Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2006
Source: Spartan Daily (San Jose State, CA Edu)
Copyright: 2006 Spartan Daily
Author: Mary Beth Hislop
Note: Mary Beth Hislop is a Spartan Daily staff writer. Guest columns 
appear every Tuesday and Wednesday.
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


The first of The Four Noble Truths in the teachings of Buddhism is 
the truth of suffering - that life is suffering, and this encompasses 
birth, disease, old age and death.

My friend Barbara was not Buddhist, but she did experience suffering 
and death ... she didn't make it to old age.

Barbara was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1995. During the next 
several months of weekly chemotherapy treatments, she lost her thick 
and curly hair, lost way too much weight and lost her exuberance and 
zest for life.

She didn't care about her hair, but she did care that she could not 
stand the sight and smell of food. Her husband was from the old 
school of thought and insisted that she cook his meals, even though 
she had no energy or appetite.

None of the anti-nausea medications worked for her. Whatever pain she 
experienced from the cancer itself was exacerbated by the daily 
wrenching spasms that shook her body.

Close friends in her congregation pitched in to support her: They 
cooked, cleaned and took Barbara to her outpatient chemo sessions.

If she was having a good day after a treatment, she'd go to 
McDonald's for the french fries - that was the only food her nose and 
stomach could tolerate in those first few months.

As her weakened immune system became more susceptible to infection 
and the lack of food fed her infirmity, Barbara's doctor suggested a 
new pill for the nausea. Her last lawful option for relief was no 
option at all.

Without medical insurance, each pill cost $1,000.

After the passage of Proposition 215, California's medical marijuana 
initiative, the doctor suggested a prescription for cannabis, even 
though he warned her that she could be arrested as soon as she walked 
out of a clinic with it.

Barbara was both mentally and physically torn. Marijuana was an 
illegal substance, and she didn't want her congregation to judge her 
actions as illegal or inconsistent with her faith in Jehovah. On the 
other hand, she was unable to fully serve her god because she was too weak.

Desire and Ignorance

The second of Buddhism's Noble Truths is that suffering is caused by 
desire and by ignorance, which ultimately depend on each other.

Barbara consulted with an elder, who told her that ingesting an 
illegal substance such as marijuana not only inebriated and 
incapacitated the mind, but left that mind open to the devil's 
influence. Barbara made her decision.

I do not know if Barbara's disease and suffering were rooted in 
desire and ignorance. I do know that she desired to suffer based on ignorance.

Barbara's doctor recommended marijuana based on medical information. 
Without considering the positive benefits that the Creator's plant 
could have on the suffering and embracing the beliefs of governmental 
propaganda, an elder recommended against it.

I cannot understand any reasoning that supports that it was OK for 
Barbara to take synthetically manufactured drugs to relieve her 
nausea, which are illegal if obtained without a prescription, but it 
was unconscionable for her to consider a remedy organically grown on 
God's green earth.

I cannot understand why a person's mind, under the influence of the 
dreaded marijuana, can be so easily influenced by the devil but a 
mind is not considered equally malleable if Vicodin is swallowed.

The third Noble Truth is the truth of cessation - suffering will end 
if desire and ignorance are removed.

Barbara's desire to end her suffering and stay true to her God left 
her no alternative. She gave up the chemotherapy treatments.

Barbara's thick and curly hair came back, more beautiful than ever. 
She gained weight, but not way too much. Her zest and exuberance for 
life came back, if only for a short while.

She died a short time later.


The fourth Noble Truth lists those things a person can meditate on in 
order to end desire and ignorance.

Barbara wouldn't have meditated on these things; she wasn't Buddhist.

But she embraced her knowledge of the Bible as the truth, and she 
suffered in her desire to please. Whether that made her ignorant is a 
question of semantics.

We may not all agree on what the truth is, but in truth, we all suffer.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake