News


Welcome to our News

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


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


Retreat: Spiritual Care of the Dying – 22-27 Aug 2019

In late August we have a rare opportunity.

An experienced Australian Buddhist nun, Venerable Chodron, will come to Western Australia to lead a six-day teaching retreat on preparing for your own death and preparing for helping others who are dying.

Venerable Chodron has specialized in spiritual palliative care at Karuna Hospice in Brisbane for many years.

This residential retreat will be held at Fairbridge in Pinjarra just a short drive south of Perth. The retreat is being organized by the Hospice of Mother Tara, a sister group to Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, based in Bunbury.

Life is short and it may be for some of us that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience in-depth teachings in a peaceful atmosphere (such as at Fairbridge).

Such a meaningful way to spend six days.

View the official poster for this event (PDF)

Please email Hospice of Mother Tara at welcome@hmt.org.au to get your Application Form.


Exciting Times for The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Inc.

Exciting Times for The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Inc.

Dear Friend of The Pure Land,

I hope that, in amongst the busy-ness of this time of year, that you find this news item!

My sincere thanks to you for your ongoing support. It means a lot to us to know that you are interested in this project to create a peaceful and virtuous place where one can focus on the spiritual and emotional aspects during the last weeks of life.

As you will see from the report below, we have had a very good year and achieved some important milestones.

There are of course more hurdles to jump and at the bottom of the report are listed some areas where we need specific help.

Please keep an eye out for announcements on the training courses we plan to run in 2019, in preparation for the opening of the facility in 2020.

Kind Regards,

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

Report on 2018:

March

The Pure Land became an independent Study Group of the international organization, FPMT, which has 160 Centres, Study Groups and Projects around the world. The Pure Land is now a separate entity from its parent, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre. We are grateful for Hayagriva’s support in this process.

April

Anita and Len, representing The Pure Land, met with the Spiritual Director of the FPMT, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, in Bendigo. Rinpoche’s positive response gave us great encouragement. We felt blessed!

May-June

A private home was kindly offered as a possible site for the three-year Pilot Trial. It proved to be highly suitable. However, its availability from 2020 (when we plan to start operating) can not be assured at this stage. We may need to search for an alternative.

July

The Harp Concert, with harpist Shamarra de Tissera, was a huge success. Awareness of The Pure Land was extended to new people and places. We raised $3700. Also in July, the draft Constitution was adopted at a Special General Meeting of The Pure Land.

August

On 16 August, The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha Inc. was approved as an Incorporated Association in the State of WA. The Constitution was accepted without change. The Pure Land is now an independent legal entity.

September-October

The Pure Land received an Australian Business Number and a Tax File Number and opened a new bank account with Bendigo Bank.

November

From a presentation at the Dhammaloka Centre during the Rains Retreat, The Pure Land gained new ‘Friends of the Pure Land’ and a new Member. A video of the event was posted on the BSWA website. Also in November, plans to run basic training courses in 2019 for Pure Land volunteers were adopted.

Areas Where The Pure Land Needs Help

  1. Brand and logo
  2. Design and use of social media and website
  3. Fund raising
  4. Public relations and marketing in general

Also, The Pure Land Committee is seeking another committee member (currently we have six members)


Christmas Gifts for Those with Dementia

Christmas Gifts for Those with Dementia [1]

Recently, Alzheimer’s WA published a wonderful article about selecting appropriate Christmas gifts for someone with dementia. It seems to me that these gifts would also be suitable for someone who is dying, perhaps mostly sleeping, finding it difficult to concentrate and not able to communicate well anymore. See what you think.

There is much discussion in the community – and in my family – about the commercialisation of Christmas. Some worry that Christmas draws you into its vortex and you end up spending far more that you planned. Others worry that the oversupply of gifts simply contributes to unsustainability and landfill.

These are not easy considerations, as they are usually weighed against the fact that gift giving is one of the great Christmas traditions, one of the key ways we celebrate those we love at this festive time. It is at this time we are reminded of the old proverb that it is better to give than to receive.

Christmas can also be a time where people feel disconnected, lonely and isolated. What gift is of value to these individuals?

I’d like to throw out my usual Christmas challenge to you, and ask you to consider the gifts you can give that are entirely sustainable and bank account friendly. While these gifts have value and meaning for everyone, they have special meaning for those living with dementia.

Read more on Christmas Gifts for Those with Dementia

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren of The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Inc., Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, Dec 2018. Selected from Alzheimer’s WA e-News of December 2018.


Practical and Spiritual Actions on Visits to the Dying

Practical and Spiritual Actions on Visits to the Dying [1]

Introduction

Visiting a person who is very sick or dying can be very beneficial and a wonderful thing to do. But before the visit, it is not unusual to feel a little apprehensive or unsure of yourself. That’s why spending a few quiet minutes deliberately preparing yourself is so important. If that is not possible and the only time you have is driving there, then in the car try to say an appropriate prayer or recite a relevant mantra, such as the mantra of the Medicine Buddha (Tayata Om Bhekandze Bhekandze Maha Bhekandze Bhekandze Soha) or Shakyamuni Buddha (Tayata Om Mune Mune Maha Muniye Soha).

This article is in four sections: preparing for the visit, building trust, helpful practical and spiritual actions, and what to do close to the time of death.

Read more on Practical and Spiritual Actions on Visits to the Dying

[1] Compiled by Wheel of Life Palliative Care Support Group in 2013: Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington WA 6151. Edited by Len Warren in November 2018, for The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha


Medical Aspects of Pain Control

Medical Aspects of Pain Control [1]

What is Pain?

Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.

The sensation of pain is a useful warning signal that actual or potential damage is occurring or will occur to the body’s tissues. The frequency and intensity of pain varies depending on which particular disease the patient has, how advanced the disease is and what other health problems they are experiencing.

