing Death, by Sandra L Bertman, Taylor & Francis, 1991, pages 96, 97


How My Karma at Death Will Propel Me Into a New Life

How My Karma at Death Will Propel Me Into a New Life [1]

Venerable Thubten Dondrub, former Resident Teacher at Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, recently explained how it is that when your death comes and you have virtuous thoughts at that moment, you will be reborn into a happy life; but if at the time of death you have a non-virtuous mind, you will be reborn into a place of great suffering.

Geshe Lhundub Sopa, in his book Steps on the Path to Enlightenment, also goes into the role of karma at the time of death in some detail.

When we commit actions of body, speech or mind with a clear and strong intention, strong karmic imprints, good and bad, are planted on our mind. These are called ‘throwing karma’ because if one of them ripens at the point of death they have enough power to throw or propel us into the next life.

That is why it is so important to guide the mind to the side of virtue as one approaches death. For example, as long as the dying person can still hear, his spiritual teacher or a close friend, or a relative, can gently recite the practices or mantras or sayings that the person is familiar with.

This is one way we, as trained volunteers, can help when The Pure Land is up and running. How amazing and wonderful it would be if our guidance enabled the dying person to have a more peaceful death and a happier rebirth!

Read more on How My Karma at Death Will Propel Me Into a New Life

[1] Extracts selected by Len Warren from Steps on the Path to Enlightenment A Commentary on Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chenmo, by Geshe Lhundub Sopa, with David Patt, Volume 2, Wisdom Publications, 2005, page 306
The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha Inc. http://purelandcentre.org , admin@purelandcentre.org


The Pure Land’s Bhutan Lottery

The Pure Land’s Bhutan Lottery

The Pure Land's Bhutan Lottery

Dear Dharma Friend,

My heartfelt thanks to you if you have bought tickets in the Bhutan Lottery. This is a key part of making our dream come true.

If you are intending to buy but haven’t got around to it, then now is the time. Please go to https://purelandcentre.org/lottery and purchase your tickets with a credit or debit card.

And if for whatever reason you’d rather not buy a ticket, that’s fine too.

A key aspect of this fundraising event is ‘spreading the word’, firstly about the Lottery itself and secondly about the concept of The Pure Land project. If you can help in this way, it is very valuable.

Len Warren, Chairperson, The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Incorporated.


Dignified Death?

A Dignified Death?[1]

The ideal death scenario is the death we would orchestrate for ourselves. The characteristics of such a death seem to be timeliness, painlessness, consciousness, and preparedness. Death would come in later years; it would not be premature. We would be in control of our faculties, alert, and able to communicate. The occasion would not occur suddenly but rather eventually, with time for both philosophical and emotional preparation. We would be able to speak last words and receive the responsive farewells.

Jacques Louis David’s classical painting, Death of Socrates, offers a visual interpretation of this ideal death. Socrates is presented just before he drinks the hemlock that will kill him. Although late in years, the philosopher epitomises vigour, stoicism and decisiveness in his stance. His death is the ultimate expression of virtue; the laying down of one’s life for the defence of ideals. The beloved teacher is surrounded by his grieving family, students and jailer. His finger points heavenward, probably indicating his resolve or perhaps the path his soul will take.

In contrast, the unreconciled, painful scene suggested by the contemporary Beckmann painting, Large Death Scene, markedly opposes the peaceful leavetaking of the painting, the Death of Socrates. The last moments of this man’s death are undignified, unromanticized and unbeautiful. There is no sense of composure, control, or communication. Rather, this expressionist work lays bare the indignity that can befall a person whose dying is prolonged. Raw, naked agony is portrayed by the dying man’s postures and by those witnessing his demise.

Read more on A Dignified Death

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren based on extracts from Facing Death: Images, Insights, and Interventions A Handbook for Educators, Healthcare Professionals and Counsellors, Sandra L Bertman, Taylor & Francis, 1991


News Flash! Big Donation!

News Flash! Big Donation!

The Pure Land Inc. has been given a great boost by the donation of a sizeable sum – $116,000.

All of us who are working to get our pilot project off the ground, are thrilled to receive this very generous donation, whose donor wishes to remain anonymous.

