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Lions Roar : November 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2009 28 times, i stayed for hours as he alternated between rambling and lucid thoughts. His aids-related dementia worsened after three weeks. “Carl, i’m so glad you came,” ned said to me one day, his eyes unfocused. i had no idea who Carl was. “it’s me, ned. it’s stan. “i thought you wouldn’t come back.” “i told you i would.” “i know it’s been hard on you,” he said, barely above a whisper. “no, i enjoy coming to visit you.” “you were right telling me to leave.” “ned, it’s me, stan.” “i shouldn’t have asked you to take me in. i didn’t have the right to ask anything of you. a father shouldn’t do that to his son.” i didn’t know what to say. Continuing to insist i wasn’t Carl wouldn’t make any sense to him. He wouldn’t believe me. it ap- peared that he needed his son next to him. i asked myself if i should become part of his delusion—if ethically i had the right to do that. i was concerned, in the unlikelihood that his son or wife should visit, how they’d react to someone impersonating Carl. or what if friends came and ned told them about a visit from a son he hadn’t spoken to in years? there wasn’t time to get anyone’s advice. “it was all right what you did, dad,” i said. “no, it wasn’t. i hadn’t seen you or your mom in fifteen years and there i was, asking you for a place to stay. asking you to care for me. you were right telling me to get out of your life.” as i struggled to find my next words, his eyes seemed to focus and he said, “i forgive you.” then, just as quickly as the delusion began, he drifted to sleep. i didn’t know the effect of my decision until the day of his death. when i entered his room, a woman was sitting by his side. i could tell by ned’s breathing and fixed gaze that he was in a coma and actively dying. she introduced herself as a friend and said ned had been lucid for a few minutes earlier in the morning and that he’d told her Carl had visited him. “ then,” she said, “He smiled and peacefully lost consciousness.” Asking for Forgiveness some patients feel they can’t be forgiven. Jim, whose family believed he was responsible for his daughter’s death, had difficulty with this. one night, after an hour of flailing and incoherent utterances, he said, “i know there are things i did that can’t be forgiven and i know some people are looking forward to dancing on my grave.” when i asked if there was anything i could do, he pleadingly said, “shoot me.” until the moment of his death, he rarely experienced any peace. but for other patients, self-forgiveness is possible. Jean had abandoned her children and husband when her daughters were teenagers. now, twenty years later, she was dying Lama Y eshe W isdom a rchive po box 356, Weston, ma 02493 • info@LamaYeshe.com • WWW.LamaYeshe.com Our latest titles. . . The Heart of the Path Seeing the Guru as Buddha by Lama Zopa Rinpoche $20 Freedom Through Understanding The Buddhist Path to Happiness and Liberation by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche Free* Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive contains recordings and transcripts of Lama Thubten Yeshe’s and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings dating back to the early 1970s—and we’re still growing! Our Web site offers thousands of pages of teachings by some of the greatest lamas of our time. Dozens of audio recordings, hundreds of photos, and our ever-popular books are also freely accessible at lamayeshe.com. Please see our Web site or contact us for more information and free books* *Plus shipping charges of $1 per book ($5 minimum)