One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die

This is an article about a triple amputee. Who became a doctor and pioneered an approach to dying which is all about living to the full. I especially like his debunking of… should I put this? Nope, read the whole article and see what you think.

The following comes right at the start of Dr. Miller”s story when he was coming to terms with having just had his third limb amputated. His left arm.

It wasn’t that Miller was suddenly enlightened; internally, he was in turmoil. But in retrospect, he credits himself with doing one thing right: He saw a good way to look at his situation and committed to faking that perspective, hoping that his genuine self might eventually catch up. Miller refused, for example, to let himself believe that his life was extra difficult now, only uniquely difficult, as all lives are. He resolved to think of his suffering as simply a “variation on a theme we all deal with — to be human is really hard,” he says. His life had never felt easy, even as a privileged, able-bodied suburban boy with two adoring parents, but he never felt entitled to any angst; he saw unhappiness as an illegitimate intrusion into the carefree reality he was supposed to inhabit. And don’t we all do that, he realized. Don’t we all treat suffering as a disruption to existence, instead of an inevitable part of it? He wondered what would happen if you could “reincorporate your version of reality, of normalcy, to accommodate suffering.” As a disabled person, he was getting all kinds of signals that he was different and separated from everyone else. But he worked hard to see himself as merely sitting somewhere on a continuum between the man on his deathbed and the woman who misplaced her car keys, to let his accident heighten his connectedness to others, instead of isolating him. This was the only way, he thought, to keep from hating his injuries and, by extension, himself.

Read the whole article.

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4 thoughts on “One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die”

  1. Oh Mugo. That was amazing. It certainly bangs life into perspective. Thank you.
    in gassho,

  2. Dear Rev. Mugo,
    Dear unknown but deeply appreciated world-wide Sangha,
    My new next-door neighbour is a recent tetraplegic, having had a car accident. I have rarely seen such a sunny, shining smile. Over the garden wall I hear laughter as he and his wife share a joke.
    Thank you, neighbour. Thank you, Dr. Millar. Teachers are everywhere.
    in gassho

  3. I so enjoyed this article the other day and thought how much it mirrored the Buddha’s teaching. So inspirational how he lives and how he helps others. The fact that suffering happens and we are not singled out because we suffer nor have we failed if we suffer is part of the refuge the Dharma offers us.

  4. I don’t think I could add anything to this . I had to read it right through.
    It did remind me of my final years in nursing where I was free to nurse people the way I wanted to. That is nurse the whole person rather than their condition which in my field was orthopaedic trauma.

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