Meditation on Death

18-Jun-2016

Instructions: Read the italics text silently to yourself and do as instructed. Read the bold text out loud. Remain mindful of your emotional state throughout the reading. Carry forward the principles of previous instructions into subsequent lines, unless directly instructed otherwise. If a specific line becomes overwhelming, return to the previous line until the feeling-tone becomes neutral, and try it again. If the practice as a whole becomes overwhelming, switch to a samatha practice (calming meditation), and try again at a later time. Be persistent.

Enter a place of solitude and guard your thoughts. Examine how you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically. Next, consider the death of beings, with mind undistracted, thus: “I shall die; I shall enter the realm of death; I shall not escape death.” Remain mindful of the feeling-tone in your mind and body as you contemplate this phrase over and over, and do so until the felling-tone becomes neutral.

Consider in inevitability of death by repeating “My death is inevitable. There is no skill or cause that can make my life immortal. Just as when the sun and the moon rise, no skill or cause can make them turn back, so to can no skill or cause stop my own death.”

Next consider the timeliness of your death, by repeating the following phrases until the feeling-tone becomes neutral:

  • I may die in old age
  • I may die in a decade
  • I may die in a year
  • I may die in a month
  • I may die in a week
  • I may die within the day
  • I may die within the hour
  • I may die in the next breath
  • There is no sign of death. There is no fixed time when death will occur. The time of my death is impossible to predict.

Contemplate the manner of your death suchly:

  • I may die from infectious or parasitic diseases
  • I may die from wearing out of the body
  • I may die from lack of food or drink
  • I may die from fire or drowning
  • I may die from heat or cold
  • I may die from being attacked by an animal
  • I may be murdered, or die in violence, or war
  • I may die from an accident
  • I may die from dementia
  • I may die spontaneously, from no assignable cause

Consider the non-discriminating universality of death:

  • Kings who possessed great treasures, and beings who were of great social power, and all other kings, entered the state of death
  • The many sages of old, who possessed great supernormal power, and who caused fire and water to issue forth from their bodies, also entered the state of death.
  • The great hearers of old, the Venerable Elders, who were possessed of immense wisdom and power, also entered the state of death.
  • The many Buddhas and arahants who attained enlightenment, and who were endowed with all virtue, also entered the state of death
  • The Consummate, Supremely Enlightened, Matchless One, who manifested boundless compassion, purity, and wisdom, also entered the state of death.
  • All beings who were before my time died, all beings who are alive now will die, and all those who are born in the future, will also enter the state of death.
  • All those who I am close to, all those who I am far from, and all those who I don’t know, will also enter the state of death.
  • All animals, all plants, all fungi, all microorganisms, all that which lives will enter the state of death. Death is the final condition for all beings.

Next, be mindful of death in the impermanence of the moment, in the same manner: “In the past conscious moment, one did not live, one is not living, one will not live. In the future conscious moment, one did not live, one is not living, one will not live. In the present conscious moment, one did not live, one will not live, only one is living”

Take some time to examine how you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically. Finally, contemplate the benefits of this practice, once: “The practitioner who practises mindfulness of death is possessed of diligence as regards the higher meritorious states, and of dislike as regards the demeritorious. The practitioner who practises mindfulness of death is not greedy or stingy, does not cling to things, and is endowed with the perception of impermanence and the perception of not-self. The practitioner who practises mindfulness of death fares well and approaches the ambrosial. When this practitioner comes to die, there is no bewilderment. The practitioner, through steadfast mindfulness of death, develops the perception of disagreeableness. But owing to facility in the perception of disagreeableness with facility in steadfast mindfulness, the mind grows to be undisturbed. When the mind is undisturbed, the practitioner is able to destroy the hindrances and cause the arising of the meditation factors”