On Death and Suffering
“Buddha never taught about suffering to worsen our aversion to life and reality.His intention was to draw our focus onto suffering itself, and cultivate virtue to attain ultimate peace” (Pg 88)
I often recall one of the first patients I looked after. She was in her seventies, lived alone and had lots of health problems. I was intent on fixing them all. I prescribed medicine, sent her to specialists, for tests, and to hospital whenever she got worse. Sometimes she didn’t want to go, but I would
convince her it was for the best. When she died, I was by her side, and she was grateful. But over time, I realised that perhaps I hadn’t really helped by trying to “fix” everything. Did I really alleviate any of her suffering and pain? We often feel death and suffering is a failure on our part. We know it is inevitable but often deny its reality. The Buddha’s teaching gently asks us to face realities and gives us tools to help us on our life’s journeys. Having this guidance has made my work in medicine so much more meaningful. While we are trained to be technical “experts”, having the personal strength to be someone’s support through their path of suffering has been an even greater privilege.
Priscilla, Medical Doctor