The pain experience is unique to an individual.

It can be magnified by psychosocial stressors, and modified through psychological and emotional support. It is what the person describes and not what others think it ought to be.

In the mid-1960s, Cicely Saunders recognized that there was much more to pain than the medical/physical aspects. She developed the concept of ‘total pain’ – encompassing physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual aspects.

Signs of pain

  • Facial signs: furrowed brow, grimace, eyes closed tight, clenched teeth, taut lips.
  • Body posture signs: very still, stiff, can only get comfortable in one position.
  • Tense, unhappy when they move, or you move them.
  • Appear irritable and withdrawn rather than content.
  • No appetite or excessive appetite.

Helping relieve pain

Find out what helps or makes it worse – movement, massage, support on a pillow, distraction (music, company, television/radio). Find their most comfortable position.

Medicines given to relieve pain increase in strength in the order:

  1. Paracetamol (Non-Opioid)
  2. Panadeine (Mild opioid)
  3. Morphine (Strong Opioid)

Read more on Medical Aspects of Pain Control

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren of Pure Land of the Indestructable Buddha, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, November 2018. Selected extracts from talks given by Teresa Prior (2006) and Suzie Vojkovic (2013).


Twenty Non-Medical Ways to Cope With Pain

Twenty Non-Medical Ways to Cope With Pain [1]

There is a difference between physical pain, which is a physiological process, and suffering, which is our mental and emotional response to the pain. In general, in addition to physical pain, there is mental pain, from a mind agitated and disturbed by negative thoughts.

Between 2008 and 2012 members of the Wheel of Life Palliative Care Support Group at Hayagriva Buddhist Centre collected from various sources twenty non-medical ways that people had found useful in trying to cope with their pain.

Here are three of those methods:

  • Realize that there may be others who are experiencing similar or even greater pain than you. Generate the wish that they may be freed from their pain.
  • Realize that reacting to your pain with anger, frustration or despair will not help ease the pain.
  • Given that your pain is not over yet, decide that you will tolerate and accept it. Then you will no longer be its victim.

Read more on Twenty Non-Medical Ways to Help You Cope With Pain and Suffering

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren for The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, November 2018. Content assembled by Wheel of Life, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151, Western Australia, 2008-1012.


Visiting Those Dying and in Pain

Visiting Those Dying and in Pain [1]

Before meeting a friend who is experiencing physical or emotional pain, and/or facing the end of their life, sit quietly for a few minutes. Become aware of any thoughts or fears that might impede your receptivity, and connect again with your inherent openness and love by reflecting on your friend’s suffering.

As you settle quietly in meditation and watch your thoughts, you might find that you have fear about the other person’s anguish or concern about your ability to make him feel better. Perhaps you’re already trying to plan what you will say, to feel some control in the uncertain situation ahead. Acknowledge these thoughts and fears, and then allow them to dissolve. You might imagine setting your fears, plans and thoughts in a box next to you and leaving them behind, before going into your friend’s room.

Reflect on your friend’s situation, and let his suffering touch your heart, awakening your compassion and love. No matter how painful the circumstances or how disturbing the physical appearance that you will encounter, remember that your friend has, at the core of his being, the innermost essence of wisdom and compassion. Your role, then, is not to rescue him or give him your solutions, but to help him recall and turn toward his own inner resources.

Read more on What To Do When You Visit Someone Who is Dying and in Pain

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren of Pure Land of the Indestructable Buddha, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, November 2018. Selected extracts from Chapter 5, Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying, by Christine Longaker, Broadway Books, New York 2001, p. 54


Responding to the Suffering of Others

Responding to the Suffering of Others [1]

One of the hardest parts of caregiving work – or life, for that matter – is being asked to help someone whose particular form of suffering we have not experienced ourselves, perhaps one that triggers our deepest fears – for example, the sudden death of a child. How can we respond to a young father’s pain when we don’t even want to imagine what he is going through? What can we possibly offer him?

My experience is that each of us has the same needs when we are suffering. We all need to have our suffering and emotional pain validated. We need to feel safe speaking about and expressing our pain, and to trust that others will understand our feelings. We need to feel that whatever our experience and circumstances, we are respected and unconditionally accepted.

We all need basic human qualities – the reliable presence and love of another person, someone willing to be in regular contact with us for the duration of our journey through suffering. We need others to simply listen and bear witness to our pain, offering support, encouragement, and honesty, tempered with compassion.

Read more on Responding to the Suffering of Others

[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren of Pure Land of the Indestructable Buddha, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, November 2018. Selected extracts from Chapter 5, Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying, by Christine Longaker, Broadway Books, New York 2001, p. 54


Good News from the Pure Land

Good News from the Pure Land

We have some good news to share with you. Recently, our application to the State Government to become an incorporated association was quickly approved, without any changes to the constitution. For this our thanks go to our Secretary, whose skills in this area ensured a smooth passage.

Now we can make contracts and accept liabilities without committee members having to take on liabilities personally. It’s like a company but we are a not-for-profit incorporated association. We are all protected now. So we are ready for example to rent premises or accept low or no-interest loans. Of course, there are also certain commitments for us, as an incorporated association, to meet, and the Committee will be assessing these in coming months.

Thanks to the kindness of the Buddhist Society of WA, we were invited to make a Friday night ‘Rains Retreat’ presentation at their Dhammaloka Centre. We gave a talk/meditation on Healing a Relationship by Completing Unfinished Business (view the video of this talk/meditation) and talked about the concept of and recent progress with the Pure Land project. As a result, we welcomed eight new Friends of the Pure Land.

And when you have time please check out some of the articles relevant to preparing for your own death and how to help others who are dying, on our website, for example, how to “Create a Conducive Environment for a Peaceful Death“.