Results 1 to 41 of 41

Thread: Fear of Death

  1. #1

    Fear of Death

    Came across a quote by Epicurus this weekend that I think matches the spirit of Zen and Buddhist notions of impermanence:

    ...death is nothing to us. For all good and evil consists in sensation, but death is deprivation of sensation. And therefore a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not because it adds to it an infinite span of time, but because it takes away the craving for immortality. For there is nothing terrible in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living. [Death] does not then concern either the living or the dead, since for the former it is not, and the latter are no more... That which gives no trouble when it comes, is but an empty pain in anticipation.
    Gassho,
    Matt

  2. #2

    Re: Fear of Death

    Zen is about realizing that life and death are not two.
    That being said, I treasure life, I love life, i love life in people and things.
    When death comes, so be it. It is now life, so be it.
    Tahnk you for the quote.


    gassho


    Taigu

  3. #3

    Re: Fear of Death

    I was reticent to post this, but it comes from a place of honesty. Death scares the shit out of me.

  4. #4

    Re: Fear of Death

    Most of mmy fears now are silly and neurotic and I work with them. I'm more concerned with what can I do to live than fear of dying.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: Fear of Death

    Hi Matt,

    There are a lot of really good thoughts here. This one really grabs me most though.

    Death does not then concern either the living or the dead, since for the former it is not, and the latter are no more...
    Much to think about here!

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    I was reticent to post this, but it comes from a place of honesty. Death scares the shit out of me.
    It use to scare me too. I use to have sleepless nights thinking about death, and trying to trick myself that it will never happen to me. When I started to venture into Buddhism I would avoid everything that had to do with death. But then I heard a a talk from Richard Dawkins that made me see things in a different light...

    We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.
    I do not know why I am here, or if there is any point to my being here. All I know is that I am here. And for that, just for that fact I want to make the best out of it. To really be aware of what is going on around me, while I enjoy this short yet beautiful thing we call life. Death comes with this package, so be it. in the meanwhile; we should all try to be happy and make those around us happy, since we never know if this chance at life will ever come again...

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  7. #7

    Re: Fear of Death

    Gassho

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sarnia, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    2,053
    Blog Entries
    119

    Re: Fear of Death

    Risho wrote;
    Death scares the shit out of me.
    look at it this way, shit happens, at least you don't have to resort to medication to clear your colon.

    Seiryu wrote;
    To really be aware of what is going on around me, while I enjoy this short yet beautiful thing we call life. Death comes with this package, so be it. in the meanwhile; we should all try to be happy and make those around us happy, since we never know if this chance at life will ever come again...
    Awesome; i don't think even the HHDL XIV ever came up with something better
    Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
    Dalai Lama
    Buddha's thoughts on Happiness;


    http://www3.sympatico.ca/rjmaxwell/toristar.htm

  9. #9

    Fear of Death

    I'm not afraid of death, never have been. Well, except for one time when I was six and my grandfather died, I got really upset because I thought that death meant that we just disappear. I couldn't handle that idea very well. I have since seen the death of several people I know, including my mother and father, and have fully experienced that death is also birth. I am not afraid of what came before I was born, and so I am not afraid of what comes after I die.

    Oh, and Shokai, regarding this quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai

    Buddha's thoughts on Happiness;


    http://www3.sympatico.ca/rjmaxwell/toristar.htm
    I don't want to be a killjoy, but do you know where that quote is taken from? I know some people are claiming it to be from the sutta nipata collection, but I have yet to find it there. It could be one of those Buddha quotes that are abundant on the internet, but is nowhere to be found in the actual suttas or sutras. All sorts of things have in like manner been ascribed to the Buddha, not saying though that this has to be the case here.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: Fear of Death

    We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.
    Hi Seiryu,
    This is a beautiful example of how luck we are. When it comes to life and death I think similarly to what you have posted here.
    For a long time I worried about it. Full of thoughts and fears like, "where was I before I was born? It was before the five senses of the flesh and blood. Since I have no memories it must have been the complete void of nothingness. If I came from nothingness what guarantee(religious idea of an afterlife) is there that I will not just return to that nothingness?"
    Even now I still believe that when it's lights out the shows over folks. What has helped me get over it is if this is the only time that i will ever exist how lucky I am. First like written above I'm lucky to have even been born. And not just being born because I could have been born as a slug, so I'm lucky that if I only have one life to live that I'm living it as a human being. And not just that. I could have been born as a human in a poverished country where I, most likely due to disease, war, ect, would never have even lived as long as I have. I'm lucky that even if i die today i will have outlived many more than I can imagine. My list goes on and on but I'll stop here. In conclusion we should not think of how unlucky death is but rather focus on how lucky it is to have what we have in this life.

