Như bông hoa tươi đẹp, có sắc lại thêm hương; cũng vậy, lời khéo nói, có làm, có kết quả.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 52)
Hào phóng đúng nghĩa với tương lai chính là cống hiến tất cả cho hiện tại. (Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.)Albert Camus
Chúng ta có lỗi về những điều tốt mà ta đã không làm. (Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.)Voltaire
Khó thay được làm người, khó thay được sống còn. Khó thay nghe diệu pháp, khó thay Phật ra đời!Kinh Pháp Cú (Kệ số 182)
Hoàn cảnh không quyết định nơi bạn đi đến mà chỉ xác định nơi bạn khởi đầu. (Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.)Nido Qubein
Tôi phản đối bạo lực vì ngay cả khi nó có vẻ như điều tốt đẹp thì đó cũng chỉ là tạm thời, nhưng tội ác nó tạo ra thì tồn tại mãi mãi. (I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.)Mahatma Gandhi
Có những người không nói ra phù hợp với những gì họ nghĩ và không làm theo như những gì họ nói. Vì thế, họ khiến cho người khác phải nói những lời không nên nói và phải làm những điều không nên làm với họ. (There are people who don't say according to what they thought and don't do according to what they say. Beccause of that, they make others have to say what should not be said and do what should not be done to them.)Rộng Mở Tâm Hồn
Hãy nhớ rằng hạnh phúc nhất không phải là những người có được nhiều hơn, mà chính là những người cho đi nhiều hơn. (Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.)H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Thành công không phải điểm cuối cùng, thất bại không phải là kết thúc, chính sự dũng cảm tiếp tục công việc mới là điều quan trọng. (Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.)Winston Churchill
Điều bất hạnh nhất đối với một con người không phải là khi không có trong tay tiền bạc, của cải, mà chính là khi cảm thấy mình không có ai để yêu thương.Tủ sách Rộng Mở Tâm Hồn

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The Art of Dying
»» Graham’s Death

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Nghệ thuật chết - Sự ra đi của Graham

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This account by Graham Gambie’s widow, Anne Doneman, reveals the peace of mind experienced by a meditator who has reaped the benefits of Dhamma. It was excerpted from a longer piece originally published in Realizing Change—Vipassana Meditation in Action, Vipassana Research Institute, July 2003, p. 168.

We returned home to Australia in February and in May conducted a 10-day course. Graham appeared to be in a state of near-total collapse at the beginning of the course. In the meditation hall, he was barely conscious on the dais and when he gave instructions he could not construct a sentence correctly. At night his breathing was barely audible. Our concern grew, and so we telephoned a neurologist in Sydney and made an appointment for the day the course ended, intending to fly to New Zealand on the following day.

Fortunately, by Day 10 Graham was fully alert and apparently totally recovered. After the course we traveled to Sydney and met the neurologist, who initially dismissed the lapse as probable short-term memory loss from which white-collar workers sometimes suffer. However, he ordered a CT brain scan, and while waiting for the results Graham and I enjoyed a special lunch. We returned to the neurologist who, without saying a word, took the films from their folder and placed them on a display panel. He pointed out a tumor that filled what seemed to be 50 percent of the brain’s left hemisphere. On top of the tumor was a very large cyst.

I was numb and uncomprehending. Yes, we would cancel our air tickets to New Zealand. Yes, we could get Graham directly into hospital that afternoon. The numbness turned to tears as I phoned to arrange accommodation with dear friends in Sydney. I wasn’t making sense explaining to them what was happening, so Graham took the telephone and made the arrangements himself. He was calm and collected.

While getting Graham into hospital and making sure he was comfortable, I somehow managed to be outwardly cheerful. But as soon as I left his company I was in tears again. That night, as I meditated, a deep sense of peace arose that was to stay with me throughout Graham’s ordeal. It was not the peace that comes from rationalization or intellectualization; it was just something that “kicked in.”

Within two days Graham was under the scalpel. The surgeons were not able to remove the entire tumor and, consequently, the prognosis was not good. The neurosurgeon told us that, due to the nature of the tumor, an astrocytoma, he had a maximum of five years to live—and by the end, mentally, he would be a vegetable.

Such news was devastating, yet he took it in his stride. I once heard him say to visitors, “How can I be attached to this body and mind when they are constantly changing? There is nothing to hold onto.” Fellow journalists, workmates, police contacts, and those whom he knew through meditation came to visit him. One colleague remarked, “I came expecting to see a body on the bed and to console him. Instead I ended up telling him all about my problems and forgot about his.”

The days passed—and I am grateful to have spent every one of them at his side. He was discharged from hospital but within 10 days was back in again. He was having difficulty with his legs, which had become so tender that he could barely walk.

On the morning of June 27, six weeks after the tumor had been diagnosed, I arrived at the hospital. All I could think of was that I really wanted to be close to him that day—there would be no popping out to run errands. We had a lovely time together, and that night while saying goodbye I felt I couldn’t get close enough to him. I hopped up on the side of the bed and began to put on lipstick. He asked, “Why?” I said I wanted to look nice for him. He then went on to say the sweetest things about what a wonderful wife I was and how he felt. I was happy and he was happy. We said goodbye.

After dinner that night I was enjoying the last sip of a hot chocolate. I took a breath and at that moment experienced a deep sense of absolute peace and tranquility. The phone rang, a junior nurse calling—could I come quickly? Graham was having a heart attack (later found to have been caused by a blood clot). But it was clear that there was really no need to hurry. He was gone.

It was Friday, late. As I traveled to the hospital, neon lights were shining and people were out strolling, window shopping, eating. Feelings of fear and vulnerability arose. Such a casual picture of life could not be trusted. What seemed so real, so permanent, was an illusion. We were all walking on very thin ice, blind to the fact that we could fall through at any moment.

I arrived at the hospital and went upstairs to the room where we had exchanged words only hours before. It was deserted, but I was immediately struck by the vibrancy of the atmosphere. It was entirely clear that no one was there. Though Graham’s body lay on the bed, it looked like a cast-off coat that could no longer serve its owner. This was all that remained of the person with whom I had just spent four very special years of my life.

What a wonderful life he had lived. I received letters from people who knew him in the past, each one recounting something that Graham had done to help them. I heard how, when he was traveling in India, he would give his last rupee to someone who needed it, how he used to feed street children with money he received from a small investment he had. When I realized how much he had loved and helped others during the time we had together, it became evident that the wonderful good deeds he had performed had all gone with him.

There were no more tears. How could there be tears? The relationship had come full circle. There was nothing left unsaid or unresolved. Yes, it had been the hardest thing I had ever done, but the fruits were so great and so numerous. I was truly fortunate to have briefly shared my life with such a human being.

At the funeral the pews were full and people lined the walls. They came from all persuasions, from all walks of life, each with his or her own personal reason for being there. It was strange to return home to see his clothes just as he had left them, and to know that there was no one to claim ownership.

—Anne Doneman

Phuṭṭhassa lokadhammehi, cittaṃ yassa na kampati, asokaṃ virajaṃ khemaṃ; etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.

When faced with life’s vicissitudes, one’s mind is unshaken,
free from sorrow, impurity or fear.
This is the highest welfare.
—Maṇgala Sutta, Sutta Nipāta 2.271

Handadāni, bhikkhave, āmantayāmi vo, vayadhammā saṅkhārā,
appamādena sampādetha.

Now, monks, I exhort you:
All conditioned things have the nature of decay.
Strive on diligently.

—Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, Dīgha Nikāya 2.185

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