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Death and spiritual practice

misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a HinduIndia Veteran

Hi All,
Even though I theoretically understand that I may die, but this understanding remains as a thing I know in my brain, but unless I deliberately think about it this thing does not even come to my mind. How to deepen this understanding? Moreover, the urge to know what is the ultimate truth does not even come to my mind. Even when I theoretically think that I may die, then the next thought comes as so what - even question like where I will go after my death does not come to my mind. So how was it that Siddhartha saw one dead body in his life and it moved him internally so deeply that he decided to renounce everything in his life by leaving his palace and going alone to a forest to become a saint.
So what to do to deepen this understanding of death and impermanence in my life? Also how to arise the determination to put the effort needed to realize ultimate truth? Thanks.

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited November 25

    Well you are in India so you have burning ghats and public cremations, you can spend time there to truly get acquainted with the impermanence of the body.

    I remember when I was on holiday in India I had a little apartment which had a sidelong view on the river and the burning ghats in that town, it was quite an experience.

    That is a really good start, and then it is important to realise that interdependence and impermanence are related. If you study Thich Nhat Hanh’s lectures on inter-being, you’ll come to see how all things are linked, and how everything changes from moment to moment.

    ShoshinpersonKundo
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Well you are in India so you have burning ghats and public cremations, you can spend time there to truly get acquainted with the impermanence of the body.

    I remember when I was on holiday in India I had a little apartment which had a sidelong view on the river and the burning ghats in that town, it was quite an experience.

    My native city is Varanasi and we have a ghat for burning of dead bodies. I have went there few times and on some days I spent nearly 3 hours and I saw the whole process of people bringing a dead body to that ghat and then the process of burning of a dead body.
    Even today in afternoon, I went to a burning ghat and spent some time there. But still my situation is that I never remember that I may die and so laziness rules in my daily life leading me to not put a dedicated effort in my spiritual practice.
    So that is why I am asking how to get this idea that - I may die - in my heart and not just in my brain? I think if this idea comes in my heart as a thing I really know then may be it can help in rising of the question that - where will I go after my death - and then may be the inquiry regarding whether I am my body or not - can become a more important question for me. Currently even though if I try to think that - I may die - then also no further question arises in my mind, in a way my mind says - so what - and even this question does not arise in me that - am I my body or not? Thanks.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    I think it best not to bother answering that question and to leave it open. Mind is funny and it's always a good idea to be careful what one wishes for.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    I am stumped here...
    Do you really have to question ABSOLUTELY everything?
    More to the point: why do you expect us to do the thinking for you?
    Why is it us who have to provide you with answers?
    Does your personal line of thinking ever help you come up with answers of your own or will this pointless questioning never end?
    Your threads are re-hashing of your own past threads, and it seems to me that you have been posting threads twice daily the past year.
    Do you have a more useful way to fill your days, @miscemisc1?
    As in doing some practice, work, have a date with your wife?

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Let’s not be too hard on him, any member of our virtual sangha can sometimes ask a few questions more than is pertinent... perhaps he is having difficulty absorbing it.

    @misecmisc1 said:
    So that is why I am asking how to get this idea that - I may die - in my heart and not just in my brain? I think if this idea comes in my heart as a thing I really know then may be it can help in rising of the question that - where will I go after my death - and then may be the inquiry regarding whether I am my body or not - can become a more important question for me. Currently even though if I try to think that - I may die - then also no further question arises in my mind, in a way my mind says - so what - and even this question does not arise in me that - am I my body or not? Thanks.

    I think to really bring it home to you the only thing that would work would be a close encounter with death, like a near-miss car accident that you can walk away from.

    Or you can try meditating in depth on the Tibetan nine-point meditation on death:

    The first Root: Death is certain.
    1. No being has ever escaped death [unless one becomes enlightened].
    2. I am constantly becoming closer to death.
    3. There is not much time to act.

    The second Root: The time of death is uncertain.
    4. The lifespan of human beings is not fixed.
    5. More conditions endanger life than support it.
    6. This body is extremely fragile.

    The third Root: Nothing can help at the time of death, except spiritual practice.
    7. Wealth can’t help.
    8. Friends and relatives can’t help.
    9. Your body can’t help.

    The conclusion being: I must practice the dharma diligently.

    personmisecmisc1
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    One thing is dead certain, mind the pun: when your skandhas disintegrate in thin air, none of this pondering will matter at all...
    And having come up with answers will not make any difference.
    At all...

  • HozanHozan Veteran
    edited November 25

    @misecmisc1 maybe one of us here should give up work and write a book containing all of the answers to the mysteries of the universe...and also containing the solutions to your personal problems in life and post it to you when its done.

    After reading the book you could then come back here and ask more questions while in the meantime doing no practise or taking any positive practical actions to work on the problems that trouble you.

