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Lions Roar : November 2013
WHEN I BECAME CHRONICALLY ILL in 2001, I thought it was my fault. I blamed myself for not recovering from what appeared to be an acute viral infection, as if not regaining my health was due to a failure of will. I’d been a practicing Bud- dhist for many years, but in my confusion and fear, I’d forgot- ten a teaching from the Buddha that I’d learned early on: the five remembrances. These are five facts that he said “ought to be often contemplated upon by everyone—whether man or woman, householder or monk”: • I cannot avoid aging. • I cannot avoid illness. • I cannot avoid death. • I cannot avoid being separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me. • The only thing I control is my actions. Illness is a natural consequence of being in a body. And yet, in the chronic-illness community (which numbers over 130 million people in the United States alone), it’s a commonly held convic- tion that illness is the fault of the person who is sick. Indeed, the belief that illness is unnatural—literally, going against nature— is shared by many in the population as a whole. MOUNTAINBYROBERTPOPE,COURTESYOFTHEROBERTPOPEFOUNDATION Reviews When a Friend’s in Need When someone we care about is seriously ill, we often feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to do. TONI BERNHARD says there’s good advice in How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick. HOW TO BE A FRIEND TO A FRIEND WHO’S SICK By Letty Cottin Pogrebin PublicAffairs 2013; 304 pp., $24.99 (cloth) SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 73