Sunday, 11 December 2011

Meditation in the Face of Death

Not for the first time, I urge you to visit the Impacted Nurse, Ian Miller. In a large Australian hospital emergency department, he is on the front line of life and death, and it has yielded him some invaluable insights. He recently blogged this passage, and I thank him for it.


Lee Lipsenthal, MD, wrote this not long before he died:

I am powerless in my dying, aware that those whom I love are hurt by the news. I have also spent the last few weeks in pain from my cancer’s spread, sitting up and meditating to distance myself from the mental agitation of suffering. On most nights this works well, as I remind myself that, though I am in pain, this will pass or I will pass, but it will not be forever.

A sense of peace prevails. I am still alive.

It may seem peculiar that I am calm while others in my life are suffering. I can assure you their suffering makes me sad; I wish this weren’t happening. Yet after almost 30 years of meditating, I have learned to embrace optimism, gratitude and the knowledge that I am not in control over my life or death. Instead of being mad at the hand of fate, I am focused on what is going on — mentally, physically, and emotionally — with myself and those that I love. In spiritual language, I am awake.

I have no bucket list of things to do. I have been living my bucket list for some time now, and when I was first diagnosed, it came to me that the real list in my life was not the places I wanted to see, but the list of friends in my life with whom I want to spend my time.

:: Lee Lipsenthal MD- Huffington Post interview ::

Dr Lipsenthal leaves us with a gift of great value, and it ripples out to us, who never knew him.

There's a video clip on Ian's web page, but I've not copied it here - why not go and have a look, and acquaint yourself with the Impacted Nurse himself.


  1. Extraordinary. Goodness, this takes spiritual discipline. I really feel for his family; their loss is going to be huge. But this is the best it can be for them, Lee's equable and sanguine approach to his death. Thank you for this.

  2. Yes, that is really very good.

    Something comes to my mind in a way that is a juxtaposition rather than a concurrence.

    "I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
    And in short, I was afraid."

    I feel like that. It would be really good to meditate more, before I grow old and wear my trousers rolled.

  3. Yeah, me too, let's get on and do it, Arkers. "Old men should be explorers..."

  4. Er, that quote above refers to me, of course, not you, laddie!