Birth and Death

A few weeks ago I had an email from a woman who studies with me. The subject line was, Death. This is how she contemplates preparation for death: “I think that living in the moment and welcoming each new experience and letting go of the last is preparation for death. That learning to do that in meditation and being willing to let go helped us get beyond birth and death so that death is just the next step, when the time is right”.

Today the author of the email and I talked on the telephone. Our last contact before she has a potentially life threatening medical procedure. I gave words of support and encouragement; offered my thoughts on the use of the rosary to help keep focused, pointed to faith and reminded her that many people will be offering merit. She quietly said, “Thank you” and I knew there was very little I could or even needed to say. She iswell prepared.

In the opening paragraph of the Shushogi (What is Truly Meant by Training and Enlightenment), Great Master Dogen speaks about the necessity of understanding birth and death completely and of letting go, of going beyond the opposites. The paragraph ends with, “The understanding of the above breaks the chains that bind one to birth and death therefore this problem, which is the greatest in all Buddhism, must be completely understood”.

The chain referred to is the chain of dependent origination. Simply put, this is a description of how beings remain bound within the cycle of birth and death. There are twelve links in the chain of dependent origination and another twelve that describe how the cycle ceases.

So, there is nothing like having impermanence come into ones life for focusing on basic practice and the reasons for training in the Way.

All Merit offered for those who sit in waiting rooms and for those whose life may hang in the balance.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 thoughts on “Birth and Death”

  1. The world is full of synchronicities, or perhaps just coincidences…

    in my most recent post on death, and dying I began with a quote from the Shusogi:

    “The thorough clarification of the meaning of birth and death – this is the most important problem of all for Buddhists.”

    I have been asked how to take care of a dying Buddhist, and your post here raises some points that I hadn’t considered, the offering of merit and use of rosary – for example.

    I would be very grateful if you could provide your own response to this question, how do you take care of a dying Buddhist?

    Best Wishes

    Gareth

  2. A very timely blog entry Rev. Mugo. My wife wife has had something of a close call which sure focuses the mind. There’s more detail in my blog titled, “The Immediacy of Death”
    I am very gratefull for your regular entries. Its like having you drop in every day back here in Lancaster.
    Lets hope your purse is soon returned to you.

  3. Thanks Norman, as you can see I linked to your posting about meditation. It worked very well for me, the way you described it.

    It would be a help if you can switch on the ‘links to this post’ because I then get a specific address for the individual article. I think you might have help close at hand for this if you need it.

    No, the purse has not turned up but the lady, Ruth, who I got bent out of shape with yesterday came on the phone just now. She was so helpful, and I was able to verbally make bows over the phone. Must be a hard job being on the front desk of a bank.

    I was thinking of talking about the ‘kicking the dog’ syndrome. You know, bad day at work, come home and let off steam to burn up the frustration. My frustration was not at her or the bank it was with me for having lost my purse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.