What is Dying? The Journey Begins — A Mahayana Buddhist View

Photo by Mattia Faloretti on Unsplash

Death is often a frightening subject. We are afraid to die. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we are not exposed to death. We have no knowledge or experience of dying as these days; most people die in the hospital. Several decades ago people died at home. Everyone, including young children, had the opportunity to observe a relative dying at home. This experience and knowledge abated much of the fear around dying. ~ from” Barry Kerzin’s FaceBook page.

How does one speak about Dying and Death in the Western world? Mostly with fear and dread from what I have learned during my life.

Are fear and dread good ways of dealing with what we all must go through? I think not. Our fear of death causes us much suffering here in the West. I know I have in the past sustained emotional pain when my loved ones passed. And there have been quite a few in the last few years. Too many if I allow my heart to speak.

Therefore, it is time to learn more about death and the fear of dying from the Mahayana Buddhist viewpoint. My need to learn coincided with one of my friends Barry Kerzin’s posts.

A doctor, a monk, a teacher, a lazy man. All of these things, yet none. ~ Dr. Barry Kerzin.

Dr. Kerzin wrote posts starting in late February regarding The Eight Stages of Death. The posts were detailed and yet understandable.

The timeliness strikes me. And is not lost on me. It is time to understand deeper. It is time to drop the illusion.

Over the next weeks, I will be writing about Death from the Mahayana perspective and delve deeper into the Eight Stages of Dying. Being a person who likes to research and explore a topic, especially one so dear, like this one, there will be quite a few posts.


May this post be of benefit to all sentient beings.

 

 

Present Moment…

“Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts. What good is it to brood over the past and fret about the future? Dwell in the simplicity of the present moment. Live in harmony with the dharma. Make it the heart of your life and experience. Be the master of your own destiny.”
~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Lama Zopa on The Potential of the Mind 

The mind is also empty of true existence, of existence from its own side. This quality of mind, known as Buddha-nature, gives us the potential to free ourselves completely from all suffering, including disease, and the causes of suffering and to achieve any happiness we wish, including the peerless happiness of enlightenment. Since the mind has all this potential, we do not need to feel depressed or hopeless. It is not as if we have to experience problems forever. We have incredible freedom to develop our mind in any way that we wish. It is simply a question of finding the right way to use the potential of our mind. ~ Lama Zopa Rinpoche, “Ultimate Healing”

Dharma with a Zen tone

Troubled and confused is life in the three worlds
It’s not just the way things are today
Things have always been like this
Because you fail to realize the truth
You spend a lifetime chasing about
Reading the Buddhist scriptures, you become
caught up in names and forms
and never return
Practicing Zen, you become attached to nirvana
and end up being mired there
It reminds me of Master Tung-shan’s apt words:
“The moment you set foot outside the gate
Grasses are sprouting everywhere”

~ Ryokanzen garden 12sep14

Everything he does is worship

Surrendering all thoughts of outcome,

unperturbed, self-reliant,

{the sage} does nothing at all, even

when fully engaged in actions.

 

There is nothing that he expects,

nothing that he fears. Serene,

free from possessions, untainted,

acting with the body alone,

 

content with whatever happens,

unattached to pleasure or pain,

success or failure, he acts

and is never bound by his actions.

 

when a man has let go of attachments,

when his mind is rooted in wisdom,

everything he does is worship

and his actions all melt away.

~ Bhagavad Gita