If You Were To Die Tomorrow…

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    • #14888
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      Have you strived hard enough to secure a good rebirth, or better still, attain at least a Sotāpanna?

      Korean actor died of cardiac arrest at age 33

      Came across the above news and the likelihood of us dying a sudden death is very real. It does not happen only to old people. It can happen to anyone. It led me to contemplate on why striving for higher magga phala is so crucial in this life time while we still can. Even though a Sotāpanna is said to have at most 7 more existences before attaining final liberation, and that perditions will be void for him, but still he would be subjected to bad kamma vipaka. Venerable Angulimala strived hard to attain arahanthood despite killing close to a thousand people. If he had attained a sotāpanna instead of arahanthood, I am quite sure he would have to suffer short life and other ill-fated events in subsequent rebirths. The Buddha guaranteed that a Sotāpanna will not be reborn into the woeful states but He did not say that a Sotāpanna would be so blessed as to avoid bad kamma vipaka.

    • #14895
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Absolutely, we don’t have time nor energy to lose with anything else other than our path; every exertion plays and will will play a role.

    • #14932
      Akvan
      Participant

      Hi Johnny,

      A very relevant sutta that discusses this explicitly is the Pathama Marana Sati Sutta.

      AN6.19 – https://suttacentral.net/an6.19/en/thanissaro

    • #14938
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      Thanks for the sutta reference, Akvan. Indeed, death lies in between our breaths. Unfortunately, death is not a welcomed topic in asian superstitious culture. Regardless of whether we mention about death or not, we are going to die one day. Thus, I make an effort to arouse this thought the very first thing I wake up every morning…”I did not die in my sleep last night. Today is another day to make merit and practise the path.”

    • #15066
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Dear all,

      I’d like to get your opinion on this question: Can practicing death mindfulness lead to the sotapanna stage?

      I haven’t seen the subject of death mindfulness practice on the puredhamma.net pages, but of course I have not exhausted the site. Elsewhere, I read the story about the weaver’s daughter, and that story gave me the impression that keeping death awareness can take one to the sotapanna stage.

      http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/busc/busc13.htm

      Thank you.

    • #15080
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Hi cubibobi,

      Yes.But it will be more effective if you put it together with a good understanding of the rebirth process plus Thilakhanna bhavana. In fact the latter can include death bhavana. Whatever the subject, everything in PureDhamma is connected, it’s like a circle.
      Imo…

    • #15089
      Akvan
      Participant

      Hi Cubibobi,

      Practicing mindfulness of death is commonly taken to mean being aware and mindful that one will die for certain, and that one doesn’t know when this time will come. Being aware or mindful of this by itself, will not lead one to the sotapanna stage. I guess every human being knows that he will die one day and that too is being mindful to a certain degree.

      However mindfulness of death in Buddha Dhamma refers to being mindful that one may die anytime and therefore striving to attain a magga pala or to a attain arahanthhood, without procrastinating. This is explained in maranasati sutta’s; https://suttacentral.net/an6.19/en/thanissaro

      Even from the reference of the Dhammapada you provided it can be deduced that practicing the mindfulness of death by itself will not directly lead to the sotapanna stage.

      “This girl from the day when she heard my exposition of the doctrine has practised reflection on death for three years. I will now go there and ask the girl four questions; and when she explains them I will express approval at each of the four points, and will utter the verse. By means of the verse she will be established in the fruit of the First Path (entering the stream), and through her the teaching will be profitable to many.”

      Here it can be seen that it is after hearing the dhamma that the girl will attain the sotapanna stage.

    • #15108
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Hi Akvan,

      In thinking that mindfulness of death can lead to the sotapanna stage (according to this Dhamapada story), my thought process was like:

      For three years, the girl did mindfulness of death as a “formal meditation”, and that made her mind ripe till the point where it took a “push” from the Buddha to the first magga phala. And that “push” from the Buddha (the 4 questions) was also related to death awareness. Of course, it must be assumed that she led a moral life in addition to her “formal meditation”.

      Whether or not it leads to the first magga phala, I do believe this meditation can be greatly beneficial, and I’d like to try it. Has anyone here attempted to do this at the “granular” level prescribed here: “… 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 …”?

