Death strikes like lightening.

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Aloka
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Death strikes like lightening.

Postby Aloka » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:30 pm

.
.

I was having a discussion with Tiltbillings in the Buddhadasa Bhikku thread and it got swallowed up in the rest of the interaction there, so I've brought it here.

By way of introduction - I'm a Mahayana/Vajrayana practitioner with an interest in the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition.

I probably won't understand Pali words nor can I interact on an academic level with Theravada - so please be gentle with me. :smile:

My comment on the other thread was that at this point in my life I don't have too much interest in either a rebirth/reincarnation position or a no-rebirth position. My wish is to just focus on practice in the present moment and also to do this when death approaches. Otherwise, as a lay practitioner, I'll do my best to follow Lord Buddha's teachings.

Tilt responded :

Milarepa said that one should not be content, death strikes like lightning.


This made me curious, (especially as I'm fond of the songs of Milarepa) and I wondered how this quote should be related to practice.


:anjali:

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:49 pm

You young men and girls assembled here
Do not think that death will saunter to you;
Death comes like lightning.
- Milarepa.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Aloka
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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby Aloka » Thu Jul 16, 2009 7:08 pm

.

So what are you thoughts about this, Tilt?

(Do you happen to know which of Milarepa's songs the quote comes from?)


:anjali:

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:23 pm

Death strikes like lightening



To me its stressing that one should reflect on how death can occur at any time, how dukkha will be there if it occurs to something that there is attachment to. Also to focus on whats important in life



metta
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby cooran » Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:41 pm

Dazzlebling wrote:.

So what are you thoughts about this, Tilt?

(Do you happen to know which of Milarepa's songs the quote comes from?)


:anjali:

Hello Dazzlebling, all,

Hope this helps ~

Sixty Songs of Milarepa Translated by Garma C.C. Chang
Selected and introduced by Bhikkhu Khantipalo


12
"This is indeed very helpful to my mind," commented the physician, "but please preach still further for me on the truth of Karma and the suffering of birth, old age, illness and death, thus enabling me to gain a deeper conviction in Buddhadharma." In response, the Jetsun sang:
Please listen to these words,
Dear friends here assembled.
When you are young and vigorous
You ne’er think of old age coming,
But it approaches slow and sure
Like a seed growing underground.
When you are strong and healthy
You ne’er think of sickness coming,
But it descends with sudden force
Like a stroke of lightning.
When involved in worldly things
You ne’er think of death’s approach
Quick it comes like thunder
Crashing ’round your head.
Sickness, old age and death
Ever meet each other
As do hands and mouth.
Waiting for his prey in ambush,
Yama 14 is ready for his victim,
When disaster catches him.
Sparrows fly in single file. Like them,
Life, Death and Bardo follow one another.
Never apart from you
Are these three ‘visitors’.
Thus thinking, fear you not
Your sinful deeds?
Like strong arrows in ambush waiting,
Rebirth in Hell, as Hungry Ghost, or Beast
Is (the destiny) waiting to catch you.
If once into their traps you fall,
Hard will you find it to escape.
Do you not fear the miseries
You experienced in the past?
Surely you will feel much pain
If misfortunes attack you?
The woes of life succeed one another
Like the sea’s incessant waves
One has barely passed, before
The next one takes its place.
Until you are liberated, pain
and pleasure come and go at random
Like passers-by encountered in the street.
Pleasures are precarious,
Like bathing in the sun;
Transient, too, as snowstorms
Which come without warning.
Remembering these things,
Why not practise the Dharma?
(pp. 634–635)
http://www.bps.lk/wheels_library/wh_095_097.html

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby Aloka » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:32 pm

.

Thank you very much , Chris!

:anjali:

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby appicchato » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:38 pm

Dazzlebling wrote:I don't have too much interest in either a rebirth/reincarnation position or a no-rebirth position. My wish is to just focus on practice in the present moment and also to do this when death approaches.


Greetings,

If your wish is to practice in the present moment, why the distinction between the 'now' and 'when death approaches?...

Be well... :smile:

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:43 pm

Chris, thanks! :anjali:

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Aloka
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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby Aloka » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:26 pm

appicchato wrote:
Dazzlebling wrote:I don't have too much interest in either a rebirth/reincarnation position or a no-rebirth position. My wish is to just focus on practice in the present moment and also to do this when death approaches.


Greetings,

If your wish is to practice in the present moment, why the distinction between the 'now' and 'when death approaches?...