    Gassho,
    John

  11. #11

    Re: Fear of Death

    My thoughts exactly John!

    And not only that, the whole fact that we have an opportunity to walk a path that lets us become aware of the fact that we are so fortunate is another incredible thing. Living life without reflecting on how rare it is, isn't bad, but the fact that we can look back at our life and not take it for granted is something truly amazing.

    Like stated in the evening Gatha
    Let me respectfully remind you,
    Life and death are of supreme importance.
    Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
    Each of us should strive to awaken.
    Awaken! Take heed!
    Do not squander your lives....
    Gassho

    Seiryu

  12. #12

    Re: Fear of Death

    Just to add-
    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Since I have no memories it must have been the complete void of nothingness. If I came from nothingness what guarantee(religious idea of an afterlife) is there that I will not just return to that nothingness?"
    Even now I still believe that when it's lights out the shows over folks.
    To that extend I completly agree. Lights out, show over.
    But at the same time the show must go on...

    The interesting part is, that whether we like it or not, we will live forever. Not in the traditional afterlife lying on a cloud taking harp lessons idea, but by remembering that every action we partake it, every word we speak or write, has an effect on this world. And that effect doesn't simply go away just because we are no longer here. I am here because thousand upon thousand of years ago my ancestors was smart enough not to be eaten. Because of that, I am here. In that sense he is not dead, I am simply his continuation. Who knows what will come about from my actions in the future. My proof of having existed will not be taken away.

    When I remember this, I feel I have to take full responsibility for all my thoughts and actions, because they will have a very long lasting effect on this universe.

    Every actions, from the profound to the mundane, effects this universe like ripples in a pond after a stone has been dropped in.
    Endless ripples in this vast ocean we call space and time...

    Just some ideas...

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  13. #13

    Re: Fear of Death

    Some great comments, thanks for sharing. I really like the Dawkins quote that Seiryu posted.

    I don't fear death, but it saddens me to think of no longer seeing loved ones, or to think that they may suffer when I'm gone. I never thought much of death until I had children. Then suddenly there they are, daily reminders of impermanence. They change so fast.

    Gassho,
    Matt

  14. #14
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: Fear of Death

    Seiryu wrote:
    The interesting part is, that whether we like it or not, we will live forever. Not in the traditional afterlife lying on a cloud taking harp lessons idea, but by remembering that every action we partake it, every word we speak or write, has an effect on this world. And that effect doesn't simply go away just because we are no longer here. I am here because thousand upon thousand of years ago my ancestors was smart enough not to be eaten. Because of that, I am here. In that sense he is not dead, I am simply his continuation. Who knows what will come about from my actions in the future. My proof of having existed will not be taken away.
    Also we will live forever in that every part of our existing body will be recycled back into the chain of life. Our bodies will break down and be consumed by insects, plants etc. And when they die it will begin again. As you say though it is not in the traditional idea of an afterlife but it is imortality none the less!
    I like how they put it in the movie Avatar. All that we have is merely borrowed and someday we will have to give it back.

    Gassho,
    John

  15. #15

    Re: Fear of Death

    Hello friends,

    I rather like how Rev. Brad puts it in one of his books (can't remember, and am going to paraphrase): If you believe in rebirth, then you must also believe that this is the afterlife. Stop wasting it.

    Metta,

    Saijun

  16. #16

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Hello friends,

    I rather like how Rev. Brad puts it in one of his books (can't remember, and am going to paraphrase): If you believe in rebirth, then you must also believe that this is the afterlife. Stop wasting it.

