Jonathan Foust is a guiding teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington and a founder of the Meditation Teacher Training Institute. He is a full-time teacher of "pragmatic dharma," looking at how we take the teachings that come from Buddhist philosophy and Buddhist psychology and apply them in our lives.
I started my conversation with Jonathan thinking we would talk a lot about Buddhist perspectives on life and death, but we ended up talking mostly about the very human, universal experience of dying. In this Challenge we have had a lot of conversation about how in our society we hold death at a distance. Jonathan shared his experience, anchored in his Buddhist practice, of what this distance costs us and what we gain when we allow ourselves to be present with death.
“I remember with my father not knowing how to support him. For a lot of us we’re projecting ourselves all over the person who is dying. So many people who are dying feel so unseen and unheard.”
“As the Buddha said, your house is already on fire. When I can remember and process that, gratitude, joy, creativity are a natural part of that expression, there is such an incredible sense of celebrating what we have.”
"When I have been present with those who have passed, it’s not that there isn’t grief, but it just feels complete because I was there. It's an extraordinary gift."