Saturday, June 23, 2018

death dance

This morning, though not for the first time, an article about California's right-to-die law put a burr under my saddle.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California health officials reported Friday that 374 terminally ill people took drugs to end their lives in 2017, the first full year after a law made the option legal.
The California Department of Public Health said 577 people received aid-in-dying drugs last year, but not everyone used them. The law allows adults to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor has determined they have six months or less to live. They can self-administer the drugs.
Is death a sticky wicket? Sure -- there are facets heaped upon facets. But since dying is the only visible option to anyone's life, could we please stop making it a profound or unusual event, whatever the cause or method?

1. Old age comes as something of a surprise. This is not surprising when you stop to think that it has never been tried before. Old age means a weakening of connections and capacities. Often pain is involved as well. Sure, it's surprising, but it's not THAT surprising.
2. The Dhammapada, a popular Buddhist text of the words attributed to 'the Buddha' observes, "All fear dying./ All fear death." OK, it may be scary. But scary or no, death doesn't mind.
3. Is suicide selfish and messy? Maybe so, but dying in your sleep is just as likely to leave a mess for someone to clean up as a .38 bullet.
4. I am sick of people who are not yet very old telling those who are old how they can improve or extend a long-lived life. With fewer and fewer capacities and connections, the one thing the elderly can, enfin, claim for themselves is this life. So ... stay the fuck out of it! Like 'anti-abortion' supporters who seem to be no where in view when it comes to caring for an unwanted baby, anti-death trumpets seem to go silent or wussy when it comes to options other than death. Volunteer, travel, visit grand-kids, collect stamps, get religion. Go ahead if that makes you happy, but don't make a rule to legislate what is none of your fucking business.
5. Ascribing blame won't wash. The empty place in others' hearts won't wash. Life isn't dancing among the dandelions for your benefit alone ... or maybe it is. So...

Shut up and dance. Life takes the starch out of living, but the elderly have often done their starchy stints and it's time to hang out the laundry to dry.


  1. Tina Turner, currently 78, made a recording in 2011 entitled “Children Beyond.” One the tracks is the mantra, Sarveśām Svastir Bhavatu. She put a music video of this mantra on YouTube:

    Om Om Om
    Sarveśām Svastir Bhavatu
    Sarveśām Shāntir Bhavatu
    Sarveśām Pūrnam Bhavatu
    Sarveśām Maṇgalam Bhavatu

    May there be happiness in all
    May there be peace in all
    May there be completeness in all
    May there be success in all

    The origin of this mantra is believed to be from the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣads though not in the present form.

    Interestingly, this mantra is virtually identical to the essentials of Metta practice as taught in many Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist lineages.

    According to one tradition, Shakyamuni Buddha taught this fairly early in his teaching career to his followers who had various problems resulting in significant and disturbing fears.

    Reading the above post made me wonder about resistance to sound advice solely based on its delivery and source. Also, it make me wonder about offering advice to a non receptive person.

    Following a train of thought, I began to wonder how many monks felt the follow sentimen -, “Screw this Metta bullshit. I ain’t meditatin’ under a tree only to get eaten by a monstrous hungry tiger.” I’m going to build me a fucking hut,” One or two monks at the very least.

  2. If you've lost sufficient abilities to engage life, just waiting to die is just bone crushing boring. And of course, leaving it to nature can leave you open to some serious misery. At some point you're likely to say "enough is enough, let's get it over with". And nobody has the right or the insight to tell me that I'm wrong once I get there.