Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying
Noble Living, Noble Caring and Noble Dying describes the outlook we can bring to our human experience. This resource center is the result of many conversations with Phakchok Rinpoche, Tulku Migmar, and experts in the caring profession. We invite you to explore how our Buddhist practice informs our living, caring, and dying so that they are noble: filled with dignity and grace.
In this introduction, Samye Institute’s Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying team talk about how we can learn to live with no regrets.
Noble Living: Study and Reflections
The Buddhist tradition offers innumerable resources that encourage us to live a noble life. All the masters and adepts advocate an active, lifelong learning process. We open our hearts and minds to the realities of suffering and death. When we stay present with our vulnerabilities instead of ignoring them or pushing them away, we can face challenges with courage and curiosity. And we can be a powerful support for our loved ones and for all those who suffer.
Phakchok Rinpoche answers questions about facing death and care-giving.
Tulku Migmar Tsering speaks with Tsunma Jamyang Donma and Andrea Sherman about how we can work to live a meaningful life.
We can use the term bardo also metaphorically to describe times when our usual way of life becomes suspended, as, for example, during a period of illness or during a meditation retreat.
We need to learn how to live with dignity. Live without regret, live with compassion, (just a little bit of compassion), live with contentment… live with no regrets. Then you are going to find some degree of dignity, I think that is the only way to die. No regret. Whether you are spiritual or not spiritual it is important to have no regrets.
When we train in loving-kindness, compassion, and equanimity, we can truly care for ourselves and others. Our noble caring manifests with no agenda, and with pure love for all sentient beings. If we embrace this practice, we can avoid burnout, and instead face challenges with courage and dignity. We can become a rock for others who need support.
Phakchok Rinpoche shares his advice on how to cultivate bodhicitta in our daily lives.
Listen to Phakchok Rinpoche discuss how we can best offer care-giving to the dying.
Andrea Sherman shows how we can utilize the six paramitas to touch the human spirit through virtual technology.
In this article, Tsunma Jamyang Donma shows how commitment to the paramita (perfection) of patience can be an antidot to anger and frustration when we care for those with dementia.
Noble Caring at the Bedside
Phakchok Rinpoche often reminds us to have no expectations. Nowhere is this advice more important than when we engage in intimate caring. To care nobly, we approach each situation with a willingness to witness and to be present with whatever arises.
Noble Caring for Children
Beings of all ages experience suffering. And children may approach serious illnesses with open curiosity. We can care for children most effectively when we listen deeply and honor their experiences. Then we may offer our young friends the opportunity to communicate their own concerns or wishes.
Tsunma Jamyang Donma shows how body scan and favourite place practices can help very sick children re-frame their physical experience.
Self-care is crucial on the path. Before we help others, we take time to set our intentions and to check our own physical and mental health. Simple practices, such as pausing before we enter client rooms, bring us back to the present moment. We move purposefully, and with calm awareness. We take time to rest and eat nutritious meals. We practice supplication and guru yoga, reminding ourselves of our pure basic nature.
Andrea Sherman shares some simple self-care practices that caregivers can use to avoid stress, fatigue or burnout.
Noble Caring Through Pain
Most of us will experience physical or mental pain. And almost all of us will care for others who suffer. We can learn how to approach pain with curiosity and kindness. When we choose to investigate pain rather than fight against it, we may discover a new relationship!
Noble Dying: The Final Steps
We can help our friends, families, and caregivers by planning ahead. Conversations about our final wishes may seem awkward or pessimistic. But death is certain; we know that from our own experience. So we can plan our final steps with love, thinking to ease the burden of those we leave behind. If we adopt the practice of noble living, we can see this process as a meaningful gift for others.
Noble Dying: Active Dying
The dying process unfolds as a series of dissolution of the physical elements of the body. Although each death is unique, we can explore the journey ahead and thus approach our own deaths fearlessly and with awareness. If we know what to expect, we can prepare ourselves and welcome death without regret, confident in our own pure nature and in our practice. We can also take the opportunity to direct our prayers and practice as the consecutive stages occur.
Phakchok Rinpoche discusses the benefits of prayer and phowa with Samye Institute’s Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dyinf team.
In this post, Andrea Sherman introduces the Five Invitations, powerful teachings on death that can help guide us through the dying process.
Grief arises when we encounter suffering. But grief does not need to incapacitate us or block our ability to love or care. Here we share reflections on how to skillfully work with grief.
Phakchok Rinpoche discusses how we can best help those who are going through the grieving process.
In this resource section, we share a selection of audio meditations. Some of these can be practiced by both the caregiver and the care recipient, as well as with their friends and family. Others are particularly helpful for the caregiver as regular practices to develop compassion and equanimity in the face of suffering. We encourage you to browse the library and to download the audios for your convenience.
Our contributors share their stories of navigating the caring and dying process with dignity and grace. Their very personal stories can touch us, and, we hope, inspire us on our journey. If you would have a story to share or would like to contribute, please contact us!
Continue the Conversation
We hope that you have found the materials presented in our program helpful. As we all face the reality of sickness and death, we can learn from each other along the way. We encourage you to join our Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying forum. Feel free to post your questions or your personal tips. We look forward to sharing together in this beautiful journey!
Our translation team at Lhasey Lotsawa offers translations of prayers and practices relevant to the dying process.