Art of Dying Volume One | Page 9

is changing and that to study The Way is to study the self , to loosen up and open your hand from self-clinging — to allow the 10,000 things to flow through you . That ’ s just the way it is .
We suffer because of our conditioning . Period . And the practice is about how to uproot our conditioning and self-clinging so that we can actually be free . If we call it life or call it death ; or whatever it is ; that ’ s what I am most interested in . Dying people are the most amazing teachers because they have no time for bullshit . The smack in their face of the reality that this form is finite is so shocking for most people . Even your body cannot save you at the time of your death . Regardless of what you have , nothing is going to save you . We all come in empty handed and go out barefoot .
One of my favorite joys is to look at the night sky and to recognize the hubris of thinking that we know anything . To insist , ‘ Oh I know something .’ Look up and tell the night sky that you know what you know and see what comes back . We have no idea . The grasping to know something is the greatest deprivation .
Is it life or is it death ? I don ’ t know . Those are just ideas anyway . Even the terms , ‘ life ’ and ‘ death ;’ ‘ this is life ’ and ‘ this is death ’… maybe . No one has an answer but there ’ s company . The connectedness of company and companionship in the not knowing is essential . The nourishment of feeling many voices saying , ‘ Wow , we ’ re all in the unknown here .’ The only thing that makes sense is to completely pay attention and care . I can ’ t think of what ’ s more valuable .
Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison , MFA , LMSW , DMIN , cofounded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care , the first Zen-based organization to offer fully accredited ACPE clinical chaplaincy training in America , which delivers contemplative approaches to care through education , direct service , and meditation practice . Paley Ellison is the academic advisor for the Buddhist students in the Master in Pastoral Care and Counseling program at NYZCCC ’ s education partner , New York Theological Seminary . He is currently on the faculty of the University of Arizona Medical School ’ s Center for Integrative Medicine ’ s Integrative Medicine Fellowship , and he is a visiting professor at the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics , of the University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston Medical School . Paley Ellison ’ s public programs have introduced thousands to the practices of mindful and compassionate care of the living and dying . More than 30,000 people listen to his podcasts each year . Koshin is a popular keynote speaker for national conferences , including the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization , Association of Clinical Pastoral Education , Integrative Healthcare Symposium , and the Palliative Care Symposium . His groundbreaking work has been widely featured in the media , including the PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly , and in numerous print publications such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times . Koshin is the co-editor of Awake at the Bedside : Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care ( Wisdom Publications , 2016 ). He began his formal Zen training in 1987 , and he delightfully continues to study with Dorothy Dai En Friedman , Zen teacher in the White Plum Soto Zen Lineage . He is a senior Zen monk , Soto Zen teacher , ACPE supervisor , and Jungian psychotherapist . KOSHIN PALEY