Buddhist teacher, author to speak on living, dying

By KELLI LACKETT, The Coloradoan, May 4, 2007

Coming to terms with death changes the way you live.

Fort Collins, Colorado (USA) -- That's part of the message that Buddhist teacher Judy Lief will bring to Fort Collins on May 10 in a talk about a contemplative approach to death and dying.

<< Judy Lief

Lief is the author of "Making Friends with Death: A Buddhist Guide to Encountering Mortality."

"Relating with death isn't just thinking about the future. It's a quality of life - an ongoing stream of impermanence," Lief said Wednesday in a phone interview from her home in Vermont.

When people come to terms with this impermanence, "we become a little more at ease with our own humanness and vulnerability and flaws," she said. "We are not warding off our own vulnerability in order to be strong."

Ironically, this relaxed quality makes it easier to connect with those who might be ill or dying, Lief said.

Lief's approach has roots in Buddhist thought and practice but is accessible to everyone regardless of religious background, she said. The Fort Collins Shambhala Meditation Center and Hospice of Larimer County are sponsoring the event.

Lief will offer short voluntary exercises that people can use to be more present in their lives - rather than physically or mentally "checking out" during difficult circumstances, and thus be more connected with others.

"The underpinning of the whole contemplative approach is that you can train yourself to be more present, loving and compassionate," she said. "If you can be there with someone and be really present, they feel supported."