Arnaud Maitland with Caroline van Tuyll van Serooskerken. Living Without Regret: Growing Old in the Light of Tibetan Buddhism. Foreword by Tarthang Tulku. Berkeley, Calif.: Dharma Publishing, 2004. Paperback, xxiv + 332 pages.
This book will grip, disturb, and also encourage you.
It describes the main author’s grabbling with the decline and death of his mother, who was an Alzheimer’s patient. This terrible disease deprives one of what we regard as our most essential nature—our precious sense of continuous identity. To see a person slowly being robbed of her good-natured personality and awareness and instead succumbing to disorientation and absolute terror is a horrifying experience for anyone. To watch one’s own mother be dismantled in this way must be unimaginably painful, and Maitland felt a strange sense of guilt for years.
As a Buddhist practitioner, however, he learned to understand the experience and also go beyond the pain and guilt. This book is a crystallization of Maitland’s difficult process of coming to terms with the inevitability of suffering and death. It is written with great passion but also enormous clarity, as befits a strong practitioner of the self-transcending path of the Buddha.
A student of Tarthang Tulku, Maitland has patently succeeded in bringing the Buddhist Dharma into life. Using the traumatic experience of his mother’s ten-year-battle with Alzheimer’s disease as his anchor point, he unfurls for the reader the intricacies of Tibetan Buddhism, so that these teachings assume an immediate practical relevance. His presentation of Buddhist teachings is vivid and superb.
He quickly involves the reader in a personal consideration, since suffering and death are universal constants of human experience. He shows that we all live in one or another strange bardo state and that we would do well to take recourse to the Dharma now while we still can do so with our faculties intact.
This book is written for everyone—those who are suffering or dying presently and those who are called to tend to them and who can still look forward to their own old age and eventual demise. Highly recommended.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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