      I can see that it’s possible to practice “swallowing one morsel of food” while eating, especially if I’m eating by myself.

      For “the interval that it takes to breathe…”, it probably has to be during a formal sitting. Doing this throughout the day is a bit “disruptive” to the task at hand. Maybe we can “lengthen” the practice somewhat, such as:

      If we have to read a lot in our work life, perhaps it can be “the interval it takes to finish this paragraph”. Or “the interval it takes to drive to work/home”, etc.

      I’m grateful for any input from someone who does this practice regularly.

      Best,
      Lang

      • #15111
        Embodied
        Spectator

        “For “the interval that it takes to breathe…”, it probably has to be during a formal sitting.” – You might be right.
        I practiced it for a while when i went through Kashmir Shaivism. By the way: Sadhguru says that Buddhism and Shaivism are alike…weird isn’t it ?

        Back to our subject: Shaivas say that the Paramasiva dwells in that pause between the end of exhaling and the beginning of inhaling.We of course we say differently: that which might dwell there is the…Deathless ? Just asking.
        Such focalisation > absorption method should be practiced only via formal sessions.It seems easy but it’s not, because of the subtlety of the passage. Inhaling: rise, Exhaling: fall (anicca, thus…); the interval : the deathless?

        An historical aside/curiosity not directly related to your quest :alot of Indian/Asian meditation techniques it’s very difficult to know who started doing what when.

        The info above i’m conveying it to you as a curiosity; for serious practice you should , as Lal advised , focus on Thilakhanna, which contains , i’m convinced, the essence of true dhamma.

    • #15109
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hi Lang,

      You said, “I can see that it’s possible to practice “swallowing one morsel of food” while eating, especially if I’m eating by myself..”

      You should seriously think about how that is going to remove defilements from one’s mid.

      I have written many posts discussing why concentrating on breathing in and out cannot remove defilements. Is this any different from that?

      The first thing to do is to find the Tipitaka reference and see what it says. It is very dangerous to just follow someone’s instructions on how to meditate.

      I think the true idea is to contemplate on the fact that death can come anytime, even while eating. So, one should really strive to do real vipassana (contemplate on Tilakkhana) at every possible moment.

    • #15110
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Dear Lal,

      Forgive me for shortening things. This series of post is about death awareness based on this link:

      https://suttacentral.net/an6.19/en/thanissaro

      When I said practicing “swallowing one morsel of food”, I meant keeping the thought that “I may live for just the interval of swallowing one morsel of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions”. Similarly, “I may live for just the interval of breathing out without breathing in”, etc. At least that’s how I interpret the practice to be from the link above.

      I did not mean being mindful of the act of swallowing, or of breathing. If my interpretation of the death awareness practice is correct, I’d really like to get your take on this question: Can this practice help remove defilements? Or does it just provide motivation for practice?

      In responding to the original post in this series, I mentioned the story of the weaver’s daughter, and my impression was that death awareness practice does remove defilements.

      http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/busc/busc13.htm

      Best,
      Lang

      • #15114
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        If someone has wrong view, and that he knows he is going to die tomorrow but still has deep hatred for someone, this person might still want to seek revenge before death. Also, this person might still have a strong attachment for someone and yearns to be with them in their last moments. So, death awareness alone can cut both ways. It conveys a sense of urgency to the practitioner to quickly cultivate others things leading to Sotāpanna or higher magga phala. But if cultivated with wrong view, the consequence is disastrous.

    • #15113
      Lal
      Keymaster

      It needs some explanation. I will write a post on it. Could take several days.

    • #15172
      Lal
      Keymaster
    • #15174
      y not
      Participant

      Johnny:

      ‘….Also, this person might still have a strong attachment for someone and yearns to be with them in their last moments’ ‘This person’who has wrong views. What about a person who does not have wrong views? Will THIS person’s attachment and yearning to be with them in his last moments still be a hindrance?

