A Buddhist Guide to Death, Dying and Suffering
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health is simply the slowest way a human being can die." - author unknown
November 25, 2011 - An old man was found dead in the waiting hall of a train station in Taiyuan, the
capital city of North China’s Shanxi Province. Among his fellow passengers was a Buddhist monk.
in the Light of Death ...Larry
Everyone must die...
The remainder of our life span is decreasing continually.
Death will come regardless of whether or not we have made time
to practice the dharma.
Human life expectancy is uncertain.
There are many causes of death.
The human Body is very fragile.
Our wealth cannot help us.
Our loved ones cannot help.
Our body cannot help.
A Buddhist Prayer for the Dead and Dying
Oh Buddhas and Bodhisattvas abiding in all directions,
Endowed with great compassion,
Endowed with foreknowledge,
Endowed with divine eye,
Endowed with love,
Affording protection to sentient beings,
Please come forth through the power of your great compassion,
Please accept these offerings, both actually presented and mentally created.
Oh Compassionate Ones, you who possess
The wisdom of understanding,
The love of compassion,
The power of doing divine deeds,
And of protecting in incomprehensible measure,
[...................................] is passing from this world to the next,
[He/she] is taking a great leap,
The light of this world has faded for [him/her],
[He/she] has entered solitude with their karmic forces,
[He/she] has gone into a vast silence,
[He/she] is borne away by the great ocean of birth and death ..…
Oh Compassionate Ones, protect [......................] who is defenceless. Be to [him/her] like a mother and father.
Oh Compassionate Ones, let not the force of your compassion be weak, but aid them.
Let [...........................] not go into the miserable states of existence.
Forget not your ancient vows.
The Five Powers to Develop for a Happy Successful Death
(These are explained in the tradition of Thought Transformation; see the Recommended Reading list for books on Thought Transformation)
1. The Power of the White Seed: purify negative karma with the 4 powers of regret, reliance, remedy and resolution; give up attachment to your possessions and make offerings of them; meditate upon refuge in the 3 Jewels, give rise to positive thoughts such as Bodhicitta; reaffirm your commitment to whatever spiritual goals and values you cultivated during your life
2. The Power of Intention: develop in your mind strong, positive resolutions such as not allowing your mind to come under the influence of negative, disturbing emotions; or not letting your mind be separated from the altruistic attitude of Bodhicitta
3. The Power of Remorse: remembering the disadvantages of the disturbing emotions, protect yourself from being overwhelmed by them
4. The Power of Prayer: make strong prayers never to be separated from Bodhicitta, not to be dominated by the misconception of self or the disturbing emotions, to obtain a fortunate rebirth in the next life to be able to continue your practice of the Dharma, etc.
5. The Power of Familiarity: utilize whatever difficulties you face at the time of death to reflect on the teachings, e.g. the suffering nature of samsara, and to develop compassion for all beings; when the time of death comes, lie on your right side with your right ring finger blocking your right nostril (this is the posture the Buddha adopted during his Parinirvana); meditate on “taking and giving”; and on the emptiness of true existence of all things
Further Reading on the Thought Transformation Tradition (the 5 Powers)
· Beresford, Brian, trans. Mind Training Like the Rays of the Sun. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1992
· Gyalwa Gendun Druppa. Training the Mind in the Great Way. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1993 trans. by Glenn H. Mullin
· Geshe Rabten and Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey. Advice from a Spiritual Friend. London: Wisdom, 1976, 1984
· Chodron, Pema. Start Where You Are . Shambhala. USA, Aug 2001 (Also other books by this author)
...Articles of Interest...
Buddhism and the Funeral ...Urban Dharma Newsletter / PDF File
for Pain, Illness, and Death ...Thanissaro
Buddhist Approach to Patient Health Care ...Kusala
Look at Good Health and Buddhist Medicine ...Urban
Suffering in Christianity and Buddhism: The Same or Different? ...Urban Dharma Newsletter / PDF File
...An interview with Ajahn Pasanno
and Suicide ...Damien Keown
Through Death ...Yvonne Zhang
the Aged and the Sick ...Ven. Thich Thanh Tu
Sick and Terminally Ill ...Lily de Silva
Buddhists go to Heaven? ...Kusala Bhikshu
Needs of the Dying ...Ven. Pende Hawter
Reflections on Death. ...Ven. V. F. Gunaratana
Hospice... Being of Service ...Frank Ostasesk
to Euthanasia in Vinaya ...Damien Keown
View on Death and Rebirth ...Ven.
Thich Nguyen Tang
and the Morality of Abortion ...Michael G. Barnhart
Audio Files in MP3 / Free Download
Rev Sandra Yarlott - 10/2006 - 49 min - MP3 - 11.4 MB // Rev. Kusala's interview
Sandra Yarlott, Director of the UCLA
Medical Center Spiritual Care Dept... Rev. Yarlott
speaks on the challenges of running a Spiritual Care Dept. in Los Angeles...
of training new hospital chaplains and some of the religious issues patients
face in getting well or dying. For more information on the UCLA Medical Center
Download / Podcast/MP3 - 11.4 MB
Bhikshu / Podcast - Q & A
- Spirituality and Healing in Medicine -
12/2005 - 43min - MP3 - 9.7 MB // Questions and answers
workshop at the Spirituality and Healing in Medicine
Conference - Boston, December 2005. A variety of
Sex, death and dying, karma, heaven, the problem with
oneness, etc. This conference was sponsored by the
School Department of Continuing Education and George
Washington University. A complete list of conference
can be found at: (Conference
Download / Podcast/ MP3 - 9.7 MB
Notes on a Theravada Buddhist Approach to Spiritual Care to the Dying and the Dead
(Originally written for people offering Buddhist Spiritual Care)
Insight Meditation Center by Gil Fronsdal
In PDF - Free Download - 115 KB / Click Here
e-Books from Urban Dharma
/ Free Download
Buddhist Reflections on Death
22 Pages - (153 KB)
Buddhist Refection's on Death - V. F. Gunaratne
According to the Buddhist way of thinking, death, far from being a subject to be shunned and avoided, is the key that unlocks the seeming mystery of life. It is by understanding death that we understand life; for death is part of the process of life in the larger sense. In another sense, life and death are two ends of the same process and if you understand one end of the process, you also understand the other. Hence, by understanding the purpose of death we also understand the purpose of life.