    Bingo. Problem solved.

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    "Even though I theoretically understand that I may die....".

    May die? May die??????
    Death is a foregone conclusion for us all.

    personBuddhadragon
  • HozanHozan Veteran

    By the way @misecmisc1 I am not being unkind or un- buddhist. We have been trying unsuccessfully on here for a long time to try to get you to take positive practical steps to better your situation but you insist on just constantly asking questions of us.....as if we have the power to solve your problems for you.

    Stop asking so many questions and TAKE ACTION. You alone can walk your path. By all means ask advice and seek support but if you are unwilling to take action and responsibility yourself, then ultimately you will not find any solutions.

    personBuddhadragonKundo
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @misecmisc1 said:... Even though I theoretically understand that I may die,

    There's no 'theory' about it. You WILL die. In fact, you are dying right now. Every day is one day less. Every breath, is one breath less. Every blink, is one blink less. The more you breathe, the closer you get to breathing your last breath...

    but this understanding remains as a thing I know in my brain, but unless I deliberately think about it this thing does not even come to my mind.

    You should Meditate on death; visualise yourself dying, visualise the people around you, visualise them preparing your body for cremation. SEE yourself as a dead corpse. Then look at how your insides are rotting, breaking down, and how the flames consume your dead limbs. Do this at least once a week.

    How to deepen this understanding?

    There is no deepening the understanding. There is accepting the inevitable. You are dying right now. And every day that passes, you die a little more. That's the truth.

    Moreover, the urge to know what is the ultimate truth does not even come to my mind.

    Just as well really. If you don't know what it is, why should it come to mind, exactly?

    Even when I theoretically think that I may die,

    It's not a theory, you must get that through your head.

    then the next thought comes as so what - even question like where I will go after my death does not come to my mind.

    No, 'So what' is actually a very good way of looking at it. Indeed. So what? Join the club.

    So how was it that Siddhartha saw one dead body in his life and it moved him internally so deeply that he decided to renounce everything in his life by leaving his palace and going alone to a forest to become a saint.

    That's not what the impetus was.
    He saw four things: An old man, a sick man, a dead man and a Mendicant, who had devoted his days to meditation, doing good and seeking Freedom from Suffering. So the dead man alone was not what caused him to leave. But he realised in seeing the corpse, that 'nobody gets out alive'...

    So what to do to deepen this understanding of death and impermanence in my life? Also how to arise the determination to put the effort needed to realize ultimate truth? Thanks.

    Come to terms with the fact that you are dying, all these questions are a waste of time, your constant ponderings are pointless, and you should ACT, not ASK.

    misecmisc1
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,
    Even though I theoretically understand that I may die, but this understanding remains as a thing I know in my brain, but unless I deliberately think about it this thing does not even come to my mind. How to deepen this understanding?

    Study & meditate on Impermanence

    Moreover, the urge to know what is the ultimate truth does not even come to my mind. Even when I theoretically think that I may die, then the next thought comes as so what - even question like where I will go after my death does not come to my mind. So how was it that Siddhartha saw one dead body in his life and it moved him internally so deeply that he decided to renounce everything in his life by leaving his palace and going alone to a forest to become a saint.
    So what to do to deepen this understanding of death and impermanence in my life?

    Continue studying & meditating on Impermanence

    Also how to arise the determination to put the effort needed to realize ultimate truth? >Thanks.

    If one is happy being miserable then one does not need to do anything...
    However if one is not happy being miserable then this determination should arise naturally......and one will deepen one's meditation on impermanence...

    In a nutshell @misecmisc1 whatever it is you are experiencing right this moment will pass...and why will it pass ??? .... "Ehipassiko" by meditating on impermanence

    Some food for thought

    personmisecmisc1Kundo
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Listening to this meditation over and over again may help too

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    Listening to this meditation over and over again may help too

    In all likelihood, to keep asking questions over and over again...
    Death and impermanence are concepts to be ACCEPTED, not understood.
    Man has grappled with both concepts for ages and not emerged much wiser for that.
    Die you will, and no previous knowledge will sweeten the pill for you when the moment comes.

    I have lost many beloved ones down the years, including a baby son, and nothing I learned has helped me come to terms with the grief, other than the healing power of time.

    Bunks
  • I think even if you have a near death experience if you then come to get a clean bill of health your "sense of immortality" returns in that you think of other things. It's not necessarily a bad thing not to think of death. I think it's nuanced in that it can be good to think of it but also no sense in worrying too much.

    Shoshinmisecmisc1
  • @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,
    Even though I theoretically understand that I may die, but this understanding remains as a thing I know in my brain, but unless I deliberately think about it this thing does not even come to my mind. How to deepen this understanding? Moreover, the urge to know what is the ultimate truth does not even come to my mind. Even when I theoretically think that I may die, then the next thought comes as so what - even question like where I will go after my death does not come to my mind. So how was it that Siddhartha saw one dead body in his life and it moved him internally so deeply that he decided to renounce everything in his life by leaving his palace and going alone to a forest to become a saint.
    So what to do to deepen this understanding of death and impermanence in my life? Also how to arise the determination to put the effort needed to realize ultimate truth? Thanks.

    Death for most is just an idea for no one has actually died and lived to tell. Those who have lots of unfinished business will fear death. Even those who experienced near deaths will say that they have some unfinished business.

    The awakened ones don't cling to life nor do they wish for death.

    There are no painful mental states, chieftain,
    in one without longing.
    In one whose fetters are ended,
    all fears are overcome.
    With the ending of [craving]
    the guide to becoming,
    when phenomena are seen
    for what they are,
    then just as in the laying down of a burden,
    there's no fear in death.

    I've lived well the holy life,
    well-developed the path.
    Death holds no fear for me.
    It's like the end of a disease.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thag/thag.16.01.than.html

    misecmisc1Bunks
  • GuiGui Veteran

  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    in my fortys now. i do think about mortality.

    i do agree with this spiritual genious --way back --on oprah who is now passed away at a young age said something like ,im not afraid of death,im afraid of the pain.so honest and so true ....it spoke to me still this day.

    dharma practice helps us see clearly and prioritize our life.and hopefully an atitude of gratitude.

    and humor.sometimes i say, im going to die,but not today.

    live long and prosper.

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    I enjoyed reading the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche a few years back and intend to read it again soon. It approaches this subject and helps you prepare for what happens when you die. It is in the Tibetan tradition and explains the post-dying bardo states which you may or may not subscribe to, I’m open to the idea myself however it’s well worth a read whatever your tradition.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Lee82 said:
    I enjoyed reading the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche a few years back and intend to read it again soon. It approaches this subject and helps you prepare for what happens when you die. It is in the Tibetan tradition and explains the post-dying bardo states which you may or may not subscribe to, I’m open to the idea myself however it’s well worth a read whatever your tradition.

    While I think the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is lovely and very good, lately I’ve been comparing it to NDE experiences and wondering whether it may not be rather outdated. After all who says that dying experiences today are the same as they were 1200 years ago when Buddhism came to Tibet and started intermingling with Bon. If you read current writings by Raymond Moody, perhaps there is a more modern way of dying which does not involve dieties.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Hi, @misecmisc1 .

    You're now 3 days closer to dying than you were when you began this thread (as we all are....).

    ....Has this realisation sunk in yet?

    How have these three days been spent?
    What have you done?
    How have you progressed?

    How does it feel to know this for sure?

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran

    Frequently, people soil themselves when they die. That fact disturbed me for a while when I thought about it for length one day. It's such an undeniable and unpleasant assurance that this flesh is done, the blood stops moving, the breath stops flowing, the bowels empty, because the sphincters that hold in your fecal matter have no strength.

    The brain is active for a long time after death though, so it is likely that in some way, you will feel your body die. Your brain cells will be the last cells to run out of energy.

    I think if you think hard and long enough about what it will feel like to die, to become very cold, to shit yourself, to no longer move, I think that there will be something in there that you will find suitably disturbing.

    I still find it gross that we shit ourselves when we die. I am not eager to shit myself. It doesn't keep me up late at night worrying, but I'm certainly not looking forward to it.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    You could ask that while dying you are kept in adult diapers if it worries you?

    VimalajātiKundo
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome said:
    You could ask that while dying you are kept in adult diapers if it worries you?

    They would need changing far too frequently for the person's comfort. It's not always fecal matter, either. Some of the body's fluids (digestive, lubricant) are excreted this way.

    The person merits as much respect and as little invasive disturbance as possible.
    But their comfort is of primary importance...

    https://www.kchospice.org/family/caregiver-tips/when-death-nears/

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    @Vimalajāti said:
    Frequently, people soil themselves when they die. That fact disturbed me for a while when I thought about it for length one day. It's such an undeniable and unpleasant assurance that this flesh is done, the blood stops moving, the breath stops flowing, the bowels empty, because the sphincters that hold in your fecal matter have no strength.

    The brain is active for a long time after death though, so it is likely that in some way, you will feel your body die. Your brain cells will be the last cells to run out of energy.

    I think if you think hard and long enough about what it will feel like to die, to become very cold, to shit yourself, to no longer move, I think that there will be something in there that you will find suitably disturbing.

    I still find it gross that we shit ourselves when we die. I am not eager to shit myself. It doesn't keep me up late at night worrying, but I'm certainly not looking forward to it.