      I ask the question even so that Lal may incorporate an answer to it in the upcoming post if he sees fit.

      y not

      • #15178
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        Hi y not,

        A person with no wrong view would not even be attached to their loved ones during his last moments. This person who still has attachment for his loved ones during his last moments must be someone who still has wrong view. How can this person who still has attachment for his loved ones liberate himself from Kama Loka? Bonds of kinship are harder than metal ones.

    • #15177
      y not
      Participant

      Lal

      ‘I ask the question even so that Lal may incorporate an answer to it in the upcoming post if he sees fit.’

      It seems I am 9 minutes late.!

      y not

    • #15186
      Lal
      Keymaster

      y not said: “This person’who has wrong views. What about a person who does not have wrong views? Will THIS person’s attachment and yearning to be with them in his last moments still be a hindrance?”

      A person with no wrong views will not yearn to be with them.

      Always think about whether a dasa akusala involved (and which one it is) in the mind of the person in question. That is the easiest way to figure out.

    • #15188
      cubibobi
      Participant

      OMG what an illuminating post. Thank you!

      Up to now I have known only of the mundane versions of the 4 “anussati”, all the while misunderstanding asubhanussati as foulness of the body. Also, I still have an ingrained habit of taking sati to be “mere mindfulness”, not as a mindset with tilakkana in the background.

      This is after years and years of reading books that describe these terms only in this way. A lot of relearning to do!

      Lang

    • #15193
      y not
      Participant

      Lal:

      This is not easy for me .

      Which one of the dasa akusala is it then when one has removed miccha ditthi and still has strong attachment to some one without greed or lust and with Metta there as well? Is it to say that even when the love is pure it is an akusala?

      A satopanna or Sakadagami has removed miccha ditthi but still has kama, so Johnny’s ‘How can this person who still has attachment for his loved ones liberate himself from Kama Loka? Bonds of kinship are harder than metal ones.’, is granted, but if one has removed the first three samyojanas, one would still be tied to the Kama Loka, but to those realms above the human one. Do I get this right? (Johnny is still right in his overall statement).

      This leads into more questions, but I am finding it hard to formulate them and , at any rate, I would not need to put them if I have got it all wrong even so far.

      y not

    • #15194
      Lal
      Keymaster

      @y not:
      There are many levels of micca ditthi or wrong views.

      1. The 10 types of micca ditthi must be removed to become a Sotapanna Anugami, i.e., to be able to comprehend Tilakkhana.
      2. At that point, one still has micca ditthi (wrong views) because one still has not grasped the Three Characteristics of Nature, i.e, Tilakkhana.

      3. The Tilakkhana are comprehended in stages of Nibbana, starting with the Sotapanna stage. Thus, one gets rid of all wrong views only at Arahanthood.

      4. Kama raga comes under kamaccanda. See the post on dasa akualsa.: “Ten Immoral Actions (Dasa Akusala)“.

      The main menu at the top of the site is pretty good. But if you are just using a phone, use the “Search” box on the top to find relevant posts or scan through “Pure Dhamma – Sitemap“.

    • #15195
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Is it possible to love of a pure love without becoming attached ? If it is then love cannot be considered an akusala.
      Let alone universal love or Arya Metta.

    • #15196
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      A Sotāpanna or Sakadagami who still has attachment for his loved ones, will either return as a deva or human. If return as human, might become a family member of their loved ones. e.g grandson or granddaughter of so-and-so. If this person did not at least attain Sotāpanna, and that he has exhausted his human bhava, and he has grasped a bad nimitta during the last moments of death, because he still has strong attachment for this loved ones, most probably he will come back as a pet or pest, or even as a hungry ghost loitering in the house waiting for his loved ones to transfer merits to him. One can be very well-learned in Dhamma, but at the end of the day, how much liberation one can attain is still determined by how much defilements one has removed. If a person who learns Dhamma but does not put it into practice, then Dhamma to him is just another worldly knowledge (can even be dangerous for him if he becomes haughty due to wrong view). For someone who is seriously on the path, one should be prepared to mentally detach oneself from his loved ones. I recalled a bhante relating a story of his fellow monk who has ordained not long before his mother visited him. The mother, who still has strong attachment for his son, called the bhante by his name. The bhante told his mother, “lay follower, please address me as bhante”. The mother could not take it and cried so sadly. It might appear very cruel to even treat someone who has given birth to us this way. But no choice. The risk in staying in sansara is too much and the stakes are too high. We should not defer our spiritual practice for anyone’s sake. But that does not imply we should drop our responsibilities to take care of our loved ones if we are obligated to.