Eight Prayers to Benefit the Dead
29 Pages - (440 KB)
Eight Prayers to Benefit the Dead FPMT 2007
This booklet contains the eight prayers that are traditionally done in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries when someone passes away. According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, we absolutely must do something to benefit those beings who have died. Rinpoche recommends Medicine Buddha Puja, Medicine Buddha practices in general, and this collection of eight prayers as being the most important practices to do at this time. In addition, one may do the practice of Prostrations to the Thirty- Five Confession Buddhas. That practice is included at the end of this booklet.
of the Medicine Buddha
Pages - (895 KB)
of the Medicine Buddha Dharma Master Hsuan Jung.
In the Mahayana tradition of East Asia, particularly China,
Japan, Vietnam and Tibet. The Medicine Buddha occupies a special
place in the hearts of Mahayana Buddhists. Specialising in
curing diseases, both physical and mental - of which delusion
root cause. His healing acts are but the prelude to Supreme
Enlightenment for those seekers who have the good fortune
learn of his vows or merely to hear his name! -
to a Buddhist Funeral
46 Pages - (1,084 KB)
Guide to a Proper Buddhist Funeral Koperasi Buddhisme
This is a hand book on Buddhist Funerals, with sections on
practical advice as to what is to be done when a family member
ill; the final moments; when death takes place; preparing for
the funeral; paying last respects; the final rites; verses
contemplation; the burial / cremation ceremony and the memorial
Theravadin Buddhist Funeral
58 Pages - (1,542 KB)
Theravadin Buddhist Funeral Ven. Suvanno.
Generally, a Chinese funeral is a mixture of Taoist, Confucian
and Buddhist rites. How then should a Theravadin Buddhist
be conducted? Venerable Suvanno, a respected and senior Theravadin
Buddhist monk of Chinese descent explains how a Theravadin
funeral may be conducted. -
120 Pages - (2.7 MB)
Dying to Live - The Role of Karma in Dying and Rebirth
purpose of this work is to present a comprehensive picture of
kamma and the often unpredictable role it plays in the process
of dying and rebirth according to orthodox Theravada doctrine.
the aid of colour diagrams, basic concepts of Abhidhamma are
first introduced in order to facilitate a thorough understanding
of what happens, on a microscopic level, to the body and mind
of a person dying to live again. Since kamma is inextricably
linked with Abhidhamma principles, and our main subject of discussion
is one of its specific roles, the whole of Chapter 2 is devoted
to an exposition of the nature of kamma and its various aspects,
classified according to four different ways of analysis.
3 begins by surveying the causes of death and the possible manifestations
of the kamma that is about to produce rebirth in the dying person,
and concludes by presenting a microscopic description, accompanied
by a colour diagram, of the actual process of dying and rebirth,
based on the basic principles of Abhidhamma introduced in Chapter
Chapter 4, the order in which specific types of kamma generate
rebirth is discussed with the help of many interesting storie's
mostly extracted from the commentaries, but including a few
modern one's and accompanied by pencil drawings.
Chapter 5 summarises and concludes this booklet with some
for skilful dying, and a dramatic personal account of a young
monk's own observations and masterly manipulation of the
visions experienced by a dying Buddhist devotee. -
for Death & Helping the Dying
66 Pages - (199 KB)
for Death & Helping the Dying
booklet is based on material used during a seminar that
Khadro taught in Singapore and elsewhere, entitled “Preparing
for Death and Helping the Dying.” This seminar answers
a genuine need in today’s world, as expressed by one
“I am interested to know more about death and how to
help dying people, but it’s very difficult to find anyone
willing to talk about these things.” The material for
the seminar is taken mainly from two sources: traditional
and contemporary writings in the field of caring for the dying.
This booklet is meant as a brief introduction to the subject
rather than a detailed explanation. -
Many Faces of Death
56 Pages - (485 KB)
The Many Faces of Death Jacqui James
a life partner, a family member or a close friend of yours
dying. How might she or he be feeling? Facing death, being
in pain maybe. What are her or his intimate needs and wishes?
happens to us when staying with a dying person? How can we
deal with the sorrow, the confusing thoughts and the trying
How should we communicate with her or him and with the family
members and friends? When a beloved person is dying we are
to our deepest core. Difficult, painful emotions may rush up,
stirring in our hearts. Dying and death becomes a great
breaking into our lives which we try so hard to keep
smooth and under control. -
Readings -- Buddha's Words of Wisdom
284 Pages - (1.8 MB)
Readings -- Buddha's Words of Wisdom by Ven. S. Dhammika.
For over two thousand years the discourses of the Buddha have
nourished the spiritual lives of countless millions of people.
This book contains extracts of the early Buddhist discourses
from the Pali Tipitaka, and also from some post-canonical
Presented so that one reading can be reflected upon each day
of the year. This book is an indispensable companion for anyone
trying to apply the Buddha's gentle message to their daily
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