    Metta,

    Saijun

    I agree; its funny because I just posted that quote on my facebook

    "If you want to believe in reincarnation, you have to believe that this life, what you are living through right now, is the afterlife. You're missing out on the afterlife you looked forward to in your last existence by worrying about your next life. This is what happens after you die. Take a look." ~Brad Warner

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  17. #17

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Hello friends,

    I rather like how Rev. Brad puts it in one of his books (can't remember, and am going to paraphrase): If you believe in rebirth, then you must also believe that this is the afterlife. Stop wasting it.

    Metta,

    Saijun

    I agree; its funny because I just posted that quote on my facebook

    "If you want to believe in reincarnation, you have to believe that this life, what you are living through right now, is the afterlife. You're missing out on the afterlife you looked forward to in your last existence by worrying about your next life. This is what happens after you die. Take a look." ~Brad Warner

    Gassho

    Seiryu
    Great quote! So, whether there's rebirth or there isn't, the life you're living is all you've got!

  18. #18

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    I don't want to be a killjoy, but do you know where that quote is taken from? I know some people are claiming it to be from the sutta nipata collection, but I have yet to find it there. It could be one of those Buddha quotes that are abundant on the internet, but is nowhere to be found in the actual suttas or sutras. All sorts of things have in like manner been ascribed to the Buddha, not saying though that this has to be the case here.
    Hello Anista,

    I'm actually fairly certain that that quote is in the Pali Canon, though I don't remember where. If I come across it, I'll give you the citation.

    Metta,

    Saijun

  19. #19

    Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    I don't want to be a killjoy, but do you know where that quote is taken from? I know some people are claiming it to be from the sutta nipata collection, but I have yet to find it there. It could be one of those Buddha quotes that are abundant on the internet, but is nowhere to be found in the actual suttas or sutras. All sorts of things have in like manner been ascribed to the Buddha, not saying though that this has to be the case here.
    Hello Anista,

    I'm actually fairly certain that that quote is in the Pali Canon, though I don't remember where. If I come across it, I'll give you the citation.

    Metta,

    Saijun
    Great! Then I will continue my search for it.

  20. #20

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Great! Then I will continue my search for it.
    Hello Anista,

    So far, I've only been able to find it cited in "Sutta Nipata." Perhaps this is a faulty citation; I can't seem to actually find it in the text, but I've heard a few Dharma talks on the Four Divine Abidings which reference it, so perhaps it's a later creation?

    Metta,

    Saijun

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    2,028

    Re: Fear of Death

    Thank you Matto for this thread.
    If I were really wise I might say something like, "death is just death; the fear is extra".
    But I am not wise and am as s**t scared of death as anyone.
    But then again, I'm usually too busy with life to think about it.
    Still, I imagine when the moment comes I will ask someone to ring a bell by the hospital bed so that I can enter the mind of zazen again.
    Gassho
    Soen

  22. #22

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Great! Then I will continue my search for it.
    Hello Anista,

    So far, I've only been able to find it cited in "Sutta Nipata." Perhaps this is a faulty citation; I can't seem to actually find it in the text, but I've heard a few Dharma talks on the Four Divine Abidings which reference it, so perhaps it's a later creation?

    Metta,

    Saijun
    Hello Saijun,

    Yes, that's what I found too, that the quote is supposed to be in sutta nipata.The sutta nipata, however, is a collection and contains some 70 (or more) suttas, and I haven't read through them all. Not sure if all of them are translated to English, and my knowledge of Pali is scarce.

    And yes, I also suspect it to be a later creation, but I can't be sure. The quote itself doesn't sound like it is from a sutta. There's just something about it.

    Thanks for your time though, Saijun. I'm going to look a bit further into this. To search ancient scriptures for obscure quotes is what I do in my spare time .


    Edit to add: Here's a site that talks about false Buddha quotes. It's a quite interesting read, and I've seen those quotes on google searches, on twitter, facebook, on android and iphone apps, etc. They are very widespread. It's worth a look.

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    2,939

    Re: Fear of Death

    Hi all
    Good topic and replies
    I absolutely feared death, nearly to death.... when i realized there was no orderly way (Grandfather, father, son) so to speak, there was no discrimination. Thing is I wasted so many moments worrying about death!!