Be well... :smile:



I was just clarifying my postion regarding death. In other words I would hope to be able to be calm and still practice when I'm dying rather than getting panicked and pulled about mentally concerning past, future, my karma, relatives friends etc.
Last edited by Aloka on Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby genkaku » Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:45 am

In the Dhammapada (don't ask me for page and verse), Gautama is quoted as saying, "All fear dying./All fear death." And if not always true, the observation is probably close enough for most of us.

But I wonder if our practice in Buddhism is well-served by vivid imaginings. We're not Christians, after all, scaring ourselves in order to elevate some institution and the beliefs it holds. We are people who are encouraged to find out for ourselves, to verify what is in front of our noses, to find out in fact what we may speak of in theory.

And my leaning is this: Without imagining anything, without painting scary pictures, without threatening ourselves or others, the matter of what is called death becomes apparent through persistent practice. It just becomes apparent. The breath comes in, the breath goes out ... where did it come from, where did it go? These are not intellectual questions ... seriously, where did this breath come from and where did it go?

One breath, one birth. One breath, one death. Over and over again. How could such a thing be alien or mystical or weird or scary? Belief cannot change or improve it. Belief cannot deny or disdain it. One breath, one birth. One breath, one death.

Practice makes such things easier. Stories and imaginings just depict uncertainty and fear. No one wants to live in fear or be uncertain. If we cannot figure out what is in front of our noses, what use would something called Buddhism possibly be? So we practice whichever practice we find most useful ... careful, caring attention ... and a bit at a time, the nose on our faces is no longer a stranger, much less a threat. One breath, one birth. One breath, one death. Finding the line between these two is impossible, isn't it? Careful, caring attention will answer such questions.

Just some noodling.

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:12 am

genkaku wrote:In the Dhammapada (don't ask me for page and verse), Gautama is quoted as saying, "All fear dying./All fear death." And if not always true, the observation is probably close enough for most of us.

The point of that verse is not to increase our own fear, but to recognise that others have the same desire to be free of fear:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
All tremble at the rod, all are fearful of death.
Drawing the parallel to yourself, neither kill nor get others to kill.

All tremble at the rod, all hold their life dear.
Drawing the parallel to yourself, neither kill nor get others to kill.

Metta Mike

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby Jechbi » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:28 am

Hi Dazzle,

Dazzlebling wrote:... and I wondered how this quote should be related to practice.

One way to relate the quote to practice might be to consider how death strikes like lightening in this very moment.

Garma C.C. Chang wrote:Life, Death and Bardo follow one another.
Never apart from you
Are these three ‘visitors’.


fwiw
:anjali:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby Ben » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:21 am

Hi Dazzlebling

Samvega Pasada.
Here's a thread that's been started on the subject: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1816

Appamada: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1797

Samvega naturally arises as the result of progress on the path and the development of naana (knowledge/insight)

There are ten levels of knowledge in Vipassana, namely:

(i) Sammasana: theoretical appreciation of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta by close observation and analysis.
(ii) Udayabbaya: knowledge of the arising and dissolution of Rupa and Nama by direct observation.

(iii) Bhanga: knowledge of the rapidly changing nature of Rupa and Nama as a swift current or stream of energy; in particular, clear awareness of the phase of dissolution.

(iv) Bhaya: knowledge that this very existence is dreadful.

(v) Adinava: knowledge that this very existence is full of evils.

(vi) Nibbida: knowledge that this very existence is disgusting.

(vii) Muncitukamyata: knowledge of the urgent need and wish to escape from this very existence.

(viii) Patisankha: knowledge of the fact that time has come to work with full realization for salvation with anicca as the base.

(ix) Sankhara upekkha: knowledge that the stage is now set to get detached from all conditioned phenomena (sankhara) and to break away from egocentricity.

(x) Anuloma: knowledge that would accelerate the attempt to reach the goal.
-- Sayagi U Ba Khin, 1969, , The Essentials of Buddha Dhamma in Meditative Practice : , http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el231.html


Metta

Ben
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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby Aloka » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:08 pm

.

Thanks very much for your input everyone -and for the links for me to read, Ben. Much appreciated.


