Posting Essays

Advice for someone who is dying

Update: 05/11/2016
Don’t wish it were otherwise
 

Advice for someone who is dying

 

The Buddha taught us to scan and examine this body,\r\nfrom the soles of the feet up to the crown of the head, then back down to the\r\nfeet again. Just take a look at the body. What sort of things do you see? Is\r\nthere anything intrinsically clean there? Can you find any abiding essence?\r\nThis whole body is steadily degenerating and the Buddha taught us to see that\r\nit doesn’t belong to us. It is natural for the body to be this way because all\r\nconditioned phenomena are subject to change. How else would you have it be?\r\nActually there’s nothing wrong with the way the body is. It’s not the body that\r\ncauses you suffering, it’s your wrong thinking. When you see the right wrongly,\r\nthere’s bound to be confusion.

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It’s like the water of a river. It naturally flows\r\ndown the gradient; it never flows against it, and that is its nature. If a\r\nperson were to go and stand on a river bank and, seeing the water flowing\r\nswiftly down its course, foolishly want it to flow back up the gradient, he\r\nwould suffer. Whatever he was doing, his wrong thinking would allow him no\r\npeace of mind. He would be unhappy because of his wrong view, thinking against\r\nthe stream. If he had right view, he would see that the water must inevitably\r\nflow down the gradient, but until he realized and accepted that fact, the man\r\nwould be agitated and upset.

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The river that must flow down the gradient is like\r\nyour body. Having been young, your body has become old and now it is meandering\r\ntowards its death. Don’t go wishing it were otherwise; it is not something you\r\nhave the power to remedy. The Buddha told us to see the way things are and then\r\nlet go of our clinging to them. Take this feeling of letting go as your refuge.\r\nKeep meditating even if you feel tired and exhausted. Let your mind dwell with\r\nthe breath. Take a few deep breaths and then establish the mind on the breath\r\nusing the mantra Buddha. Make this practice habitual.

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Let\r\ngo of all externals

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The more exhausted you feel, the more subtle and\r\nfocused your concentration must be, so that you can cope with the painful\r\nsensations that arise.

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When you start to feel fatigued, then bring all your\r\nthinking to a halt, let the mind gather itself together, and then turn to\r\nknowing the breath. Just keep up the inner recitation: Bud-dho, Bud-dhu. Let go\r\nof all externals. Don’t go grasping at thoughts of your children and relatives,\r\ndon’t grasp at anything whatsoever. Let go. Let the mind unite in a single\r\npoint and let that composed mind dwell with the breath. Let the breath be its\r\nsole object of knowledge. Concentrate until the mind becomes increasingly\r\nsubtle, until feelings are insignificant and there is great inner clarity and\r\nwakefulness. Then when painful sensations arise, they will gradually cease of\r\ntheir own accord.

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Finally you’ll look on the breath as if it were a\r\nrelative come to visit you. When a relative leaves, we follow him out and see\r\nhim off. We watch until he’s walked or driven out of sight and then we go back\r\nindoors. We watch the breath in the same way. If the breath is coarse, we know\r\nthat it’s coarse; if it’s subtle, we know that it’s subtle. As it becomes\r\nincreasingly fine, we keep following it, while simultaneously awakening the\r\nmind. Eventually the breath disappears altogether and all that remains is the\r\nfeeling of wakefulness. This is called meeting the Buddha. We have that clear\r\nwakeful awareness that is called Biiddlio, the one who knows, the one who is\r\nawake, the radiant one. It is meeting and dwelling with the Buddha, with\r\nknowledge and clarity. For it was only the historical flesh-and-blood Buddha\r\nthat entered Parinibbana. The true Buddha—the Buddha that is clear, radiant,\r\nknowing—we can still experience and attain today, and when we do, the heart is\r\none.

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Just\r\nbe still

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So let go, put everything down—everything except\r\nknowing. Don’t be fooled if visions or sounds arise in your mind during\r\nmeditation. Put them all down. Don’t take hold of anything at all. Just stay\r\nwith this non-dual awareness. Don’t worry about the past or the future. Just be\r\nstill and you will reach the place where there is no advancing, no retreating\r\nand no stopping, where there is nothing to grasp at or cling to. Why? Because\r\nthere’s no self, no “me” or “mine.” It’s all gone.

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The Buddha taught us to be emptied of everything in\r\nthis way, not to carry anything with us. To know, and having known, let go.

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Realizing the Dhamma, the path to freedom from the\r\nRound of Birth and Death, is a task that we all have to do alone. So keep\r\ntrying to let go and to understand the teachings. Really put effort into your\r\ncontemplation. Don’t worry about your family. At the moment they are as they\r\nare; in the future they will be like you. There’s no one in the world who can\r\nescape this fate. The Buddha told us to put down everything that lacks a real\r\nabiding substance. If you put everything down, you will see the truth. If you\r\ndon’t, you won’t. That’s the way it is and it’s the same for everyone in the\r\nworld. So don’t worry and don’t grasp at anything.

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AJAHN\r\nCHAH – Lion’s Roar

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