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The Buddha Explained: Death is not the End


Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many precious lives have been lost and many are dying every day across the universe. Amidst the dark clouds, there are also hopes of better days emerging across the horizon as all human kind reconciles with the cycles of tragedy and destiny.

By Sanjoo Thangjam

Inevitably I, Sanjoo Thangjam, am going to die – so does everybody, every plant, every form, every living beings which follows the same path. Soon it will be autumn, the leaves will fall of the trees. We do not cry, it is natural that is what the leaves are supposed to do at the end of the season. Human beings experience the same thing.

So don’t be afraid. Death is the cessation of life processes that eventually occurs in all -living organisms. The state of death has always been obscured by mystery and superstition. The precise definition of human death remains controversial and differs according to traditional beliefs. Human beings have more fear on death. They also cannot understand that one day they have to face death.

That is why they worry unnecessarily about it. Worrying about it will not make death go away, so why not accept it calmly?

Death comes to all

Some die in their prime, others in old age, but all must inevitably die. Invited we come into this world and unbidden we leave it. We know not whence we come nor whither shall we go, as we leave the world, we go forth the darkness, naked and alone.

Kid and kin, friends and relations can accompany the death man up to his grave but not further. Only his deed forth weds, good or bad go forth with him. However, death is not the end of a life. Death comes to all and is part of our life cycle.

The quotations written below are the sayings of the founders of several religious teachers as well as great philosophers, thinkers, scientists, historians, psychologists, politicians, free thinkers and from some other publications, too. Their names and references are given below in many places. There are also many other sayings where references are not given. Most of them are extracted by me.

No death without birth

One day the Buddha advised Ananda. “If anybody should ask the question as to why death takes place, tell them that death takes place because of birth. If there is no birth then there is no death. If you try to prevent death by force, then you do not understand nature. You are in fact going against the laws of nature.”

The setting sun in one country becomes the rising sun in another country. So the setting sun is not the end of the sun. In the same manner, death itself is not end of a life.

Death is the beginning of a life. Birth brings the death certificate. So if we want to avoid death, we must prevent.

Do something for others

Death is no cause for sorrow, but it would be sorrow if one dies without having done something for oneself and for the world.

Nothing to bring and nothing to take away

At birth we bring nothing; at death we take nothing way – Chinese proverb

Death is a rhythm of nature

Death is not unique event in our progress. It is part of a continually recurring rhythm of nature, making a crisis in the history of the individual – Dr Radhakrihanan

A hero dies only once

Cowards dies many times before their deaths, the valiant never tastes of death but once – William Shakespeare

To run away from death

Struggle for survival means trying to run away from death. There is no life without death and there is no death without life.

Life without death can be a burden

If there were no death, life would become stagnant, monotonous, unspeakably burdensome and boring.

If man were given the insight to realise and know the time of his death, he would definitely act differently from what he is doing presently. Death is only physiological erosion of the human body.

In memory of the departed

When Prophet Mohammed was asked what one must do in memory of departed parents, he advised the questioner to dig a well for people to drink water to quench their thirst.

Why be afraid of death?

The world is afraid of death, to me it brings happiness – Guru Nanak

Why fear death?

To be afraid of dying is like being afraid of discarding an old worn-out garment.
As long as there is fear of death, life itself is not being lived to its fullest and at its best.

No self to die

We are all a combination of mind and matter and as such there is actually no individual self to die.

Birth, death, rebirth

In brief, the combination of mind and matter is called birth. Existence of these two groups as a bundle is called life. Dissolution of these two is called death. And recombination of these two is called is rebirth.

Nobody returned to tell us

Strange, is it not, that of the myriad who before us passed the door of darkness through, not one returns to tell us of the road which to discover we must travel to – Omar Khayyam

Learn how to die better

To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can men die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods? – Lord Macaulay

Fear breeds death
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard.
It seems to me most strange.
That man should fear, seeing that death.
A necessary end will come when it will come.
– William Shakespeare

What we received after

A rich man, prior to his death, bequeathed $1000, 000 to three persons, namely his doctor, his priest and his lawyer, on the understanding that at the funeral ceremony each of them should deposit the allotted sum into the coffin before the funeral takes place.
The doctor announced that he had deducted $ 25,000 being amount of medical bills due to him and that he had deposited the remaining balance into the coffin.
The priest also said that he had to deduct $30,000 on account of roof repairs to his place of worship and only the balance he had placed in the coffin.
The lawyer said that he was acting according to the law and accused the other two persons for disappointing the deceased. He accordingly deposited his entire $ 100,000 allotted to him, plus the total amounts spent by the other two, but in the form of an Account Payee Cash cheque, which he placed into the coffin.

LIFE after death is not a mystery

The difference between death and birth is only a thought-moment: the last thought-moment in this life conditions the first thought-moment in the so-called next life, which, in fact, is the continuity of the same series.

During this life itself, too, one thought-moment conditions the next thought-moment. So, from the Buddhist point of view, the question of life after death is not a great mystery, and a Buddhist is never worried about this problem. Ven Dr W Rahula

Name never dies
Man’s body turn to dust, but his name or influence persists.

Then What dies?
– Old photographers never die; they just stop developing,
– Old accountants never die; they just lose their balance,
– Old lawyers never die; they just lose their appeal,
– Old professors never die; they just lose their faculties.

SAMSARA – The repeated birth and death

The constant succession of birth and death of each individual life-flux is technically known as samsara. Samsara is the recurrent wandering of life-flux in the ocean of death and birth.

“This life-stream or samsara flows and ad infinitum as long as the muddy waters of ignorance and craving feed it. When these two are completely cut off, then only does the life-stream cease to flow to flow; then rebirth ends, as in the case of the Buddha‘s and Arahants”.

The ultimate beginning of this life-stream cannot be determined, as a stage cannot be perceived when this force was not fraught with this life force was not with ignorance and craving.

The rounds of rebirths or samsara do not automatically come to end. Nor is there any point at which all beings revolving in samsara, gain their release by reason of its ceasing, for it has no temporal boundaries.

Religious people usually have less fear of death than materialistic people, because materialists are particularly interested only in this life to satisfy their senses and developing their attachment towards their property.

(The writer is a Social Activist for People Who Use Drugs (PUDs)  

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