Dhamma Letter No. 32
Q&A No. 12
Q: I worry about death. When I am thinking of my death, I worry about my family. How can I cultivate [the acceptance of] “death”?
A: Birth, aging, sickness, and death are natural phenomena. Being present here and now, however, is the actual practice, the real practice, of the meditator.
Thinking about death and worrying about it is a sign that defilements are present in the mind, steering it toward useless proliferation.
Buddhist meditation is about being present right here and right now. It’s not about going back to the past, and worrying about it. And it’s not about going into the future, and worrying about it either.
If you reflect wisely and deeply, you will see that we are actually experiencing birth, existence and death in every conscious moment. Each cell is born, lives and dies momentarily, moment after moment after moment. When you can be in the present moment, then your mind will be at peace.
To practice means to repeat something that you have not yet fully mastered over and over, again and again. By practicing being with each moment of experience fully (over and over, again and again), one day the wisdom of the Buddha will arise. Then, you will know how to deal with death, as well as with life.
In Theravada Buddhism, death is not really death in and of itself. It, like all things in the world, is based in delusion. Meaning, death exists merely in relation to birth. When there is birth, there is death. No birth, no death. Death is in line with being, with birth.
So, it is good to reflect on death, because it will bring about the understanding of Anicca (Dhamma Letter No. 21) and Dukkha (Dhamma Letter No. 14-17). When you understand death in the Dhamma way, your wisdom will arise.
Then, you will understand that when you are happy, your family will be happy. So, be happy this moment.
May you understand Dhamma and be happy!
May you develop wisdom through Dhamma practice!
Ayyā Kosallā & Mahāpajāpatī Bhikkhunī Sangha
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Bhikkuni Kosalla Vipassini is the Abbess of Mahapajapati Monastery in Pioneertown, California. For monastery updates, please see Mahapajapati’s Facebook. Donations are gratefully accepted, whether you volunteer your time, offer funds, or provide needed requisites for the monastics. If you are inspired to donate, you may do so here.
Buddha Sāsanaṁ Ciraṁ Tiṭṭhatu!
May the Buddha’s teachings last a long time!
Bhavatu Sabba Sotiṁ ca Maṅgalaṁ ca!!
May everyone be led on the path of peace and blessing!!
Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu !