Our Last Moments

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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SDC
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by SDC »

Sam Vara wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:37 pm
SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 3:55 pm
Mindfulness of death is pretty heavy, and it is easy to see why the Buddha did not recommend it to everyone. It can strike a sense of urgency, but really bring about a lot of anxiety.
I suppose it depends on what we mean by the phrase, but the Buddha did recommend frequent reflection upon our own death and it's naturalness and inevitability as being suitable for women, men, householders, and monastics - which looks like a roundabout way of saying "everyone".

Based on how AN 7.49 describes those seven perceptions all culminating in the same insight, it seems the Buddha would recommend mindfulness of breathing as a means to that end for those who perhaps would have struggled to do it more abruptly with death or ugliness.
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by coconut »

SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:12 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:37 pm
SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 3:55 pm
Mindfulness of death is pretty heavy, and it is easy to see why the Buddha did not recommend it to everyone. It can strike a sense of urgency, but really bring about a lot of anxiety.
I suppose it depends on what we mean by the phrase, but the Buddha did recommend frequent reflection upon our own death and it's naturalness and inevitability as being suitable for women, men, householders, and monastics - which looks like a roundabout way of saying "everyone".

Based on how AN 7.49 describes those seven perceptions all culminating in the same insight, it seems the Buddha would recommend mindfulness of breathing as a means to that end for those who perhaps would have struggled to do it more abruptly with death or ugliness.
Anapanasati is not an alternative to asubha meditation, it is to be done with it, see the simile of the lamp sutta.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I give up memories and thoughts of the lay life.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive and the repulsive.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive and the unrepulsive.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.
https://suttacentral.net/sn54.8/en/sujato

Anapanasati is the core meditation, and brahma viharas, asubha, vipassana, and all the other perception meditations are added on top of anapanasati

Anapanasati alone will not remove sensual desire fetters, it needs asubha meditation on top.
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by Sam Vara »

SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:12 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:37 pm
SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 3:55 pm
Mindfulness of death is pretty heavy, and it is easy to see why the Buddha did not recommend it to everyone. It can strike a sense of urgency, but really bring about a lot of anxiety.
I suppose it depends on what we mean by the phrase, but the Buddha did recommend frequent reflection upon our own death and it's naturalness and inevitability as being suitable for women, men, householders, and monastics - which looks like a roundabout way of saying "everyone".

Based on how AN 7.49 describes those seven perceptions all culminating in the same insight, it seems the Buddha would recommend mindfulness of breathing as a means to that end for those who perhaps would have struggled to do it more abruptly with death or ugliness.
Yes, that sounds right. I was thinking more of AN 5.57, which seems altogether more gentle yet is still full of optimism and promise! :anjali:
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by SDC »

coconut wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:15 pm
SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:12 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:37 pm

I suppose it depends on what we mean by the phrase, but the Buddha did recommend frequent reflection upon our own death and it's naturalness and inevitability as being suitable for women, men, householders, and monastics - which looks like a roundabout way of saying "everyone".

Based on how AN 7.49 describes those seven perceptions all culminating in the same insight, it seems the Buddha would recommend mindfulness of breathing as a means to that end for those who perhaps would have struggled to do it more abruptly with death or ugliness.
Anapanasati is not an alternative to asubha meditation, it is to be done with it, see the simile of the lamp sutta.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I give up memories and thoughts of the lay life.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive and the repulsive.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.

Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive and the unrepulsive.’ So let them closely focus on this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.
https://suttacentral.net/sn54.8/en/sujato

Anapanasati is the core meditation, and brahma viharas, asubha, vipassana, and all the other perception meditations are added on top of anapanasati

Anapanasati alone will not remove sensual desire fetters, it needs asubha meditation on top.
Please see AN 6.19:
have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying at Nadika, in the Brick Hall. There he addressed the monks, “Monks!”

“Yes, lord,” the monks replied.

The Blessed One said, “Mindfulness of death, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit & great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end. Therefore you should develop mindfulness of death.”

When this was said, a certain monk addressed the Blessed One, “I already develop mindfulness of death.”

“And how do you develop mindfulness of death?”

“I think, ‘O, that I might live for a day & night, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ This is how I develop mindfulness of death.”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, already develop mindfulness of death.”

“And how do you develop mindfulness of death?”

“I think, ‘O, that I might live for a day, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ This is how I develop mindfulness of death.”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, develop mindfulness of death.” … “I think, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to eat a meal, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ …”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, develop mindfulness of death.” … “I think, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ …”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, develop mindfulness of death.” … “I think, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ …”

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, “I, too, develop mindfulness of death.” … “I think, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.’ This is how I develop mindfulness of death.”

When this was said, the Blessed One addressed the monks. “Whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, ‘O, that I might live for a day & night… for a day… for the interval that it takes to eat a meal… for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal’—they are said to dwell heedlessly. They develop mindfulness of death slowly for the sake of ending the effluents.

“But whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, ‘O, that I might live for 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, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One’s instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal’—they are said to dwell heedfully. They develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.

“Therefore you should train yourselves: ‘We will dwell heedfully. We will develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.’ That is how you should train yourselves.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words.
All these things culminate in the same insight.
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by SDC »

Sam Vara wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:20 pm
SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:12 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:37 pm

I suppose it depends on what we mean by the phrase, but the Buddha did recommend frequent reflection upon our own death and it's naturalness and inevitability as being suitable for women, men, householders, and monastics - which looks like a roundabout way of saying "everyone".

Based on how AN 7.49 describes those seven perceptions all culminating in the same insight, it seems the Buddha would recommend mindfulness of breathing as a means to that end for those who perhaps would have struggled to do it more abruptly with death or ugliness.
Yes, that sounds right. I was thinking more of AN 5.57, which seems altogether more gentle yet is still full of optimism and promise! :anjali:
Seems like there were some who could handle it that way as well. Guess there were goths and hippies even back then lol
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by coconut »

SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:20 pm
All these things culminate in the same insight.
Yes, I understand but you're taking it out of context.You have to read other suttas, like the Chef sutta, to understand the context. When you sit down to meditate you're supposed to skillfully use the right antidote to disarm the presently occurring dominant hindrance.

The system is like this

1. Sit down and relax (anapanasati)
2. Watch your mind for which hindrance is strongest - https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
3. Apply the proper antidote (Theme/Nimitta) to remove that hindrance - Chef sutta - https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html and also Giriminanda sutta
4. Once all the 5 hindrances are tackled one naturally enters first jhana (Simile of the lamp sutta)

There is no one size fits all, you need to apply the proper theme at the right time to remove whatever obstacle is present. For the average person it's: Sensual desires -> Ill-will -> Restlessness -> Sloth
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by SDC »

coconut wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:27 pm
SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:20 pm
All these things culminate in the same insight.
Yes, I understand but you're taking it out of context.You have to read other suttas, like the Chef sutta, to understand the context. When you sit down to meditate you're supposed to skillfully use the right antidote to disarm the presently occurring dominant hindrance.

The system is like this

1. Sit down and relax (anapanasati)
2. Watch your mind for which hindrance is strongest - https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
3. Apply the proper antidote (Theme/Nimitta) to remove that hindrance - Chef sutta - https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html and also Giriminanda sutta
4. Once all the 5 hindrances are tackled one naturally enters first jhana (Simile of the lamp sutta)

There is no one size fits all, you need to apply the proper theme at the right time to remove whatever obstacle is present. For the average person it's: Sensual desires -> Ill-will -> Restlessness -> Sloth
I wasn't taking it out of context. If you put AN 6.19 and AN 7.49 together, the insight is the same. The development culminates in the deathless. I'm not sure why we would argue whether or not these different avenues are means to the same end. Clearly they are.
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by coconut »

SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:31 pm
coconut wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:27 pm
SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:20 pm
All these things culminate in the same insight.
Yes, I understand but you're taking it out of context.You have to read other suttas, like the Chef sutta, to understand the context. When you sit down to meditate you're supposed to skillfully use the right antidote to disarm the presently occurring dominant hindrance.

The system is like this

1. Sit down and relax (anapanasati)
2. Watch your mind for which hindrance is strongest - https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
3. Apply the proper antidote (Theme/Nimitta) to remove that hindrance - Chef sutta - https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html and also Giriminanda sutta
4. Once all the 5 hindrances are tackled one naturally enters first jhana (Simile of the lamp sutta)

There is no one size fits all, you need to apply the proper theme at the right time to remove whatever obstacle is present. For the average person it's: Sensual desires -> Ill-will -> Restlessness -> Sloth
I wasn't taking it out of context. If you put AN 6.19 and AN 7.49 together, the insight is the same. The development culminates in the deathless. I'm not sure why we would argue whether or not these different avenues are means to the same end. Clearly they are.

The purpose of that death meditation is for arousing energy and urgency, i.e. to light a fire under someones ass, so that they hurry up and attain jhanas. It's the same as in the other suttas where Moggallana causes a monastery to shake with his finger in order to wake up the lazy monks. i.e. you may die any second now, so hurry up and attain before it's too late. There's many suttas like that, like for example the future dangers series which were a favourite of King Ashoka.

Death meditation alone does not cause you to attain the deathless, what causes you to attain the deathless is maha-abhinata, an abhinna one attains in fourth jhana.

Death meditation is also not the same as the repulsiveness meditation which is for removing sensual desire.
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by SDC »

coconut wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:41 pm
SDC wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:31 pm
coconut wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:27 pm

Yes, I understand but you're taking it out of context.You have to read other suttas, like the Chef sutta, to understand the context. When you sit down to meditate you're supposed to skillfully use the right antidote to disarm the presently occurring dominant hindrance.

The system is like this

1. Sit down and relax (anapanasati)
2. Watch your mind for which hindrance is strongest - https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
3. Apply the proper antidote (Theme/Nimitta) to remove that hindrance - Chef sutta - https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html and also Giriminanda sutta
4. Once all the 5 hindrances are tackled one naturally enters first jhana (Simile of the lamp sutta)

There is no one size fits all, you need to apply the proper theme at the right time to remove whatever obstacle is present. For the average person it's: Sensual desires -> Ill-will -> Restlessness -> Sloth
I wasn't taking it out of context. If you put AN 6.19 and AN 7.49 together, the insight is the same. The development culminates in the deathless. I'm not sure why we would argue whether or not these different avenues are means to the same end. Clearly they are.

The purpose of that death meditation is for arousing energy and urgency, i.e. to light a fire under someones ass, so that they hurry up and attain jhanas. It's the same as in the other suttas where Moggallana causes a monastery to shake with his finger in order to wake up the lazy monks. i.e. you may die any second now, so hurry up and attain before it's too late. There's many suttas like that, like for example the future dangers series which were a favourite of King Ashoka.

Death meditation alone does not cause you to attain the deathless, what causes you to attain the deathless is maha-abhinata, an abhinna one attains in fourth jhana.

Death meditation is also not the same as the repulsiveness meditation which is for removing sensual desire.
And the removal of sense desire is itself another means. These things do not stand as achievements in themselves, if arahantship is the goal.

There are two things here that I have conflated in haste (and you seem to have as well), mindfulness of death and perception of death. I stand corrected on that. However, perception of death and repulsiveness do lead to disenchantment and culminate in the deathless as per AN 7.49:
AN 7.49 wrote:If a mendicant often meditates with a mind reinforced with the perception of ugliness, but their mind is drawn to sexual intercourse, and not repulsed, they should know: ‘My perception of ugliness is undeveloped. I don’t have any distinction higher than before. I haven’t attained a fruit of development.’ In this way they are aware of the situation. But if a mendicant often meditates with a mind reinforced with the perception of ugliness, their mind draws back from sexual intercourse … they should know: ‘My perception of ugliness is well developed. I have realized a distinction higher than before. I have attained a fruit of development.’ In this way they are aware of the situation. ‘When the perception of ugliness is developed and cultivated it’s very fruitful and beneficial. It culminates in the deathless and ends with the deathless.’ That’s what I said, and this is why I said it.

‘When the perception of death is developed and cultivated it’s very fruitful and beneficial. It culminates in the deathless and ends with the deathless.’ That’s what I said, but why did I say it? When a mendicant often meditates with a mind reinforced with the perception of death, their mind draws back from attachment to life. … That’s what I said, and this is why I said it.
Sure it will always remain to rouse and maintain that urgency, but it will also continue to keep the mind drawn back. Two different functions to the same end.
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by DooDoot »

When mindfulness with in-&-out breathing is developed & pursued in this way, even one's final in-breaths & out-breaths are known as they cease, not unknown.

MN 62
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by SDC »

coconut wrote: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:41 pm ...
Here are a few interesting suttas:
AN 10.237 wrote:Bhikkhus, for direct knowledge of lust, ten things are to be developed. What ten? The perception of unattractiveness, the perception of death, the perception of the repulsiveness of food, the perception of non-delight in the entire world, the perception of impermanence, the perception of suffering in the impermanent, the perception of non-self in what is suffering, the perception of abandoning, the perception of dispassion, and the perception of cessation. For direct knowledge of lust, these ten things are to be developed.
AN 5.62 wrote:Bhikkhus, these five perceptions, when developed and cultivated, are of great fruit and benefit, culminating in the deathless, having the deathless as their consummation. What five? The perception of impermanence, the perception of non-self, the perception of death, the perception of the repulsiveness of food, and the perception of non-delight in the entire world. These five perceptions, when developed and cultivated, are of great fruit and benefit, culminating in the deathless, having the deathless as their consummation
So it does seem that it is much more significant than just the rousing of the urgency --- again, now that I'm clearly making the distinction between mindfulness of death (maraṇassati) and perception of death (maraṇasaññā).
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by 2600htz »

Hi:

Last moments before death are very important, as it can decide where a person will take rebirth.
Of course its not the only moment of our lives, so a person living a good life that ends up dying suddenly, with pain, or afflictions still would probably be reborn in a good place.

The idea is to die with an uplifted mind, being this because of meditation or having a nice moment with our loved ones, depending on our level of development and circumstances.

Regards.
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by dharmacorps »

Gil Fronsdahl wrote a good guide regarding death and dying from a theravada perspective.

https://urbandharma.org/pdf1/CareOfDyingAndDead.pdf
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by Sam Vara »

SDC wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 2:38 am now that I'm clearly making the distinction between mindfulness of death (maraṇassati) and perception of death (maraṇasaññā).
How do you see the difference between them, SDC?
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Re: Our Last Moments

Post by Frank23 »

AN 8.74 wrote: 'Or I might be attacked by humans or non-humans. And if I died from that it would be an obstacle to me.’
This is a bit of a tangent, but that phrasing struck me as interesting. What could "non-humans" refer to here, and how could they be life-threatening? Or is this just a way to refer to animals/insects besides the ones singled out?
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