    Shit happens.

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Hozan said:
    Shit happens.

    It seems so... when you come into this world you are a crying, pooping and peeing little human being, and when we go out of it we are little different, it seems.

    HozanBunks
  • CarlitaCarlita Bastian please! Save us! United States Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,
    Even though I theoretically understand that I may die, but this understanding remains as a thing I know in my brain, but unless I deliberately think about it this thing does not even come to my mind. How to deepen this understanding? Moreover, the urge to know what is the ultimate truth does not even come to my mind. Even when I theoretically think that I may die, then the next thought comes as so what - even question like where I will go after my death does not come to my mind. So how was it that Siddhartha saw one dead body in his life and it moved him internally so deeply that he decided to renounce everything in his life by leaving his palace and going alone to a forest to become a saint.
    So what to do to deepen this understanding of death and impermanence in my life? Also how to arise the determination to put the effort needed to realize ultimate truth? Thanks.

    That is so odd. I asked the same questions. My aunt/friend passed away this year Jan; so, that got me thinking. The ultimate truth and purpose doesnt come to mind even though my culture is riddled with purpose and sense of acheivement. Retirement. Finishing education. and so forth.

    I started going through my values. I took out things I want to accomplish and replace them what I want to be. I tossed the To Do list and created To Experience list (literally). So, if I were in The Buddha's position, I guess that experience would be a lesson without needing to accomplish clarity and looking forward to understanding. I also think writing down what you feel/think/experience can help put life into perspective. Learn about life to know death. Know death to learn about life.

    There is a practice called Stages of the Path https://www.shambhala.com/guidedmeditationsonthestagesofthepath/ In Tibetan Buddhism. Each stage has their own topics. One stage is called Imaging our Death. Its a guided meditation that goes through what The Budha talks about when describing the frailties of the human body one by one.

    I guess meditating on death helps.

    Another technique is to write what you want if you had one month, one week, one day etc to live. Learning about death could help with learning what you value most.

    Also, what I did was simplify my environment (minimalism). I live alone in a one room apartment. That helps me focus on what I need vs what I want.

    The Buddha talked a lot about actions and through our actions comes understanding (and meditation).

    But, yeah, I asked the same questions. I know there is a more specific way to experience it but I cant put my finger on it.

  • CarlitaCarlita Bastian please! Save us! United States Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Let’s not be too hard on him, any member of our virtual sangha can sometimes ask a few questions more than is pertinent... perhaps he is having difficulty absorbing it.

    @misecmisc1 said:
    So that is why I am asking how to get this idea that - I may die - in my heart and not just in my brain? I think if this idea comes in my heart as a thing I really know then may be it can help in rising of the question that - where will I go after my death - and then may be the inquiry regarding whether I am my body or not - can become a more important question for me. Currently even though if I try to think that - I may die - then also no further question arises in my mind, in a way my mind says - so what - and even this question does not arise in me that - am I my body or not? Thanks.

    I think to really bring it home to you the only thing that would work would be a close encounter with death, like a near-miss car accident that you can walk away from.

    Or you can try meditating in depth on the Tibetan nine-point meditation on death:

    The first Root: Death is certain.
    1. No being has ever escaped death [unless one becomes enlightened].
    2. I am constantly becoming closer to death.
    3. There is not much time to act.

    The second Root: The time of death is uncertain.
    4. The lifespan of human beings is not fixed.
    5. More conditions endanger life than support it.
    6. This body is extremely fragile.

    The third Root: Nothing can help at the time of death, except spiritual practice.
    7. Wealth can’t help.
    8. Friends and relatives can’t help.
    9. Your body can’t help.

    The conclusion being: I must practice the dharma diligently.

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,
    Even though I theoretically understand that I may die, but this understanding remains as a thing I know in my brain, but unless I deliberately think about it this thing does not even come to my mind. How to deepen this understanding? Moreover, the urge to know what is the ultimate truth does not even come to my mind. Even when I theoretically think that I may die, then the next thought comes as so what - even question like where I will go after my death does not come to my mind. So how was it that Siddhartha saw one dead body in his life and it moved him internally so deeply that he decided to renounce everything in his life by leaving his palace and going alone to a forest to become a saint.
    So what to do to deepen this understanding of death and impermanence in my life? Also how to arise the determination to put the effort needed to realize ultimate truth? Thanks.

    By the way, there isnt anything wrong with asking questions. The Buddha didnt "just" become enlightened. He questioned everything. Since we are not Buddhas, instead of trying to learn from his result and toss the process of getting there. Instead, focus on the process and experience in getting there without looking at the result. So, death questions are cool. When we think we know, thats where ego coms in. The Buddha got rid of all that. We are a work in progress.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    It's not so much the question that is the issue, in this case.

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