Death contemplation

The key, according to few suttas that directly address maraṇassati, is that death needs to be recollected in a way that keeps it very close to the immediate experience. Not so much that it needs to be obsessed over, but that it should not merely be utilized to come to terms with death as an inevitability “in life”, as there is no entitlement to even the next out-breath. That impersonal and unforgiving nature is what can be used to generate dispassion, in the sense that, how could I rightfully take up any of this as mine when there is no assurance to even a moment more of it.

In addition to suttas about mindfulness of death, take a look at those about perception of death, which may help add some depth to your contemplations and recollections.

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The person you were replying to seems to have the idea that the SN/SA is the only true teachings of the Buddha. It’s a fringe theory.

I’m not sure if sutta refrences have been included yet in this thread. (ETA: Sorry, didn’t see SDC’s)If not, here are some:

perception of death (maraṇasañña)
mindfulness of death (maraṇassati)

My apologies for the typo. Spell checking is great when it works but sometime it can go a little off-track. I am also terrible at proof-reading my own text.


We all make these mistakes so not to worry :slightly_smiling_face:

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According to right view essentially based on SN/SA suttas, I think death, or dukkha contemplation should be:

Death (or dukkha) is not mine, I am not death (dukkha), death (dukkha) is not my self.

Death (dukkha), being not real, arises by causal condition (nidāna); having arisen it ceases completely by causal condition. It is a result of previous action, but there is no doer (not-self, anatta).

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Hi thomaslaw, which sutta in SN or SA that you refer to about ?could you share the sutta / sutra ?

The following pages (SA 335, and others) could be relevant to your request, but you might need to go further from there in the book on the SN/SA core teachings:

Pages 95-6 from The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism Choong Mun-keat 2000.pdf (155.3 KB)
Pages 58-9 from The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism Choong Mun-keat 2000.pdf (170.8 KB)

Hope these help.

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Bhante, how’s it going? I hope you’re well :anjal:

I just thought I’d ask your opinion as you seem to be the unofficial death contemplation officionado (at least in my view :slight_smile:)

I have been seriously thinking/contemplating about death lately, and I know this might sound silly but I can’t help thinking about death as like a holiday or a break if you will.

Because presumably when one dies, you spend some time in the antarabhava (sorry folks, I probably spelt that wrong) and you have like a (real) holiday/break were you don’t have to worry about doing the grocery shopping, or needing to wash yourself (because you don’t have a solid body) or eating, going to the toilet, cooking meals, cleaning the apartment, going to work etc.

You’re just there in this in-between realm, before you ‘jump into’ your next life.

Any thoughts on this Bhante? Serious question :anjal:


Could you also consider to donate blood or plasma to save life?

I do it regularly.

I would, thanks for the suggestion.

I have never said “the SN/SA is the only true teachings of the Buddha”.

But I certainly consider Buddha Dhamma is essentially found in the major collection of the SN/SA suttas.

That is, the major collection of the Pali SN and its Chinese counterpart SA is mainly about knowing (jānāti) and seeing (passati) the four noble truths, the notion of anicca, dukkha, anatta (or anicca, dukkha, suñña, anatta), and the middle way, which all are the core teachings of Early Buddhism. E.g. see the following book by Choong Mun-keat:

The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism: A Comparative Study Based on the Sūtrāṅga portion of the Pāli Saṃyutta-Nikāya and the Chinese Saṃyuktāgama (Series: Beitrage zur Indologie Band 32; Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2000).

I also consider, according to Ven. YinShun, SN/SA is an early compilation, whose structure had its its origin in the first Buddhist council. SN/SA was the foundation of the four principal Nikayas/Agamas in the formation of EBTs, although the extant four Nikayas/Agamas are sectarian texts.

From the study:

The present study deals with SN and SA, one of the four extant Nikayas/ Agamas. SN is preserved intact in Pali, whereas SA was translated into Chinese from a now lost Sanskrit text by a monk named Gunabhadra between 435-445 AD

Study is comparing apple with orange. 800 years of gap and it is from lost sankrit text. It is only 1 nikaya of comparison.

One major thing also:
The paper is submitted as a doctoral studies. It is basically used for material purpose (a degree to earn money in future), totally not for seeking the truth of true dhamma.

You consider “a doctoral studies” is entirely for material purpose, not for seeking knowledge in the field of study. I have to disagree with you.

You do regularly and consistently dismiss anything that’s not found in the SN/SA, both here and on DhammaWheel.


Is there any scriptural basis for mindfulness of death being used as a primary meditation practice to enter Jhana?

This is important for comparative textual studies in EBTs.

You should be able to respond this question.

I disagree that dismissing the other Nikayas is important for EBT studies.

You should be able to respond this question.

Why? I have my own view, but I’m interested in hearing others here.

This is not just about “dismissing” or “important” in comparative textual studies in EBTs.

So, what is your view on that?