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Advice for someone who is dying – Ending Part

Update: 07/11/2016
So don’t waver. Let go. Throw it all away.

Advice for someone who is dying – Ending Part


So don’t waver. Let go. Throw it all away.

Even if you don’t let go, everything is starting to leave anyway. Can you see that, how all different parts of your body are trying to slip away? Your eyes, ears, nose, tongue—everything is trying to leave because this isn’t their home. You can’t make a permanent home in a sankhara; you can stay for a short while and then you have to go. It’s like a tenant watching over his tiny little house with failing eyes. His teeth aren’t so good, his ears aren’t so good, his body’s not so healthy, everything is leaving.

So you needn’t worry about anything because this isn’t your real home, it’s just a temporary shelter. Having come into this world, you should contemplate its nature. Everything there is, is preparing to disappear. Look at your body. Is there anything there that’s still in its original form? Is your skin as it used to be? Is your hair? It’s not the same, is it? Where has everything gone? This is nature, the way things are. When their time is up, conditions go their way. This world is nothing to rely on—it’s an endless round of disturbance and trouble, pleasures and pain. There’s no peace.

So understand this point that all people, all creatures, are about to leave. When beings have lived an appropriate time, they go their way. The rich, the poor, the young, the old, all beings must experience this change. To put it simply, impermanence is the Buddha. If we see an impermanent phenomenon really clearly, we’ll see that it’s permanent, in the sense that its subjection to change is unchanging.

This is the permanence that living beings possess. There is continual transformation—from childhood through youth to old age—and that very impermanence, that nature to change is permanent and fixed. If you look at it like that, your heart will be at ease.

Let go, relax, and let your family look after you. Those who nurse the sick grow in goodness and virtue. One who is sick and giving others that opportunity shouldn’t make things difficult for them. If there’s a pain, or some problem or other, let them know and keep the mind in a wholesome state.

One who is nursing parents should fill his or her mind with warmth and kindness, not get caught in aversion. This is the one time when you can repay the debt you owe them. From your birth through your childhood, as you’ve grown up, you’ve been dependent on your parents. That we are here today is because our mothers and fathers have helped us in so many ways. We owe them an incredible debt of gratitude.

So today, all of you children and relatives gathered here together, see how your parents become your children. Before you were their children, now they become yours. They become older and older until they become children again. Their memories go, their eyes don’t see so well, and their ears don’t hear. Sometimes they garble their words. Don’t let it upset you. All of you nursing the sick must know how to let go. Don’t hold on to things; just let go and let them have their own way. When a young child is disobedient, sometimes the parents let it have its own way just to keep the peace, to make it happy. Now your parents are like that child. Their memories and perceptions are confused. Sometimes they muddle up your names or you ask them to give you a cup and they bring a plate. It’s normal, don’t be upset by it.

Let the patient remember the kindness of those who nurse and patiently endure the painful feelings. Exert yourself mentally, don’t let the mind become scattered and agitated, and don’t make things difficult for those who you are looking after. Don’t be averse to the unattractive side of the job, to cleaning up mucus and phlegm, or urine and excrement. Try your best. Everyone in the family give a hand.

These are the only parents you’ve got. They gave you life; they have been your teachers, your nurses and your doctors; they’ve been everything to you. that they have brought you up, taught you, shared their wealth with you and made you their heirs is the great beneficence of parents. Consequently the Buddha taught the virtues of katannu and katavedi, knowing our debt of gratitude and trying to repay it. These two dhammas are complementary. If our parents are in need, they’re unwell or in difficulty, then we do our best to help them. This is katannukatavedi; it is a virtue that sustains the world. It prevents families from breaking up; it makes them stable and harmonious.

Today I have brought you the Dhamma as a gift in this time of illness. I have no material things to give you—there seems to be plenty of those in the house already—and so I give you the Dhamma, something which has a lasting worth, something which you’ll never be able to exhaust. Having received it from me, you can pass it on to as many others as you like and it will never be depleted. That is the nature of the Truth. I am happy to have been able to give you this gift of Dhamma and hope it will give you strength to deal with your pain.

First published on January 1, 1994 by permission of the Abbot, Wat Pah Nanachat, Thailand.

AJAHN CHAH – Lion’s Roar

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