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Lions Roar : July 2018
A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER shares the news of a life-threatening diag- nosis or we see them stumble on a curb or over their words, and in that moment we realize that we’re about to become a companion to someone facing death. Perhaps it’s a conscious choice. Maybe we feel we have no choice. It’s important in the beginning to remember that we already know how to care. We’ve extended a helping hand hun- dreds of times in a thousand meaningful FRANK OSTASESKI is a cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project and author of The Five In- vitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Fully Living. ©VICTORTORRES/STOCKSYUNITED and loving ways. Caring is a natural expression of our humanity. We can trust our good hearts to be reliable guides. Offering care is like meditation, there’s no one right way, but some basic guide- lines and practice can help. Embrace Impermanence Recognition of the transience of life is a central tenet of Buddhism. Imperma- nence is an essential truth woven into the very fabric of existence. It’s inescapable and perfectly natural. How we meet that truth makes a world of difference. One of the most exquisite of Japanese terms, mono no aware, expresses an aes- thetic sensibility that’s challenging to translate. It speaks to a gentle sadness—to being deeply moved by the transient, finite nature of things. It doesn’t deny loss or bypass grief but reminds us that the beauty of things and our appreciation of those dear to us is heightened by our awareness of their ephemeral nature. Isn’t it the fragility and brevity of the cherry blossom, or morning light, or cresting wave that captivates us and invites us into wonder and gratitude? Enter Mindfully In the Zen tradition, we have the practice of dokusan, a face-to-face meeting with the teacher. The student is instructed to wait outside the teacher’s door HEART & MIND A Friend Until the End According to FRANK OSTASESKI, offering care to someone who’s dying is like meditation: there’s no one right way, but practice helps, and so do basic guidelines. LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 17 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE