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)


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.


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.