    Gassho
    Shohei

  24. #24
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: Fear of Death

    Hi All,

    I kind of look at it this way. It's like having the alarm set to wake you in the morning. Its going to go off when the time comes weather we like it or not and there is nothing we can do to stop it. I suppose it could be argued that one could just simply unplug it, but then we would be late for work, lose our jobs, etc in a downward spiral. :shock: For the sake of argument lets say we can't. So we have few choices in the matter. We can worry about it all night and and turn into insomniacs. Or we can acknowledge the inevitability of it, let it pass, and not ruin a good nights rest. Once again the choice is ours!

    Gassho,
    John

  25. #25

    Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson

    For a long time I worried about it. Full of thoughts and fears like, "where was I before I was born? It was before the five senses of the flesh and blood. Since I have no memories it must have been the complete void of nothingness. If I came from nothingness what guarantee(religious idea of an afterlife) is there that I will not just return to that nothingness?"
    Even now I still believe that when it's lights out the shows over folks. What has helped me get over it is if this is the only time that i will ever exist how lucky I am. First like written above I'm lucky to have even been born. And not just being born because I could have been born as a slug, so I'm lucky that if I only have one life to live that I'm living it as a human being. And not just that. I could have been born as a human in a poverished country where I, most likely due to disease, war, ect, would never have even lived as long as I have. I'm lucky that even if i die today i will have outlived many more than I can imagine. My list goes on and on but I'll stop here. In conclusion we should not think of how unlucky death is but rather focus on how lucky it is to have what we have in this life.

    Gassho,
    John
    Hello John,

    I wonder why you think you came from nothingness, just because you have no memories from the time before you were born? I have no memories from when I was one year old, but I still existed then, didn't I?

    I am also curious if you consider yourself to be a materialist, adhering to what Zen buddhist teacher Sante Poromaa called "the (natural)-scientific materialistic view of life -- a finite, isolated event with a distinct beginning and a distinct end". May I ask you how you reconcile the Buddha's teaching with such a perspective?

    I'm not asking from an antagonistic point of view, I'm genuinely interested. To me it would be hard to leave that, in my perspective and experience, vital part of Buddhism out, and still call it Buddhism.

    i'm sorry if you in any way took offence by these questions. Feel free to ignore them.

  26. #26
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Marcos, California
    Posts
    1,474

    Re: Fear of Death

    How do we know that life is rare or not so rare? Is it a spectacular gift, or is it something we have done over and over, like an exercise? Is this life a punishment away from our true existence, or a vacation? Is it anything with any meaning at all?

    Life seems to be rare in this universe, as far as we know. However, what of quantum physics and the possibility of other planes of existence, whether lofty or grossly physical, existing, possibly, right alongside you.

    When I start thinking about these things, I realize how much I cannot possibly know due to the existence or non existence of alternate realities, or the existence or non existence of "life" after death. With all the possible forms of life that there could be, whether here, in another dimension, or even after death, there is just no way of knowing from my frame of reference... at least not yet.

    What we perceive might simply be a program in the matrix we are plugged into just so that giant robots can feed off of our bio electricity...

    I guess what I am saying is that I don't like to talk about how "special" or "precious" life is, nor do I like to cynically define it as something heavy, biological and meaningless. I just don't know what the hell it is to begin with! As afraid as I am of death, I don't know what that is, either, or if there is any point in being afraid. How do I even know that I am going to die, until it eventually or doesn't eventually happen? How do I know there is even time? How do I know that this is not all a dream!

    AHHH!!!!

    I'll stop now.

    / Amelia

  27. #27

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    How do we know that life is rare or not so rare? ... I guess what I am saying is that I don't like to talk about how "special" or "precious" life is,
    Rare, maybe we'll never know, but I would definitely argue for precious. Life is so fragile, we are here for such a short time, and it's certainly wondrous.

    But it isn't a simple matter, as you've elaborately noted!

  28. #28
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: Fear of Death

    Anista wrote:
    i'm sorry if you in any way took offence by these questions. Feel free to ignore them.
    No offense taken. Let's examine this together shall we.....

