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Lessons from the Dying Paperback – September 9, 1997
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A patient is told she has only six months to live, and the priorities in her life suddenly shift. Death can be one of our greatest teachers, if we are willing to open ourselves to the shadows of the unknown. Rodney Smith has been confronting death on a daily basis as a hospice social worker. To this experience he brings his time as a Buddhist monk, delving into the workings of the mind. This alchemical combination has produced a book that, page for page, word for word, is one of the best "meaning of life" books around, rivaling Victor Frankl's classic Man's Search for Meaning in power and insight and surpassing it in depth. Complementing his many anecdotes of personal confrontations with death, Smith analyzes why and how we often short-change ourselves emotionally, and at the end of each chapter, he offers exercises for cultivating human wholeness. There are books about death and grieving. This is a book about transforming life. --Brian Bruya
"Smith communicates such a deep trust in death that we, too, as readers, start to regard death as a friend." (Inquiring Mind)
"In Lessons from the Dying, Rodney Smith shares with clarity and compassion 15 years of insights and skillful means learned from working with the dying. Schooled in Buddhist meditation, Rodney brings clarity and a straightforward approach to these 'lessons' which makes them quite practical for the deepening of the mind as well as the broadening of the heart. He offers to the dying first, and the rest of us by association, an increase in loving presence." (Stephen Levine, author of Meetings on the Edge and Who Dies?)
"Filled with his wise and rich experience, this is a valuable book of practice, stories and meditations." (Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart)
"In this book, the richness of Rodney's years of meditation practice combine with his years of working with those dying and those left behind. It is a clear, practical and compassionate combination. The book rests on Rodney's profound dedication to the truth, which shines through in the text, the stories, the reflections and the exercises." (Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness)
"Lessons From the Dying could also be called 'lessons for the living' because of the courageous honesty revealed in so many of the stories told here....Rodney skillfully guides us through the subtleties and nuances of our own assumptions, hopes, and fears, and shows the possibility of living and dying with an open heart. [This book] is a wise and gentle reminder of what faces us all, a reminder that death is the great mystery that illuminates life." (Joseph Goldstein, author of Insight Meditation)
"Lessons from the Dying is a personal and heartfelt exploration of the human spirit and our inevitable encounter with death." (Joan Halifax, co-author of The Human Encounter with Death)
"Many will find Smith's heartfelt exploration of the human spirit intriguing and comforting. The book is not so much about dying, but how to live fully, embracing the inevitability of change and loss." (Today's Librarian)
"Smith writes compellingly on the nature, value, and connection between life and death. [The dying] have much to teach us about the manner in which we could begin to lives our lives anew. This book is an eloquent, sensitive testimony by an individual who has deeply considered this important, life-altering event." (The Beacon)
"Keeps coming back persistently to the wisdom the dying have for us." (Tricycle: The Buddhist Review)
"In this extraordinary volume, Rodney Smith opens our hearts, minds, and souls to the great mystery we all must face." (Values & Visions)