A Meditation on Death: Right or Wrong View?

Thank you friends for looking…everyday as I wander through my life I am frequently aware of the passing of time which brings me closer to the end of this incarnation. This would seem to coincide with the concept of all things being dependent-arising. This awareness is not a sadness but a resolve to remain fully present. Is this awareness of immortality the right view or the wrong view? And if it is right view is there a meditation on death? I am honored to own a copy of the Dalai Lama’s “Advice on Dying and Living a Happy Life” narrated by Jeffrey Hopkins. This very vivid description of the process of dying delineates the need for dying a good death. Is meditating on the temporal nature of life the right way to meditate?

As always I am full of gratitude for your collective wisdom. Namaste

As you’re aware Sutta evidence is the best way to learn! specially the earliest ones from the four main nikayas,agamas etc. I hope you enjoy maximum benefitsof being a sutta central member by referring the suttas. :slight_smile:

Aṅguttara Nikāya
6. Book of the Sixes
19. Mindfulness of Death (1)

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying at Nadika, in the Brick Hall. There he addressed the monks, “Monks!”

“Yes, lord,” the monks replied.

The Blessed One said, “Mindfulness of death, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit & great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end. Therefore you should develop mindfulness of death.”

When this was said, a certain monk addressed the Blessed One, “I already develop mindfulness of death.”

“And how do you develop mindfulness of death?”

“I think, ‘O, that I might live for a day & night, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ This is how I develop mindfulness of death.”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, already develop mindfulness of death.”

“And how do you develop mindfulness of death?”

“I think, ‘O, that I might live for a day, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ This is how I develop mindfulness of death.”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, develop mindfulness of death.” … “I think, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to eat a meal, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ …”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, develop mindfulness of death.” … “I think, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ …”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, develop mindfulness of death.” … “I think, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ …”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, develop mindfulness of death.” … “I think, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ This is how I develop mindfulness of death.”

When this was said, the Blessed One addressed the monks. “Whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, ‘O, that I might live for a day & night… for a day… for the interval that it takes to eat a meal… for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal’—they are said to dwell heedlessly. They develop mindfulness of death slowly for the sake of ending the effluents.

“But whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food… for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal’—they are said to dwell heedfully. They develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.

“Therefore you should train yourselves: ‘We will dwell heedfully. We will develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.’ That is how you should train yourselves.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

Aṅguttara Nikāya
6. Book of the Sixes
20. Mindfulness of Death (2)

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying at Nadika, in the Brick Hall. There he addressed the monks, “Monks, mindfulness of death—when developed & pursued—is of great fruit & great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end. And how is mindfulness of death developed & pursued so that it is of great fruit & great benefit, gains a footing in the Deathless, and has the Deathless as its final end?

“There is the case where a monk, as day departs and night returns, reflects: ‘Many are the [possible] causes of my death. A snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, a centipede might bite me. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. Stumbling, I might fall; my food, digested, might trouble me; my bile might be provoked, my phlegm… piercing wind forces [in the body] might be provoked. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me.’ Then the monk should investigate: ‘Are there any evil, unskillful mental qualities unabandoned by me that would be an obstruction for me were I to die in the night?’ If, on reflecting, he realizes that there are evil, unskillful mental qualities unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die in the night, then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head, in the same way the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. But if, on reflecting, he realizes that there are no evil, unskillful mental qualities unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die in the night, then for that very reason he should dwell in joy & rapture, training himself day & night in skillful qualities.

“Further, there is the case where a monk, as night departs and day returns, reflects: ‘Many are the [possible] causes of my death. A snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, a centipede might bite me. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. Stumbling, I might fall; my food, digested, might trouble me; my bile might be provoked, my phlegm… piercing wind forces [in the body] might be provoked. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me.’ Then the monk should investigate: ‘Are there any evil, unskillful mental qualities unabandoned by me that would be an obstruction for me were I to die during the day?’ If, on reflecting, he realizes that there are evil, unskillful mental qualities unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die during the day, then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head, in the same way the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. But if, on reflecting, he realizes that there are no evil, unskillful mental qualities unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die during the day, then for that very reason he should dwell in joy & rapture, training himself day & night in skillful qualities.

“This, monks, is how mindfulness of death is developed & pursued so that it is of great fruit & great benefit, gains a footing in the Deathless, and has the Deathless as its final end.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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Thank you so much, honored teacher. Perhaps I have been lazy in my study of the Dhamma, and have enjoyed a personal connection which is less instructive than the study of nikayas and agamas. I will begin anew in earnest to find out what those words mean. lol

Peace!

do you maybe mean mortality?

the wrong view would be regarding death as total annihilation with no subsequent continuity

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Yes thanks. I did intend to say mortality. Didn’t make sense otherwise. Gotta do a better job of spell checking.