In last post I wrote about Pat Dolan who died last week, and offered to share some ideas about her view of death.
Pat, while living in the ecovillage, became enamored with Buddhism. She grew up Catholic. For many years she was involved with the Grail, an organization of Catholic women. She connected with some Buddhist teachers who came and presented at Grailville and began her practice. At Grailville they set up a group that meditated together. This went for years. When things weren’t working any longer at Grailville they moved to Earth Connection located by Mount St. Joseph College.
Pat, over the years, practiced and also taught Buddhism. She carried her practice in preparation of her eminent death. Two concepts, among many, that she found important in Buddhism were the notions of impermanence and detachment, especially as she approached her death. Who we presently are is not who we are. This is an impermanent state and we will move on from it to be reborn, possibly in a higher state as we move toward Nirvana. Along with this is the notion of detachment, that being attached to things, even ones own body, leads to discontent. Things can’t bring us happiness and contentment. Only by detaching ourselves from things do we find contentment.
Pat loved having people visit her over the last months of her life. She was vibrant, communicative and attentive – and without much pain. It was only in the last week of life that she experienced pain and slowly drifted off over that week. She demonstrated in her own death, a wonderful way to approach death.
This coming Saturday we will celebrate her life and passing on. She insisted on having a celebration, because she has moved on to another stage of life. I have the honor of reading the following poem by e.e. cummings at her celebration:
i thank You God for most this amazing
i thank You God for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday;
this is the birth day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any—lifted from the no of all nothing—human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
From e. e. cummings, 100 Selected Poems