Buddha's Teachings on Death (from the Buddhist Canon)

A forum for discussing aspects of dying and death. Please be mindful when posting in this section.
Post Reply
User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 10646
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Buddha's Teachings on Death (from the Buddhist Canon)

Post by Queequeg »

"Whilst I had such power and good fortune, yet I thought: 'When an untaught ordinary man, who is subject to ageing, not safe from ageing, sees another who is aged, he is shocked, humiliated and dis­gusted; for he forgets that he himself is no exception. But I too am subject to ageing, not safe from ageing, and so it cannot befit me to be shocked, humiliated and disgusted on seeing another who is aged.' When I considered this, the vanity of youth entirely left me.

"I thought: 'When an untaught ordinary man, who is subject to sickness, not safe from sickness, sees another who is sick, he is shocked, humiliated and disgusted; for he forgets that he himself is no exception. But I too am subject to sickness, not safe from sickness, and so it cannot befit me to be shocked, humiliated and disgusted on seeing another who is sick.' When I considered this, the vanity of health entirely left me.

"I thought: 'When an untaught ordinary man, who is subject to death, not safe from death, sees another who is dead, he is shocked, humiliated and disgusted, for he forgets that he himself is no excep­tion. But I too am subject to death, not safe from death, and so it cannot befit me to be shocked, humiliated and disgusted on seeing another who is dead.' When I considered this, the vanity of life entirely left me."

Anguttara Sutta 3:38
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 2644
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: Buddha's Teachings on Death (from the Buddhist Canon)

Post by Aemilius »

Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga), Eight Ways of Recollecting Death, part 8:
As to the shortness of the moment: in the ultimate sense the life-moment of living beings is extremely short, being only as much as the occurrence of a single conscious moment. Just as a chariot wheel, when it is rolling, rolls [that is, touches the ground] only on one point of [the circumference of] its tire, and, when it is at rest, rests only on one point, so too, the life of living beings lasts only for a single conscious moment. When that consciousness has ceased, the being is said to have ceased, according as it is said: “In a past conscious moment he did live, not he does live, not he will live. In a future conscious moment not he did live, not he does live, he will live. In the present conscious moment not he did live, he does live, not he will live.”
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 2644
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: Buddha's Teachings on Death (from the Buddhist Canon)

Post by Aemilius »

Arakenanusasani Sutta: Araka's Teaching
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

"Once, monks, there was a teacher named Araka, a sectarian leader who was free of passion for sensual pleasures. He had many hundreds of students and he taught them the Dhamma in this way: 'Next to nothing, brahmans, is the life of human beings — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

"'Just as a dewdrop on the tip of a blade of grass quickly vanishes with the rising of the sun and does not stay long, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a dewdrop — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

"'Just as when the rain-devas send rain in fat drops, and a bubble on the water quickly vanishes and does not stay long, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a water bubble — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

"'Just as a line drawn in the water with a stick quickly vanishes and does not stay long, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a line drawn in the water with a stick — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

"'Just as a river flowing down from the mountains, going far, its current swift, carrying everything with it, so that there is not a moment, an instant, a second where it stands still, but instead it goes & rushes & flows, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a river flowing down from the mountains — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

"'Just as a strong man forming a drop of spit on the tip of his tongue would spit it out with little effort, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a drop of spit — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

"'Just as a sliver of meat thrown into an iron pan heated all day quickly vanishes and does not stay long, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a sliver of meat — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

"'Just as a cow to be slaughtered being led to the slaughterhouse, with every step of its foot closer to its slaughtering, closer to death, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a cow to be slaughtered — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.'

"Now at that time, monks, the human life span was 60,000 years, with girls marriageable at 500. And at that time there were [only] six afflictions: cold, heat, hunger, thirst, defecation, & urination. Yet even though people were so long-lived, long-lasting, with so few afflictions, that teacher Araka taught the Dhamma to his disciples in this way: 'Next to nothing, brahmans, is the life of human beings — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.'

"At present, monks, one speaking rightly would say, 'Next to nothing is the life of human beings — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.' At present, monks, one who lives a long time is 100 years old or a little bit more. Living 100 years, one lives for 300 seasons: 100 seasons of cold, 100 seasons of heat, 100 seasons of rain. Living for 300 seasons, one lives for 1,200 months: 400 months of cold, 400 months of heat, 400 months of rain. Living for 1,200 months, one lives for 2,400 fortnights: 800 fortnights of cold, 800 fortnights of heat, 800 fortnights of rain. Living for 2,400 fortnights, one lives for 36,000 days: 12,000 days of cold, 12,000 days of heat, 12,000 days of rain. Living for 36,000 days, one eats 72,000 meals: 24,000 meals in the cold, 24,000 meals in the heat, 24,000 meals in the rain — counting the taking of mother's milk and obstacles to eating. These are the obstacles to eating: when one doesn't eat while angered, when one doesn't eat while suffering or stressed, when one doesn't eat while sick, when one doesn't eat on the observance [uposattha] day, when one doesn't eat while poor.

"Thus, monks, I have reckoned the life of a person living for 100 years: I have reckoned the life span, reckoned the seasons, reckoned the years, reckoned the months, reckoned the fortnights, reckoned the nights, reckoned the days, reckoned the meals, reckoned the obstacles to eating. Whatever a teacher should do — seeking the welfare of his disciples, out of sympathy for them — that have I done for you. Over there are the roots of trees; over there, empty dwellings. Practice jhana, monks. Don't be heedless. Don't later fall into regret. This is our message to you all."
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
User avatar
well wisher
Posts: 436
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:57 am

Re: Buddha's Teachings on Death (from the Buddhist Canon)

Post by well wisher »

In the Anguttara Nikaya the Buddha has said, "Oh Monks, there are ten ideas, which if made to grow, made much of, are of great fruit, of great profit for plunging into Nibbana, for ending up in Nibbana." Of these ten, one is death. Contemplation on death and on other forms of sorrow such as old age, and disease, constitutes a convenient starting point for the long line of investigation and meditation that will ultimately lead to Reality. This is exactly what happened in the case of the Buddha. Was it not the sight of an old man followed by the sight of a sick man and thereafter the sight of a dead man that made Prince Siddhattha, living in the lap of luxury, to give up wife and child, home and the prospect of a kingdom, and to embark on a voyage of discovery of truth, a voyage that ended in the glory of Buddhahood and the bliss of Nibbana?
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el102.html
Buddhist Reflections on Death by V.F. Gunaratna © 1994
Post Reply

Return to “Dying and Death”