:anjali:

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby christopher::: » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 pm

I just learned a few hours ago that a colleague died this afternoon of a heart attack, out on a golf course, with 2 fellow co-workers. He was 53 years old. Nice guy, great sense of humor. Loved life, laughter, teaching, good food, friends and family. Leaves behind his wife and 14 year old daughter. I last saw him about a week ago, getting off an elevator. He smiled and thanked me for sending him a suggestion by e-mail that he had not responded to, but that he had put forward to the rest of the staff and they were going to implement. He shook my hand for some reason, something we don't normally do. I'm very glad he did. Death does indeed strike like lightning.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby genkaku » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:12 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
genkaku wrote:In the Dhammapada (don't ask me for page and verse), Gautama is quoted as saying, "All fear dying./All fear death." And if not always true, the observation is probably close enough for most of us.

The point of that verse is not to increase our own fear, but to recognise that others have the same desire to be free of fear:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
All tremble at the rod, all are fearful of death.
Drawing the parallel to yourself, neither kill nor get others to kill.

All tremble at the rod, all hold their life dear.
Drawing the parallel to yourself, neither kill nor get others to kill.

Metta Mike


Just to be clear, I was not trying to suggest that the Dhammapada was trying to scare the pants off anyone. I take the verse more as an observation of fact.

But as a variety of posts here reveal, a simple statement of fact can be reason enough to start scaring the pants off people or to have them start vividly imagining all sorts of worldly and other-worldly embellishments.

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby sattva » Fri Jul 17, 2009 8:21 pm

This is an interesting topic and close to my heart as i had 3 deaths in 1 1/2 years in my family. The first death was the hardest because he was the closest. My mom was 2nd and then my uncle was 3rd. Interesting enough, well at least to me, with each death, i came closer and closer to being with the actual dying act. With my "husband", he was in ICU and i was in the waiting room when he died. With my Mom, i was in the kitchen and heard the death rattle and was right by her side in almost an instant. With my uncle, i was there when he was taking his last breaths and then took no more. All these people were not young and had a full life. Yet, no one saw that death was right around the corner for them. My one niece died in a fire when she was a few months shy of being two. One of my best friend's cousin died at 12. Just a freak kind of thing that no one knew she had. We just never know how long we will have to practice, 10 years, a month, a day, maybe not even that.

My Zen teacher speaks a lot about death and the importance of practice. Reflecting on death isn't suppose to make you get frantic, but to instill a sense of purpose that puts practice at the center of your life. i like this quote of Milarepa.

"Affairs and business will drag on forever, so lay them down and practice now the Dharma. If you think tomorrow is the time to practice, suddenly you find that life has slipped away. Who can tell when death will come?"
-Milarepa

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby Aloka » Fri Jul 17, 2009 8:55 pm

.

Here's another verse from Milarepa:

" Kind kinsmen circle round
the bed of the dying,
but non can help him for a moment.
Knowing that all must be left behind,
one realises that all great love
and attachment must be futile.
When the final moment comes,
only holy Dharma helps. "


:anjali:

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:23 pm

Recollections on death:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-su ... aranassati
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#five
Five Subjects for Frequent Recollection
(LEADER):
Handa mayaṃ abhiṇha-paccavekkhaṇa-pāthaṃ bhaṇāma se:
Let us now recite the passage for frequent recollection:

(ALL):
Jarā-dhammomhi jaraṃ anatīto.
I am subject to aging. Aging is unavoidable.

Byādhi-dhammomhi byādhiṃ anatīto.
I am subject to illness. Illness is unavoidable.

Maraṇa-dhammomhi maraṇaṃ anatīto.
I am subject to death. Death is unavoidable.

Sabbehi me piyehi manāpehi nānā-bhāvo vinā-bhāvo.
I will grow different, separate from all that is dear & appealing to me.

Kammassakomhi kamma-dāyādo kamma-yoni kamma-bandhu kamma-paṭisaraṇo.
I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and live dependent on my actions.

Yaṃ kammaṃ karissāmi kalyāṇaṃ vā pāpakaṃ vā tassa dāyādo bhavissāmi.
Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.

Evaṃ amhehi abhiṇhaṃ paccavekkhitabbaṃ.
We should often reflect on this.

Metta
Mike

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Re: Death strikes like lightening.

Postby christopher::: » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:11 pm

Thank you for sharing your story here, sattva. It sounds like you went thru some difficult times. I find it next to impossible to think about death in the abstract. I can only think of death's "meaning" in terms of people i have known, and cared about. Watching people's individual lives end. Appreciate every person, and every moment. Life is precious, and short. We're like flickering candles, soap bubbles on rivers.

Image
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009


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