How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

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dhammapal
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How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby dhammapal » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:53 am

Hi,

The purpose of Mindfulness of Death (marananussati) as taught in the is to maximize one's Dhamma practice, right conduct, skillful deeds, meritorious deeds, considering the rarity of a human birth and how destructive death is to everybody.

Do you think Mindfulness of Death should be taught to atheists, people who are convinced that there is automatically no suffering after death? Would it encourage hedonism? I think it could wake people up from assuming they will live for an indefinite period into the future, to take a more tentative, playful and pragmatic attitude to life and let go of quarrels and mundane future desires, worries and fears.

Thanks / dhammapal.






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Ben
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby Ben » Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:02 am

Greetings Dhammapal

It might be easier to teach people who are avowed atheists (secular)-mindfulness meditation. If that piques their interest they might be inclined towards someone such as Stephen Bachelor (Buddhism without Beliefs) and from there - who knows?
I tend to think maranasati is probably way too confronting for most people - Buddhist or non-Buddhist.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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James the Giant
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby James the Giant » Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:42 am

Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.

lament
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby lament » Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:36 pm

I thought the purpose of death meditation was to help realize the impermanence of the body, so that the meditator is forced to stop identifying with it and clinging to it. This seems beneficial regardless of one's beliefs.

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:41 pm

I think impermanence of the body meditation would be far more helpful than death meditation.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta


lament
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby lament » Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:48 pm

Oh sorry, didn't realize they were not the same thing and didn't actually read the sutta :|
Still, awareness of death seems better than ignorance of it, for anyone. Why promote ignorance?

darvki
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby darvki » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:28 pm


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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:53 am

Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta


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James the Giant
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby James the Giant » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:17 am

:goodpost:
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.

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daverupa
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:43 am

Teaching mindfulness of death in the context of rebirth is not going to be skillful discourse with an atheist. For those cases, the quote in my signature is a useful approach - there, the headman is perplexed over competing cosmological and ethical claims, and the Buddha offers a long discourse on the matter. It is noteworthy that the view of rebirth elsewhere described as right view with effluents is here lumped together with it's opposite, and both are set aside as unhelpful speculation in this case.

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kirk5a
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:07 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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daverupa
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:24 pm


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James the Giant
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby James the Giant » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:34 pm

Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.

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kirk5a
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:39 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

lament
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby lament » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:12 pm

Well, speaking as an annihilationist...

1) My belief in annihilationism is quite unshakable. I can't really see any way I could change or destabilize it. If there was anything in the suttas that could do it, I would probably have found it by now.

2) I can testify that meditation on death does not make me a hedonist. It's balancing. It promotes mindfulness and momentary awareness. It certainly doesn't make me want to break precepts or do actions inconsistent with the noble eightfold path. The alternative, which is really feigned ignorance, seems childish and unhelpful. So that's some anecdotal evidence.

I agree with darvki, you are giving atheists/annihilationists too little credit here.

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kirk5a
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:54 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

whynotme
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby whynotme » Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:38 pm

Please stop following me

lament
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby lament » Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:21 pm


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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: How to teach Mindfulness of Death to atheists?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:23 pm

Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta



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