We are very much in need of funds to support us through this developmental stage and beyond, into the life of the centre. Our immediate target is to raise $350,000 to cover the costs of running the pilot trial for three years.

Our on-going success depends on the generosity of those who are able to give.

So we extend grateful thanks to our generous donor, and to all those who have given their resources, skills and time.

We encourage all of our friends and associates to support us to the best of their ability, and to that end, our donations link below.

https://purelandcentre.org/donations/

Kind Regards,

Len Warren, Chairperson, The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Incorporated.


Euthanasia

Euthanasia [1]

Euthanasia is another challenging topic. Is it okay to pull the plug?

Motivation

The first issue is our motivation. If we are the one helping to euthanise a sentient being, why are we doing it? Are we doing it to remove their suffering, or to remove our anxiety around witnessing that suffering? Who are we trying to benefit, and why do we think it brings benefit? These kinds of questions help to reveal hidden motivations that can guide us through this complex issue. It’s also imperative to realize that people rarely ask for euthanasia when their needs are met. If someone is feeling loved and valued, and has their physical symptoms managed, they generally won’t ask to be euthanised.

Active euthanasia

There is a difference between active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is actively ending a life, and the tradition is clear on this: Don’t do it. Even though the motivation may be to end suffering, and that does soften the karmic consequences, active euthanasia still has significant karmic repercussions (The Tibetan Book of the Dead, translated by Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa, page 78).

Read more on Euthanasia by Andrew Holocek

[1] Extracts selected by Len Warren of The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Inc., Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia from Preparing to Die by Andrew Holocek, Snow Lion: Boston, 2013 Page 262.

Response to Voluntary Euthanasia
with Sue Lee & Len Warren 4 October 2019

Facing Death – Sandra Bertman

Facing Death by Sandra L Bertman [1]

America in 1991: A ‘Death-Denying Society’

Sandra Bertman sets the scene for her book with a portrait of America in 1991, describing it as a ‘death-denying’ society. I think the situation in Australia now is better in many respects, but in others it seems that we have just become more sophisticated and cunning in distracting ourselves from death until the last moment when it is too late to take advantage of what the Buddhist teachings say are the great opportunities in dying.

“Death Parting Man and Woman” – Fountain Relief by Gustav Vigeland, 1916

Newspapers and television bombard our senses daily with reports of violence, accidents, cancer and the threat of megadeath. For some, death may occur suddenly from a heart attack, an accident or a stroke. Most of us, however, will experience death slowly and in our later years. We are an increasingly ageing population. Many of us will develop chronic illnesses that will eventually prove fatal. Death will be protracted and will involve a growing awareness that we are, indeed, dying.

Yet our society seems insulated from and uncomfortable about the subject of death. The modern age has created a veritable ‘pornography of death’ which extends even to disposition of the body. Aspects of the funeral industry have become exploitative, ostentatious, and sanitised. In hospital and nursing home settings – places where death and dying are daily events – mutual conspiracies of silence and closed communication patterns entered into by dying patients and staff are commonplace. Even children learn to collude in this game by concealing knowledge of their own impending deaths from their parents and medical personnel. Family ties have disintegrated, while the aged and dying have become segregated from their loved ones through consignment to nursing homes and institutional care. America might thus be characterized as a death-denying society.

There is no doubt that increases in medical technology have increased longevity – what gerontologists call ‘prolongevity’. But along with major improvements in the technological aspects of care e.g. marvellous devices for emergency services, ventilators, artificial kidneys, organ transplants, Comes a myriad of ethical and humanistic dilemmas relating not only to where and when we die, but also about the way we die. One of the paradoxes that has resulted from the evolution of medical science in recent decades is that the complexities involved in the treatment of illness and disease often act as a barrier between the caregiver and the sick person. Highly technical diagnostic and therapeutic interventions can become obstacles to effective communication and treatment and accentuate the shift even further away from close personal involvement with the patient.

Read more on Facing Death by Sandra L Bertman

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren based on extracts from Facing Death: Images, Insights, and Interventions A Handbook for Educators, Healthcare Professionals and Counsellors, Sandra L Bertman, Taylor & Francis, 1991