So, to further increase the chances of a good death, family members or close friends
could make preparations to create circumstances conducive to arousing wholesome neardeath
kamma. Some suggestions follow.
·Impress on the dying person that death is a natural phenomenon that everyone has to
go through and that it can be accepted without fear or resistance.
·Persuade and help the dying person to let go of all attachments to her beloved ones
and possessions, grudges against anyone, and remorse over anything that has or has not
been done. To this end, the dying person’s beloved ones should be told not to wail and
lament at her deathbed, for this may consolidate her attachments or grief.
·Provide the dying person with the opportunity to perform a good deed, e.g. listening
to Pàli chanting if he understands or appreciates it, listening to Dhamma talks, making a
donation on his behalf, encouraging him to mentally recite the Three Refuges
continuously as a mantra, or to engage in any wholesome meditation practice he is most
·Remind the dying person of her past meritorious deeds. One could keep a special
notebook where the dates and nature of significant meritorious deeds one has
performed are recorded. Someone could read the list to the dying one.
·Gather Dhamma friends around the dying person and radiate loving-kindness to him,
thinking: “May you be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and
may you look after yourself with ease.”
Despite having lived an unethical and irreligious life, one could also die well and live
well in the next life if such fortuitous circumstances bring about a wholesome near-death
kamma. But of course, if you want the best assurance for a favourable hereafter, try to do
the utmost: live a morally upright and spiritually fulfilling life and associate with good
Dhamma friends who will be able to help create conditions conducive to a good death.
t is appropriate to conclude this essay by giving thought to what we should do when we visit a terminally ill patient. Our normal attitude is one of sadness and pity, but Buddhism holds that it is wrong to entertain negative thoughts at such a moment. It is my opinion that it would be helpful to the terminally ill patient, and to any patient for that matter, if we radiate thoughts of metta, loving kindness to him. As the dying person's mind may be working at this crucial hour, unencumbered by the limitations imposed by the physical sense faculties, it is possible that the person's mind will be sensitive and receptive to the spiritual thought waves of those around him. If negative thought waves are generated by grief and lamentation the dying person may be adversely affected. But if gentle thoughts of love and kindness are extended, such thoughts may function as a subtle mental balm that allays the distress and anxiety brought on by the approach of death and envelops the dying person's mind in a warm protective cloak of consoling peace.
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