According to Buddhism, death is the separation of the mind and body. Each living being has a mind or consciousness which continues to exist after the death of the body, and takes a new rebirth. Each of us has had countless previous lives, and we will continue to be reborn again and again without choice or control until we develop our mind to the point where we are able to gain control over this process. When the consciousness moves from one life to the next it carries with it the karmic imprints or potentialities from previous lives. Karma literally means “action” and all the actions we do with our mind, speech and body leave an imprint on the mind or consciousness. These imprints can be positive, negative or neutral, depending on the action. They will ripen when the appropriate causes and conditions come together, giving rise to positive, negative or neutral experiences.
As such, awareness of and meditation on death are extremely important in Buddhism for two reasons:
- by realising that our life is transitory, we will be more likely to spend our time wisely, in a beneficial and meaningful way;
- by understanding the death process and becoming familiar with it, we can overcome fear and other disturbing emotions that might arise at the time of death, and thus be able to die with a clear, calm, positive state of mind, and ensure a good rebirth.
How to help someone (who is not a Buddhist) cope with death??
If the dying person belongs to another religion, encourage them to have faith, to pray, to have positive thoughts, etc. in accordance with their religious beliefs and practices. Don’t try to impose your own beliefs or try to convert them.
Guide him to acknowledge and affirm all the deeds and actions that he has done in this life that are positive and meaningful. If the person has no religion and he is open to the idea, can try to teach him to chant the Buddha’s name to build confidence.
The people or things which he hates or covets must not appear before him at all costs, so as to allow him a calm and peaceful environment to leave this world.
Actually it is utmost important to know what to do at the point of death as it determines the next rebirth for your loved ones…
See the following video to know what to avoid.
Helping Others Who Are Dying…
The best way to help someone who is dying is to help them to have a positive, peaceful mind. That means being free of disturbing emotions such as fear, anger, attachment, depression, etc.
In the case of a loved one, it’s best to learn to let them go. Clinging to them will cause their mind to be disturbed. Best is to be calm and peaceful; willing to listen to whatever they wish to say; be kind and sensitive and supportive, but try to avoid strong emotional reactions.
For those who are dying, can practice the technique of visualisation, i.e. visualise that the suffering of all sentient beings is being turned into black smoke that enters his left nostril, then being converted into white smoke with the energy from his body, wealth and kindness – and leaving his body through his right nostril to all sentient beings.
Doing so can help alleviate the pain caused by his illness. It is advisable to let him lie down on his right side during the moment of his passing, as this will minimise any disturbance and encourage virtuous thoughts!
There is a good article regarding preparation of death on BWM website: http://bwmonastery.org.sg/en/articles/ilness-death/how-can-we-help-the-terminally-ill-to-face-death/
Dealing with death starts from your living days, I guess. From the viewpoint of dealing with our own death instead of someone else’s, most of us would be afraid of death as we do not know where we go after the last breath, and we are accustomed to fearing of the unknown. A Buddhist should understand in general that death is part of life, just as birth, aging and sickness are. That is why it is important to have strong faith in what and how your religion guides you on how to spend your living days so that when your time is up, you will go without fear.
I guess in our living days, we have to keep reminding ourselves of impermanence in life, while learning how to let go & not being so attached to things and people.
In this way, we would not have to go through the immense sufferings from the fear of separation with loved ones and also material things we owned in our life…
I believe dealing with death while we are still alive, is probably one of the greatest lessons we ought to learn in this lifetime.
Besides letting go and not being attached, Buddhists also believe that the deceased is still around for the 49 days after death, so the family can do a lot of chanting for the deceased and carry out virtuous deeds under the deceased’s name so that the deceased will walk the ‘right’ way and not go to lower realms.
The above video if follow closely even a none believer of AMITUOFO and Pureland can be save if the dying person realise it at death bed up to bardo state . If the patient believe , take refuge in TRIPLE GEM and whole heartedly chanting Amituofo sincerely , even with one pure 念 Amituofo; Amituofo bring them to Pureland ( 18th vow) . Even if not rebirth in Pureland, they will be reborn in the upper realms.
Chanced upon this useful video on how to deal with death…
Buddhists believe that death is a crucial moment.
We could have heard about not touching or disturbing the body within a certain time period after a person’s death.
Master Sheng-Yen provides some advice:
After watching the video, I think it will be rather hard to control how our body is treated after death - especially in our society which is not really exposed to Buddhist practices.
I guess the best thing for us is to train our mind better for when our time comes up so that we are not as affected by how others treat our body - a “stinking bag of skin”.