Lotus in the Fire

Jim Bedard, Author Shambhala Publications $19.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-57062-430-8
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.)
Reviewed on: 02/08/1999
Release date: 02/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
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