    • #15197
      Lal
      Keymaster

      @Embodied:
      Love is a complex word. It can have sexual connotations or just caring for another person, like one’s children. So, kammic effects always depends on the context.

      Learn to use Pali words, so that there will be no confusion.

      Kama is attachment to sensual desires.
      Kamaccanda (kama + icca+ anda) is the worst, being blinded by sense desires and committing immoral acts like rape or sex out-of-marriage. Such acts can lead to birth in apayas.

      Kama raga is the next level, where one may enjoy “accepted” sense pleasures, including sex in marriage. A Sotapanna belongs to this category.

      Kama raga is reduced at the Sakadagami stage and is eliminated at Anagami stage. Then one does not have desire for sex or “tasty stuff”, even though one will still taste things the same way as any other. It is important to realize that forcefully avoiding such sense pleasures DOES NOT make one an Anagami. One just loses the desire when one comprehends the anicca nature better.

      Metta is compassion for all beings, not necessarily for a given person (even though that is fine too). And it has the mundane version (“may all beings be healthy and happy”) and the Ariya version (“may all beings be free of suffering in the rebirth process”). That is a very short description.

      ALWAYS try to learn the basics. Once one understand the basic concept, it is easy to remember. Good knowledge of dasa akusala and the concept of “san” is important. Make use of the links in a given post to read related material, as time permits. The post, “User’s Guide to Pure Dhamma Website” and “Pure Dhamma – Sitemap” could be useful in addition to the “Search box”.

      I just realized that one issue with new people who come to the website is that these days I am writing mostly advanced posts. So, they may not even realize that material in the older posts and sections have some of these explanations.

      These are general remarks that are not directed at Embodied.

      Then again, the question about anussati and anupassana had not been discussed earlier. So, I don’t want to discourage asking questions either. Just make some effort to see whether the answer to the question is already there at the website.

      • #15199
        Embodied
        Spectator

        @Lal,

        “Love is a complex word. It can have sexual connotations” true however in the case of my post there was no sexual connotation.

        Pali words: i already memorised some as tilakhanna (anicca, anatta, dukkha), sansara, sankhara, patica samupaddha,abisankhara, micca ditthi, dasa akusala, asava,sanna, sati and others, but i still have to get into the habit of using them…such will come soon.

        Metta/compassion and/or love: there is some subjectivity to be dealt with here, if i may. Because compassion can be seen as a form of love but a love that doesn’t “tie” us (hopefully) thus compatible with Pure Dhamma.

        I’m acquainted with Ariya Metta.

        Thanks

    • #15201
      y not
      Participant

      Embodied:

      Lal gives the grades as three:
      Kamaccanda (kama + icca+ anda), Kama raga and Metta

      The instance I am refering to lies somewhere between raga and metta and includes both and is connected to what Embodied says by: ..’.however in the case of my post there was no sexual connotation’ Yes, togetherness is there, but not gross sexual passion as we crave it in this material world, but would be quite in place in a higher, finer world,finer in more senses than one. We get the feeling that we had known some one before in a close relationship, and on meeting it is more a recognition than anything else. We ‘know’ that person already.

      ‘Metta/compassion and/or love: there is some subjectivity to be dealt with here, if i may… Because compassion can be seen as a form of love but a love that doesn’t “tie” us (hopefully) thus compatible with Pure Dhamma.’ The ‘tie’ would be compatable with Buddhadhamma if the relationship is one carried to and also probabaly from higher realms(as well as into the human one) IF THE PARTNERS ATTAIN MAGGA PHALA here or elsewhere, and not necessarily at the same time, either. And, as an aside, I have not yet come across passages in the Tipitaka where there is, at the very least, communication or interaction between the dwellers there. But such must be the case, otherwise existence there would be totally subjective, much like the Devachan of Theosophy.

      Y not

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