Dr Jonathan Page
Dr Jonathan Page graduated in Medicine with honors from Sydney University in 1976. During his long university summer holidays, he spent many months over several years visiting Buddhist historical and contemporary sites of significance in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, whilst also inspecting medical institutions and frequently encountering sites of recent or current warfare.
He was first taught Buddhist meditation in 1975 by a young monk who magically appeared in the Medical School (when needed), then vanished, at least physically, since he is remembered fondly, particularly for his compassion. Unfortunately, for many years, Dr Page practiced his meditation erratically, returning generally in times of stress and crisis.
With further study and the required years of advanced training he became a specialist Medical Oncologist in 1984, and began a long-term interest in the nascent field of Palliative Care. It became increasingly clear that patient, family and staff suffering could be ameliorated to some extent by Buddhist practices, particularly meditation.
Dr Page has enjoyed competitive and endurance cycling, an activity with meditative qualities, and has completed six editions of the Paris-Brest-Paris (a non-stop 1200km event, held every 4 years), and has crossed the USA 12 times (so far) by bicycle.
Although he prescribes chemotherapy (and now modern targeted drugs as well) and refers patients for radiotherapy and surgery, if necessary, he also incorporates an inquiry into the psychospiritual domain to address matters of fear, regret, guilt, meaning, purpose, love and legacy (as they arise). The psychospiritual domain can be accessed through meditation, presence and deep listening with an open heart-mind.
Dr Page has facilitated the Blue Gum Sangha at North Sydney for nearly 20 years. Finally, he has enjoyed an educational role in the Buddhist community for 15 years and now teaches regularly at the NTI.
Selected Papers and Publications
Conference Papers and Presentations
- Page, J 2021, A Humanistic Buddhist approach to Climate Change, in The 8th International Symposium on Humanistic Buddhism (6 – 8 November), Fo Guang Shan and Nan Tien Institute.The euphemistic descriptor “Climate Change” represents a true modern crisis. This crisis is quite possibly the ultimate existential catastrophe for our species and many other non-human genera and taxonomic families, many of whom have already become extinct through human activity, constituting the Sixth Great Extinction.
To date, despite the grim scientific reportage, there has been an insufficient response by humanity, even with the recent COP 26 meeting in Glasgow. There has been much political and even scientific “reticence”, down-playing the actual seriousness of our plight and even misrepresenting the substantial risk of societal collapse.
Indeed, even the most basic corrective strategy, the reduction of net green-house gas production to zero, first recommended last century, has not yet occurred to any significant degree, and with national pledges mostly not yet enacted. Many climatic tipping points have either been passed or are approaching. A summer ice-free Arctic is likely to occur before 2040 with major consequences for the world. The Greenland and Tibetan glacial melting have been accelerating well beyond expectations. Likewise, the rate of sea-level rise. It now seems likely that the average global temperature will exceed 2.0⁰ C within decades, rising three times as fast in the northern polar region.
Humanistic Buddhism (including other species as well) is ideally placed to help in this looming catastrophe through its confrontation with the truth, through the Bodhisattva ideal (and practice), and through its experience in palliative care (with the associated expressions of denial, anger, desperation, regret, guilt, but also potentially with forgiveness, compassion and unconditional love).