    Anista wrote:
    I wonder why you think you came from nothingness, just because you have no memories from the time before you were born? I have no memories from when I was one year old, but I still existed then, didn't I?
    I don't have conscious memories of age one either. However we should not assume everyone is like us. Perhaps some people do? Of course we can go back even further in age to limit the likeliness and try to prove its possible to exist without them. Hell we could use plants as an example! Instead we can drop that because we don't even need to use the concept of memory as a sole determining factor to examine nonexistence.

    John wrote:
    For a long time I worried about it. Full of thoughts and fears like, "where was I before I was born? It was before the five senses of the flesh and blood. Since I have no memories it must have been the complete void of nothingness. If I came from nothingness what guarantee(religious idea of an afterlife) is there that I will not just return to that nothingness?"
    If you notice lack of memory, though a part of it, is not only what I believe makes us exist or not. I also mentioned physical form and the 5 senses. The way i see it the more you take away from the equation the closer to nothingness you get. No form, no thoughts, no seeing, no hearing, no smelling, etc (wow, now i'm starting to hear the heart sutra playing in my head!). If you have absolutely no way to perceive anything how can you possibly be considered to be anything more than nothingness?

    Anista wrote:
    I am also curious if you consider yourself to be a materialist, adhering to what Zen buddhist teacher Sante Poromaa called "the (natural)-scientific materialistic view of life -- a finite, isolated event with a distinct beginning and a distinct end".
    I don't, but its okay with me if you do.

    Anista wrote:
    May I ask you how you reconcile the Buddha's teaching with such a perspective?
    I didn't know i had to :shock:
    In your opinion which of Buddha's teachings do I need to?

    Gassho,
    John

  29. #29
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Marcos, California
    Posts
    1,474

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Matto
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    How do we know that life is rare or not so rare? ... I guess what I am saying is that I don't like to talk about how "special" or "precious" life is,
    Rare, maybe we'll never know, but I would definitely argue for precious. Life is so fragile, we are here for such a short time, and it's certainly wondrous.

    But it isn't a simple matter, as you've elaborately noted!
    I think that in the shortening of my quote up there, the meaning has been somewhat altered. The whole thing is:

    "I guess what I am saying is that I don't like to talk about how "special" or "precious" life is, nor do I like to cynically define it as something heavy, biological and meaningless. I just don't know what... [life] is..!"

    I don't want anyone coming away from my post with the idea that I don't find life to be absolutely wonderful, wondrous, precious, awesome, (insert adjective); etc, in my own human way.

  30. #30
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Marcos, California
    Posts
    1,474

    Re: Fear of Death

    I just had a very flighty, freeing, and exciting feeling that death is a huge adventure that I have gone on over and over again, and that going through it is no big deal at all!

    But then, as soon as the feeling came and felt like the truth, I let it move along, for once. The moving along of the feeling felt more liberating than the huge rush of liberation that the feeling seemed to be.

    Bows for both feelings.

    / Amelia

  31. #31

    Re: Fear of Death

    Hello John,

    Thank you for your reply!

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    I don't have conscious memories of age one either. However we should not assume everyone is like us. Perhaps some people do? Of course we can go back even further in age to limit the likeliness and try to prove its possible to exist without them. Hell we could use plants as an example! Instead we can drop that because we don't even need to use the concept of memory as a sole determining factor to examine nonexistence.

    If you notice lack of memory, though a part of it, is not only what I believe makes us exist or not. I also mentioned physical form and the 5 senses. The way i see it the more you take away from the equation the closer to nothingness you get. No form, no thoughts, no seeing, no hearing, no smelling, etc (wow, now i'm starting to hear the heart sutra playing in my head!). If you have absolutely no way to perceive anything how can you possibly be considered to be anything more than nothingness?
    Well, my point was that since I don't have memory of any kind when I was 1, I too did not have the five senses or the physical form. No matter how many photographs there are of me, I don't remember anything. However, the Buddha (and several others) did see how their senses and forms were in previous lives. We shouldn't discard everything just because we haven't got that far in our practice, don't you think? As I wrote in another thread, there is still belief involved (in my experience). What I find odd (but not wrong) is how easy it is to neglect, discard or contradict the Buddha's teachings under the guise of the zen banner (not saying that you do, just how I interpret things). As to your last sentence -- there is a way to perceive that which came before, and that is through practice.

