Lotus in the Fire: The Healing Power of Zen

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Overview

In 1995, Jim Bedard, a martial artist and Zen student, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and given ten days to live. This is the story of how he used his spiritual strength to bring himself into full contact with a death sentence as well as with painful medical treatment, including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. It is also the inspiring story of how the faith of his family, Zen teacher, close friends, and the Buddhist community helped him.

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Overview

In 1995, Jim Bedard, a martial artist and Zen student, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and given ten days to live. This is the story of how he used his spiritual strength to bring himself into full contact with a death sentence as well as with painful medical treatment, including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. It is also the inspiring story of how the faith of his family, Zen teacher, close friends, and the Buddhist community helped him.

Bedard's story introduces us to Zen practices that can help us cope with emotional turmoil and physical pain. His words on compassion, on karma, on gratitude, on impermanence and the inevitability of death—all from a nonsmoking, meditating, aerobically fit vegetarian who became suddenly and "terminally" ill—are inspiring and sometimes funny. He explores, too, the fundamental question of suffering, its cause, and how the teachings of karma can help us accept illness, ultimately using it as an opportunity to deepen our spiritual lives.

"...explores how the teachings of karma can help readers to accept illness and deal with emotional turmoil and physical pain...the author used his spiritual strength to deal with myeloid leukemia, chemotherapy, & a bone marrow transplant."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This extraordinary book is both a treasure and a triumph. It is an inspiring testament to the ways in which rigorous spiritual practice can help us deal with acute suffering, pain, fear, and death... Lotus in the Fire proves the benefits of spiritual practice as supportive tool and a key to healing."—Frederic A. Brussat, Spirituality & Health

"[Bedard's] riveting, taut, and very moving survivor's story will appeal to readers of all faiths. A wake-up call to live life to the fullest, told with modest understatement and no New Age jargon, his book will inspire patients and their families coping with illnesses, as well as anyone coming to terms with death."—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this remarkable document, Canadian writer Bedard tells how his Zen Buddhist faith helped him overcome terminal cancer. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 1995, and given just seven to 10 days to live, Bedard drew upon meditation, prayer, introspection and chanting during months of hospitalization that included devastating rounds of chemotherapy, gallbladder surgery, radiotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. For Bedard, an ex-Catholic turned Buddhist, a vegetarian and a former martial arts teacher who works at the Toronto Zen Center, illness became a spiritual crisis that broke down walls of stubborn self-reliance, egoism, attachment and perfectionism. Now in complete remission, he describes his uncanny out-of-body experiences while in an ICU, as well as a near-death experience that he claims took him to otherworldly realms, confirming his belief that death is only a transition period before one's next rebirth. Through the prism of his harrowing ordeal, he illumines Buddhist concepts of compassion, balance and mind/body unity. Bedard's conviction that karma from present and past lifetimes contributed to causing his disease is a diagnosis with which many will disagree, yet his riveting, taut and very moving survivor's story will appeal to readers of all faiths. A wake-up call to live life to the fullest, told with modest understatement and no New Age jargon, his book will inspire patients and their families coping with illness, as well as anyone coming to terms with death. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In late August 1995, a 42-year-old father of four listened in disbelief as his doctor pronounced a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. He might have fewer than two weeks to live. In this intimate, sobering, sometimes frightening account, Canadian martial artist Bedard chronicles the precipitous deterioration of his health, life-threatening chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the excruciating pain caused by his damaged gallbladder, and several battles with imminent death. More than a celebration of his eventual victory over the disease, this book offers a real message of spiritual growth and hope. Throughout his year-long ordeal, he drew upon years of Zen practice, particularly his understanding of the law of karma, and the loving support of his family, his Zen teacher, and the Buddhist community. A powerful, personal testimony suitable for popular collections on death and dying.--James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570624308
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/9/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 188
  • Sales rank: 808,431
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Bedard began practicing Zen meditation twenty-five years ago as a student of Roshi Philip Kapleau. He also studied martial arts for fifteen years and holds a fifth-degree black belt in karate. Since his bone marrow transplant in 1995, he has been in a state of remission from leukemia. He divides his time between a sales and marketing job and working at the Toronto Zen Centre. He lives in Bethany, Ontario.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2001

    The best book I have ever read

    This is an extremely inspiring account of Jim Bedard's experiences in overcoming AML. Bedard is a person of great faith which enabled him to overcome almost certain death. I first read this when my mother was going through the dying process and it enabled me to face what was coming and assist her in every way I was capable of. Whenever I know someone going through a serious illness, I give them a copy of this book. Nearly always I am told the book gave them the strength to face their circumstances. To see the true meaning of courage and faith, everyone should read this book.

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