SuttaCentral

Drawing each breath as if it were the last


#1

Hi all, can anyone point the Dutta in which the Buddha (or one of his disciples) teaches we should draw each breath as if it were the last (i.e. mindful of reality and imminence of death)?

:anjal:


#2

You might be looking for the Paṭhamamaraṇassati-sutta (at AN 6.19), the Discourse on Mindfulness of Death.

As to the mendicants who develop mindfulness of death by wishing to live for a day and night … or to live for a day … or to live as long as it takes to eat a meal of alms-food … or to live as long as it takes to chew and swallow four or five mouthfuls—these are called mendicants who live negligently. They slackly develop mindfulness of death for the ending of defilements.

But as to the mendicants who develop mindfulness of death by wishing to live as long as it takes to chew and swallow a single mouthful … or to live as long as it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out—these are called mendicants who live diligently. They keenly develop mindfulness of death for the ending of defilements

Its full parallel 增壹阿含經 (at EĀ 40.8) explicitly talks about the time interval between an out-breath and in-breath. A translation and discussion of EĀ 40.8, and more broadly, of mindfulness of death, is given in Ven Anālayo’s Mindfully Facing Disease and Death (2016), pp. 201ff.

"If a monastic gives attention to the perception of death, collecting his mindfulness in front, with a mind that is unshaken, being mindful of the exhalation and the inhalation for the time it takes them to go out and return, and during that period he gives attention to the seven awakening factors, that would indeed be of much benefit [to him] in the Tathāgata’s teaching.

"This is because all formations are entirely empty, they all become appeased, they rise and cease, they are all [like] a magical illusion that is without any true essence.

“Therefore, monastics, you should give attention to the perception of death in the interval between an out-breath and an in-breath, so that you will be liberated from birth, old age, disease, death, grief, worry, pain, and vexation. In this way, monastics, should you train yourselves.”

[excerpt; footnotes have been omitted]

The following remark by Anālayo seems on point:

The central message conveyed in these two discourses as well as in the Ekottarika-āgama version translated above is that recollection of death needs to be applied directly to the present moment.


#3

Thanks @Robbie