Back in 2003 I sat by while the head of our order battled for his life in hospital. Hour by hour, procedure after incredible procedure until he said enough and we took him back to Shasta Abbey. He died hours after getting there. Life and death dramas are being lived and died constantly in all corners and mostly in private. The following quote is from thoughtful article by Christopher Hitchens. In the face of what he is dealing with, terminal cancer, he questions the jolly epithets around death and survival. Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche is one of them.
In the brute physical world, and the one encompassed by medicine, there are all too many things that could kill you, don’t kill you, and then leave you considerably weaker.
From Trial of the Will, Christopher Hitchens. To be published in Vanity Fair magazine.
I’m left wondering what I would decide, should I ever have to, if faced with the sorts of choices the monk mentioned had to. Sick people, terminally ill people, people who are actually needing to make life or death decisions are not in the strongest position to make them. How free would I feel myself to be, in the face of eager medical people, to decline treatment.
Thanks to Tony for sending in the link. Much appreciated.