    Anista wrote:
    I am also curious if you consider yourself to be a materialist, adhering to what Zen buddhist teacher Sante Poromaa called "the (natural)-scientific materialistic view of life -- a finite, isolated event with a distinct beginning and a distinct end".
    I don't, but its okay with me if you do.
    But didn't you say that "when the light's out the show's over"? Isn't that the same thing? if it's not, then I guess this is where I was a little confused. Please note that I'm not talking about your actions living on, since a materialist of the above definition would tend to agree with that as well. I'm talking about your consciousness. That is, you came from nothing, and will return to nothing.

    Anista wrote:
    May I ask you how you reconcile the Buddha's teaching with such a perspective?
    I didn't know i had to :shock:
    In your opinion which of Buddha's teachings do I need to?
    Obviously *you* do not have to. My mistake. I would have to, though. If I was, for example, believing that God created me, I would have to reconcile that with the Buddha's teaching that there can be no immortal, that there can be no first cause, that everything is subject to decay and death, even the Gods. I would have to think hard if I would call myself a Buddhist, even though I rejected this vital part of impermanence. I would think, why do I want to be a Buddhist when I'm rejecting buddhism. Again, I'm not saying you do, I was simply curious *if* you ever thought of this, and in that case, how you came to the conclusions that you did in spite of what the Buddha teaches.

    I was, among other things, referring to rebirth, and how your stream of consciousness continues even after you are dead. This would be an outcome of samsara. If we come from nothingness, and end up in nothingness, there is no samsara, and there is no liberation from samsara. Without liberation, Buddha was wrong. If Buddha was wrong, why be a buddhist? You see my chain of reasoning?

    This was how I saw it. I was most likely wrong. That was why I asked for your views.

  32. #32

    Re: Fear of Death

    I found this short video about death and thought it was insightful.

    Anyway...I'll share it:

    [youtube] [/youtube]

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  33. #33

    Re: Fear of Death

    Very valuable posts here...
    The all question of death is an a... kicker. It is what takes you to the cushion and stop procrastinating. At the same time it can be seen as a huge possibility to fantasize and project all sorts of wied and wild expectations.
    The difficulty, and this is a big one, is not to turn death into something else, not to manipulate it. All religions do, they basically wrap death up,justify the whole process. The will tell you that once you go through that gate it is either or.The difficulty, as I see it now, it to drop and the romantic, sentimental, self-centered approach to death. At the same time we may learn how to recognize it here and now in every single breath. To be familiar with changes taking place. to accept that this is fleeting, going and not just tomorrow. Every moment. So being aware of death is a formidable opportunity to come back in the present ( as many old Greek philosophers pointed out).

    The rest is metaphysics. And why not? But I am not a big fan of this way of looking at the universe.
    The fact is that psychologically, the thought of death has the power to unleash hope and fear and with them pictures that haunt us like strange ghosts ( some ghosts coming from some kind of future). And this terrifying or blissfull how is a direct expression of a deluded activity.

    Living in and out of the Being-time expressed by Shikantaza and spoken of by Dogen, we are invited , on the spot, to drop all worries and expectations. Not because we should, but just as there is not anymore need for them.

    Have a great Sunday


    gassho




    Taigu

  34. #34

    Re: Fear of Death

    Death. I don't think about it. Used to. Used to have all kinds of thought like who will come to my funeral when I die, and what I will tell everyone when I get cancer, and yadayadayada. Zazen is now. Not then. Thoughts come and go, the best we can do is practice I think.

    Gassho

    W

  35. #35

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by anista

    I was, among other things, referring to rebirth, and how your stream of consciousness continues even after you are dead. This would be an outcome of samsara. If we come from nothingness, and end up in nothingness, there is no samsara, and there is no liberation from samsara. Without liberation, Buddha was wrong. If Buddha was wrong, why be a buddhist? You see my chain of reasoning?
    This is a very literalist view of rebirth. If you search around, you'll see many who view it in more of a metaphorical sense (Jundo included). We are born and die in every moment, karma expressing itself in every second.

