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I’ve come across these several times, but I don’t think I’ve posted them here before. They’re insightful, and always bring me back to an appreciation of the current moment, so I thought it might be nice to share them. It’s basically a series of nine short points to contemplate, about the subject of death. They were thought up by the Indian teacher Atisha, who lived in Tibet during the eleventh century.
1. All of us will die sooner or later
2. Your life span is decreasing continuously
3. Death will come whether you are prepared or not
4. Your life span is not fixed
5. Death has many causes
6. Your body is fragile and vulnerable
7. Your loved ones cannot keep you from death
8. Your material possessions cannot help you when death comes
9. Your body cannot help you when death comes
The first three points are about the inevitability of death, the second three about the uncertainty of when it will arrive, and the third three about the fact that nothing can aid you when it does come. All in all it is a sobering meditation, which points you at the preciousness of your current human life and what you still want to do with it.
In Tibetan Buddhism there is a slightly modified version which is also called the ‘nine point meditation on death’. It emphasises more the fact that spiritual practice can help with death, and so uses the contemplation as a motivation. But I like to return to this form every so often because it has a certain purity.