Buddhist Views on Death
Understanding Buddhist views on death
In Buddha teachings, every individual will eventually die. Death is a part of a natural process of birth, old age and death. People should therefore keep in mind the impermanence of human life, the life that is highly cherished and one that every one wishes to hold on to.
However, according to Buddhists, death is not the end of life but just merely end of the body that humans inhabit on earth. The spirit remains and seeks out through the need of attachment to a new life and body. Where a person will be born according to Buddhist will be dependent on the past and accumulation of negative and positive deeds as well as resultant Karma (cause and effect).
A person would therefore be reborn in one of the six realms according to Buddhism and they include human beings, heaven, asura, hungry ghost, hell or an animal. According to severity of an individual’s karmic actions, Buddhists strongly believe that none of the realms is a permanent place for anyone and it will go on in other forms due to accumulated karma. It is therefore imperative to note that Buddhist views on death is often based on karma and Buddhist teachings and emphasizes on the importance of life include those beyond present life. With this in mind, Buddhists should not fear death as it leads to afterlife or rebirth.
Buddhist views on death and grieving
Buddhist believes that death is a natural process and it is also natural to grieve a loved one, friends or family members. It can be hard to adjust to live without their presence and missing them becomes part of life for the living. By grieving, the pain of losing a person is relieved and people are reminded of the inevitable end that is waiting due to impermanence of life.
Many women in Buddhist community go to Buddha in great anguish carrying dead children with the hope that he would bring them back to life. Buddha would however say, ‘’bring to me a mustard seed from any household where no one had ever died and I will surely fulfill your wish’’.
Karma and death
Buddhists believe that human life and all that occur within it is because of Karma. Every action leads to a new Karma and is created within the body, speech, mind and action that leaves a subtle imprint on the mind that has potential to ripen as future sadness, suffering or happiness depending on whether an individual’s actions were positive or negative.
Buddhists believe that if you bring happiness to people, you will be happy. If you create suffering you experience suffering in this life or afterlife. This is popularly known as the Law of Cause and Effect or the Law of Karma. Karmic law leads the spirit of the dead to be reborn in realms that are ideal for Karmic accumulations.
Buddhists also believe that if you live a good life without causing harm to other humans, sexual misconduct; keep the mind and heart pure, you will die as you have lived. In other words, Buddhists apply the words of Leonardo Da Vinci who once wrote in his book that just as a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings a happy death.
Buddhist views on death and preparation
With karma Buddhism teaching in mind, Buddhists therefore strongly believe that it is essential to prepare for death. This can be done by being responsible, good to others and having a positive attitude towards yourself and others. This generates happiness, calmness and an outlook that ensures a controlled and calm mind at the time of death.
Being aware of life impermanence and a loving attitude towards all living things on earth relieves a person of fear of death. Therefore, Buddhists are strongly advised to live a compassionate and responsible life and they will have no regrets when death approaches. This is one of the reasons as to why a dying Buddhist believer will always request the service of a Buddhist Monk so assist further in the process and making the transitional death experience fear free and peaceful as much as possible.
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