Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Third Act

For over 2500 years, Buddhists have studied the question of how one can best live in the presence of death. In a sense, a life-threatening disease makes Buddhists of us all, waking us from the illusion of immortality, suddenly and from that time forth.

As some of you know, I’ve been dealing with a rare biliary cancer for many months. It has already taken my gall bladder, bile duct and most of my liver…and it’s not done yet. It looks like in a matter of weeks I’ll be facing chemotherapy, in an attempt to at least slow its progress.

I originally came to Buddhism as a result of a Near Death Experience, or what I now call the Bodhicitta Awakening of arousing the mind of enlightenment. So for decades now, I’ve been studying the matter of living and dying. I’m not afraid of death. But I do fear pain, nausea, and diminished capacities.

Despite this I have been surrounded by loving friends and family. Above all else, I’ve been blessed with my beautiful granddaughter Marisa Alegria.

I feel I have so much to be thankful for….and whenever my time comes, I will not have a lengthy list of regrets, of opportunities missed or things left undone. As a matter of fact, my partner Jim and I are steaming away on the Stardance screenplay. With luck I’ll be there for its premiere.

There are many things I need as I prepare for my third act—supplements, prescription drugs, counseling, expensive alternative therapies, etc—and they all cost money…money I don’t have. So, after all these months of being silent and private about my illness, I recently said yes to my close friend Michelle Meyrink when she asked if she could organize a benefit concert for me.
Others have since jumped in, including my Vancouver Buddhist sangha, Mountain Rain Zen Community, and a dear friend in Florida, Jan Schroeder, who has been auctioning donated items (such as rare Babylon 5 scripts and other SF memorabilia) on eBay for me. Goods or services can be donated for the auction by contacting Jan at Several other methods of helping out, including a straightforward PayPal donation account, can be found at

Another way to help would be to buy our books from Amazon by clicking-through from Spider's site, so we can get the affiliate commission. We’ve spent decades holding up visions of humankind’s highest evolutionary potential while entertaining you enough to keep you turning pages.

Any help you can offer is gratefully appreciated by Spider and me.

In the meantime, I continue to work on, as Roshi Joan Halifax titled her latest book, BEING WITH DYING: Cultivating Compassion And Fearlessness In The Presence of Death. Which aptly describes the human condition, don’t you think?