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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 13 Letters to the Editor DeaTh WiTh DigniTy? damien Keown’s review of John west’s The Last Goodnights: Assisting My Parents With Their Suicides (July 2009) raises many helpful questions, but ultimately misses an important point. a death-with-dignity law, such as the one we have here in oregon, does not grant death. when this law is used, which is rather seldom, it has to be established that death is impending—that much larger forces have already chosen death. the choice is not one of death versus no death, but of whether or not to use medical intervention to aid in the manner and exact timing of death. consider a parallel question: would you help your children begin their lives? Birth and death are givens for every human being. we are born and we die. how should we regard medical intervention at the time of birth? it can and does change the precise moment of birth and the ease with which it occurs. similarly, when death is a foregone conclusion, death-with- dignity laws allow limited forms of medical interven- tion at the end of life. it muddles the discussion to call this “suicide,” and it shuts down thoughtful con- sideration before it begins. that said, John west’s book does discuss other forms of ending life that are accurately labeled “suicide.” tom head Beaverton, oregon euthanasia is a question that challenges us to truly apply the teachings to our lives. not killing is so basic to Buddhism that it is one of the easiest topics with which to take a dogmatic position. But there is that other most basic principle, which is compassion. dis- cussing subjects like this is one of the most valuable activities we can engage in to integrate the teachings into our lives. as to whether or not i would help my parents end their lives, my answer is the same as the one i would make for myself. i would let karma take its course. i do not believe that we can ultimately save someone from their suffering. until i am able to actually see the karma of others and truly know the results of my actions, i feel it is not my place to decide when they should die. as the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” posted by ron at shambhalasun.com/sunspace i’ve worked as a nurse in hospitals for six years and i know now that there are things worse than death. it would be different if hospice services were utilized more and if death were not so feared, but in this soci- ety so many people end up in the hospital to die. dy- ing with dignity sounds like a cliché... until you’ve seen the opposite. posted by anne at shambhalasun.com/sunspace inSighT inTo yoga i just read the article on sarah powers in Shambhala Sun (July 2009). it was inspiring. she sounds like an amaz- ing person. i’m just getting more serious about my yoga practice and it was great to read about someone com- bining chinese medicine with the postures. emer halliday toronto, ontario To kill oR noT To kill? thanks for publishing Gabriel cohen’s story “night of the cockroach” (July 2009). i believe some people might think it’s silly to spend time worrying about whether to kill cockroaches and other pests but, as a person on a spiritual path, i feel cohen is right in drawing attention to this moral question. the story is also funny and i love the creepy cockroach photos crawling across the page. alexandra horne houston, texas 2009) raises many helpful questions, but ultimately misses an important point. a death-with-dignity law, such as the one we have here in oregon, does not grant death. when this law is used, which is rather seldom, it has to be established their suffering. until i am able to actually see the karma of others and truly know the results of my actions, i feel it is not my place to decide when they should die. as the old saying goes, “the road to hell is at shambhalasun.com/sunspace