Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Tibetan Mindfulness of Death Meditation 2

From Chapter 9 of Tsong Khapa's Stages on the Path of Enlightenment (aka The Nine-Point Death Meditation)

2. The time of death is uncertain.
If  you think every day, “I will die today,” or at least “I will probably die today,” you will act for the benefit of whatever next life you will go to, and you will not make preparations to remain in this life. If you do not have this thought, you will see yourself as staying in this life, and you will make provisions for this life rather than act for the benefit of your next life. For example, when you plan to stay someplace for a long time, you make preparations to stay there. If you think that you are not going to stay there, but are going elsewhere, you make preparations for leaving. Hence, every day you must develop an awareness of the imminence of your death in the following way.

a- The life span in this world is uncertain.
Bear in mind the cases you have seen or heard concerning the gurus and friends who reached the end of their life span but died without fulfilling their intentions, suddenly dying because of external and internal causes. Be aware of death, thinking over and over, “I too am subject to such a death.”

b- The causes of death are very many and the causes of life few.
Furthermore, there are no causes of staying alive that no not become causes of death. In other words, you seek such things as food and drink, shelter, and friends in order not to die, but even these can become causes of death. For instance, you may consume the wrong food and drink, or consume too much or too little. Your shelter could crumble, or your friends could deceive you. Thus, it is clear that there are no causes of staying alive that cannot become causes of death. Since life itself is headed toward death, the conditions for life would offer no security even if they were numerous. (156)

c- The body is very fragile.
The contemplation of the uncertainty of the time of death is the most important of the three roots. This is the very thing that will redirect your mind, so work hard at it. (158)

3. The contemplation that at the time of death nothing helps except spiritual practice

a- Friends will not help.
When you see that you must go to your next life, no matter how many loving and very worried relatives and friends surround you at that time, you cannot take even one with you. (158)

b- Resources will not help.
No matter how many piles of beautiful jewels you have, you cannot take even the slightest particle with you.

c- Your body will not help.
If instead you seek only to find happiness and to avoid suffering up until your death, then you are going to need a course of conduct which surpasses animal behaviour, since animals are better than humans at temporal happiness. (159)

Therefore, although it is quite hard to produce this mindfulness of death, you must work at it because it is the foundation of the path. (159)