    You are right that Zen does not emphasize rebirth (especially literal reincarnation). I think that is because it does not matter. Or as the Buddha might have said, "the question does not fit the case." As Brad Warner mentioned (discussed recently), if reincarnation exists, then you are already living the result of a previous life--better use it well! And if reincarnation doesn't exist, then this life is the only one you've got--better use it well!

    So, if you say that someone doesn't "believe" in reincarnation isn't a Buddhist, well I think you will find many, many who would disagree. Sorry if I am misinterpreting your words. From reading your posts, I can see you are studied in the Theravadin texts, and it just seemed like perhaps you are annoyed with how Zen deals with many of these.

    Also, you mention say that "there is a way to perceive that which came before, and that is through practice"--by this do you mean that through practice you can perceive past lives? If so, what do you mean by "practice"?

    Finally, the only thing I will say about "...how easy it is to neglect, discard or contradict the Buddha's teachings under the guise of the zen banner" is... the Buddha was human! I think we should always question the teachings (though not necessarily discard). Blind faith is dangerous. Especially when, like so many religious texts, the recorded teachings have been through so many translations over the centuries after being recorded only centuries after the death of the Buddha. Who knows, maybe the Buddha didn't exist! Not trying to be incendiary, just highlighting that our day-to-day experience is really all we have.

    OK, that is very rambling. I hope it makes sense. I really like to read your posts, they are always very interesting!

    Gassho,
    Matt

  36. #36

    Re: Fear of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    Quote Originally Posted by Matto
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    How do we know that life is rare or not so rare? ... I guess what I am saying is that I don't like to talk about how "special" or "precious" life is,
    Rare, maybe we'll never know, but I would definitely argue for precious. Life is so fragile, we are here for such a short time, and it's certainly wondrous.

    But it isn't a simple matter, as you've elaborately noted!
    I think that in the shortening of my quote up there, the meaning has been somewhat altered. The whole thing is:

    "I guess what I am saying is that I don't like to talk about how "special" or "precious" life is, nor do I like to cynically define it as something heavy, biological and meaningless. I just don't know what... [life] is..!"

    I don't want anyone coming away from my post with the idea that I don't find life to be absolutely wonderful, wondrous, precious, awesome, (insert adjective); etc, in my own human way.
    Ah, sorry! I didn't mean to misrepresent your thoughts!

    -Matt

  37. #37
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    1,220

    Re: Fear of Death

    I was fairly close to death once. Though not exactly at the brink, I was yet close enough. But really, how close do you have to be? I found the experience very life-giving and life-changing. Honestly, I can't imagine my life without my encounter with death. There's Zen there, folks.

    Anyway, I stumbled upon this "proof" that death does not exist, so I post the link here. I warn you; it's loooong.
    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2grsGB...stions-we-face

  38. #38
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: Fear of Death

    Hi Anista,
    I agree with Taigu Sensei and Matt's recent posts. I'd love to quote many of the wonderful things they say on the matter but in keeping my response more simplified I will not be doing so.

    Anista wrote:
    when I was 1, I too did not have the five senses or the physical form. No matter how many photographs there are of me, I don't remember anything.
    I don't understand how you consider yourself not to have had physical form or the 5 senses? Do you believe that because you don't have memories you didn't physically exist? Did you not see light, hear sound, taste milk? Just because you don't remember those experiences does't mean you didn't have them. What about the photos. They are picture proof of your physical form. Yet you still reject them? It seems like you put less belief in your own photos, which you have seen, than in words of someone(not the buddha)which is supposed of someone else's words(the buddha's) that you've read.

    However, the Buddha (and several others) did see how their senses and forms were in previous lives.
    They did? How do you know?

    I was, among other things, referring to rebirth, and how your stream of consciousness continues even after you are dead.
    It does? How do you know?

    I was, among other things, referring to rebirth, and how your stream of consciousness continues even after you are dead. This would be an outcome of samsara. If we come from nothingness, and end up in nothingness, there is no samsara, and there is no liberation from samsara. Without liberation, Buddha was wrong. If Buddha was wrong, why be a buddhist? You see my chain of reasoning?
    Ideas like Samsara, reincarnation, karma, etc were not original ideas of the Buddha but rather the prevailing thoughts of Hinduism which the Buddha incorporated. If the teachings of Hinduism weren't available to the Buddha would he even have come up with such things on his own? Say he was born into a culture of Christian prevailing thought do you not think Buddhism would be different? So then what exactly is this Buddhism that you seem to be so concretely set on as a fixed way to judge who or how one should be Buddhist?

    Gassho,
    John

  39. #39

    Re: Fear of Death

    Ideas like Samsara, reincarnation, karma, etc were not original ideas of the Buddha but rather the prevailing thoughts of Hinduism which the Buddha incorporated. If the teachings of Hinduism weren't available to the Buddha would he even have come up with such things on his own? Say he was born into a culture of Christian prevailing thought do you not think Buddhism would be different? So then what exactly is this Buddhism that you seem to be so concretely set on as a fixed way to judge who or how one should be Buddhist?
    Remember the example of an old cow, She's content to sleep in a bam. You have to eat, sleep, and shit. That's unavoidable. Beyond that is none of your business. ~Patrul Rinpoche
    When you meet the Buddha on the road kill the Buddha. I always thought about this quote.

    When Buddhism begins to get in your way, drop Buddhism and keep going.

    As one wise person once said; We do not yet understand the realm of man, how then we we understand the realm of the gods. We do not yet understand life, how then can we understand death...

    The teachings should be a reminder to sit and practice. To smile and show love. Concepts are nice, they help, but in the end, do they really matter. Buddha said his teachings are like a raft, to be let go of when the time is right. The teachings are not to be fixed into stone, they are alive and growing in each of us. With this in mind, embrace the Buddha, hug the Buddha, but the moment he starts to get annoying smack him upside his head and put him in time-out

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  40. #40
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: Fear of Death

    Hi All,

    Just to clarify I have nothing against the Buddha or his teachings. My point is that I believe Buddhism to be more dynamic than static. The fact that there are many different sects of Buddhism clearly shows that the teachings of the Buddha have been digested and incorporated by the minds of many. None of the ways being more or less valid than the others. I believe the buddha's message is like a compass. As long as you arrive does it matter whether you traveled in a big boat or small boat(just metaphors for the different interpretations of the teachings). Should we not seek what the Buddha sought without getting caught up in concepts along the way? The finger and the moon yes? Perhaps this is the trappings of the study of Buddhism? I like the idea of dropping the concepts and just sitting, so I go with it. I believe that shikantaza is the ultimate expression of the Buddha way. I also understand that this is only how I feel about things. No right no wrong.

    Gassho,
    John

  41. #41
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sarnia, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    2,053
    Blog Entries
    119

    Re: Fear of Death

    This certainly is a fascinating thread. As much as death fascinates anyone that is able to get past their fear of it, is it really important that I understand it? Should I waste too much time on it?
    Shohei wrote;
    Thing is I wasted so many moments worrying about death!!
    I was once told by a ninety-three year old that she believed her death would be a wondrous and enjoyable experience and, if it wasn't, "who cares?"
    She lived to be 103 but, her last six or seven years were in a state of vegetation such as she had truly feared.

    I've always believed, at least since I was four years old when I witnessed my grandmother's death and how it affected those about her, that we are packets of energy waiting to be released back into the universe. I recall the prayer learned at my mother's bidding, which concludes, "and should I die before i wake ....." (of course i also wondered where god was going to take my soul !! :roll: ) And, then came the scientific postulation that energy is neither created nor destroyed. :shock:
    This is perhaps why I feel so comfortable with zazen. 'Right Nows', the present moments, are all that we trully have. Is this the way we wish to spend them?

    Realizing that we shall probably never end this thread, i'd just like to say, " Please forgive me, I forgive you; thank you, I love you!"

Similar Threads

  1. Fear of (method of) death
    By AlanLa in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 01-25-2012, 08:34 PM
  2. Fear
    By kirkmc in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 06-15-2011, 06:50 PM
  3. Fear
    By zeta in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 35
    Last Post: 06-25-2009, 05:51 PM
  4. 7/13 - The Bottleneck of Fear p.17
    By Jundo in forum "BEYOND WORDS & LETTERS" BOOK CLUB
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 07-19-2007, 03:59 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •