Help with fear of death

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Help with fear of death

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Aug 02, 2013 6:59 pm

I know all the standard Buddhist answers to why we fear death, and why we should not.

I'm wondering if anyone has any personal practices or bits of wisdom though they've picked up regarding this fear.

Throughout my life i've had bouts of depression that basically manifest in one way or another as a fear of death, sometimes stuff bordering on hypochondria, sometimes just a very pronounced, ridiculous level of fatalism.

I've tried various therapy modalities over the years..the conclusion I came to is that the best of them (for me at least) was EMDR, which really is just a form of insight meditation, so I pretty much gave on modern psychology as help, because the modalities that seemed to help were usually just meditation dressed in modern clothes. Daily practice keeps it at bay, yet I know the fear makes me more self-centered, and interferes with daily life some.

Anyway, it's an odd thing, it's like a loop going in my head constantly. At times i'm able to disregard it, but at other times it's hard to ignore.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:20 pm

Maybe try this: When you are falling asleep imagine you're dying. Let your senses weaken and fade and next morning think that you died and were reborn. Imagine your funeral. Practice the Eight Visions.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:40 pm

Konchog1 wrote:Maybe try this: When you are falling asleep imagine you're dying. Let your senses weaken and fade and next morning think that you died and were reborn. Imagine your funeral. Practice the Eight Visions.


Thanks konchog, i've been practicing sleep yoga for just this reason, and it is helping.

I don't remember what the eight visions are, can you give me a refresher?
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:05 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I don't remember what the eight visions are, can you give me a refresher?
From your HYT Sadhana. During the stage of taking death as the path.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:11 pm

Instead of fearing death i find it is more beneficial to focus on how to best use this precious human life.

Anyway, why be afraid of something you have done an infinite number of times already?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Ayu » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:42 pm

Before i became buddhist i had often fear of dying in the second before i fell asleep. This vanished by Vajrasattva-Practice after one year, i think.

And if it became better, it was a good thing to meditate on dying in different manners from time to time. To look at the moldering body... To imagine the different lifes from birth to death to reincarnation to birth to death... Just look at it and don't classify.

Also don't classify fear itself. It is an uncomfortable feeling - but while breathing meditation one can just look at the fear also. Fear tries to be a friend, a protector, but it uses the wrong means and fights against the wrong enemies. The practice of "demon-feeding" (Chod) may be helpful to learn about the use and the existence of fear. („Why is this fear here?")

For the mental hygiene it is good to face the fear one has. Especially when it is not too strong, not too big, it is good to deal with it. When i slowly started to climb towers, it was helpful against my fear of spiders also.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby NIRMAL2 » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:12 pm

I'll be 61 soon but I have not lived for 61 years.My 61 years have died.
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Monsoon » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:43 pm

After I was diagnosed with NIDDM I went through a period of depression centred around thoughts and fears of death, particularly with regard to it happening before what I considered a fair lifespan. It took me months before I began to understand that the fear was not the issue, the real problem was the constant dwelling on death. Virtually every moment of the day I felt my thoughts turning toward death.

What advice can I offer? Nothing specific, except that it takes time and diligence to bring one's awareness back from the despond of death to the present moment of life. There will be many times one will fail, slippages are a constant danger, but in time a calmness returns that almost feels like an awakening.

I am happier now than I have been in years. I would like to say that it is my practices that have made this possible but that is only part of the story. One doesn't have to be a follower of Dharma in order to be at peace with death.

Not sure that any of this helps much, Johnny D, and yet I wanted to say that you are not alone.
Let peace reign!

Metta,

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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:54 am

Thanks very much for the help guys, it was cathartic just to put it out there.

I would love to do Chod, I have thought about it for this very reason. I got to just watch someone perform a Sadhana at retreat, and give brief explanations, and even that really stirred something.

I'm pretty new to Vajrayana though, and atm there is no opportunity for empowerment for it, hopefully that changes in the future.

Lately I am also trying to focus on how this fear prevents me from helping others, in particular those around me/closest to me most often, and find more opportunities to interact with them and thus leave the fear behind for a bit. That is the worst part of the fear, it's like at this point I hardly even take the fear seriously anymore, but it is always running in a loop and can easily suck me into this very self-absorbed, fatalistic world if i'm not careful. It's a very self-centered fear. Especially bad because I know people who really do have current life-threatening illnesses etc, and could use some comfort:(.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:10 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I would love to do Chod, I have thought about it for this very reason. I got to just watch someone perform a Sadhana at retreat, and give brief explanations, and even that really stirred something.

I'm pretty new to Vajrayana though, and atm there is no opportunity for empowerment for it, hopefully that changes in the future.
You don't need an empowerment to do Chod practice, you just need a lung for the practice. In the Karma Kagyu tradition I practice in you need to have started the Ngondro mandala offerings, actually they are considered related practices. In other traditions/lineages you can do Chod from day one. Actually you can even make it your sole practice.

There is a really short (essential or pith) Chod practice that you could get a lung for and easily practice daily.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby LastLegend » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:22 am

I have fear of death. Ain't gonna lie, but it does not manifest as much. However, I've been haunting by my own unwholesome thoughts ('ghostly' forms to be exact) in my sleep.

Take care
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Ayu » Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:48 am

LastLegend wrote:I have fear of death. Ain't gonna lie, but it does not manifest as much. However, I've been haunting by my own unwholesome thoughts ('ghostly' forms to be exact) in my sleep.

Take care

If one detects a fear, it is a very, very good thing to deal with it. It is like an opener. Instead of avoiding it, it is good to go into it in meditation. Watch it, face it, meet it and learn to know it. Slowly.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby WuMing » Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:55 am

Four Reminders
Joyful to have
Such a human birth,
Difficult to find,
Free and well-favored.

But death is real,
Comes without warning.
This body
Will be a corpse.

Unalterable
Are the laws of karma;
Cause and effect
Cannot be escaped.

Samsara
Is an ocean of suffering,
Unendurable,
Unbearably intense.


Composed by the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
© 1974 by Chögyam Trungpa


gregkavarnos wrote:Instead of fearing death i find it is more beneficial to focus on how to best use this precious human life.


Good point!

IMHO, that has to go hand in hand. I guess, there is a reason that in the four reminders PRECIOUS HUMAN BIRTH comes first. Maybe it would be helpful for you to go back to this first reminder and work with that. This could help to reduce your fear of death.

Here is also a good one:
http://www.andrewholecek.com/the-four-reminders/

Anyway, what is exactly your fear of death? Why do you fear death?
今以佛眼觀之佛與眾生同住解脫之床。無此無彼無二平等。
Now, observing with the eye of the Buddha, both the Buddha and ordinary beings are in the same liberated state. There is neither this nor that: there is only non-duality and identity.
- 空海 Kūkai 弘法大師 in Unjigi 吽字義 The Meaning of the Letter Hūṃ
new translation: Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi Shingen and Dreitlein Eijō
_______
Our life is very simple, very direct, very beautiful, very vast and very terrifying, but it is not at all convenient.
- Anzan Hoshin Roshi
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:35 pm

You don't have to fear, you don't have to feel loss, you don't have to suffer.

Realizing emptiness is what we're here for. It is the prime objective, it's our goal. All these other things we do are to either accomplish wisdom realizing emptiness or to comprehend and relinquish feeding.

Human lives are short, our bodies are frail. There's a limited amount of effort we can sustain as humans, fortunately wisdom realizing emptiness is far below that limit. If people can exert a lifetime of effort working towards pathetic aims like a beautiful body or possessions, surely we can put a little effort into ending all our grief with wisdom realizing emptiness.

Study, study, study. As Westerners we've been exposed to a lot of ridiculous hype about "emptiness" and it takes regular study just to correct the brainwashing of our societies that would have us thinking with tv show logic.

Then it takes work to realized. Fortunately, if you are practicing sadhanas, a portion of the generation is that work. It is not listed in many(maybe most) sadhanas, either because the writers thought Westerners either knew already or were too stupid, but in the generation of a deity there should be a line starting with, "Om Sobhava Shuddoh", and this is where you use reasoning like dependent arising and four point analysis to see the emptiness of particular objects and then objects in general. It's a skill you develop, like taking apart and diffusing a bomb. And when you have seen the emptiness of a particular object of that phantom false appearance of it as inherently real, you say the mantra starting with "Om Sobhava" as a confirmation of sorts.

Obviously you cannot do this essential part of the sadhana correctly without learning the reasonings and clearing away the notions of emptiness taught to you by the ninja turtles or 365 days of Zen dogs calendars.
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:40 am

Ramon1920 wrote:Then it takes work to realized. Fortunately, if you are practicing sadhanas, a portion of the generation is that work. It is not listed in many(maybe most) sadhanas, either because the writers thought Westerners either knew already or were too stupid, but in the generation of a deity there should be a line starting with, "Om Sobhava Shuddoh", and this is where you use reasoning like dependent arising and four point analysis to see the emptiness of particular objects and then objects in general. It's a skill you develop, like taking apart and diffusing a bomb. And when you have seen the emptiness of a particular object of that phantom false appearance of it as inherently real, you say the mantra starting with "Om Sobhava" as a confirmation of sorts.
Really? Generally commentaries on a Sadhana practice will say this.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Ramon1920 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 4:04 am

Maybe things have changed Konchog.

In the past sadhanas were typed on a type writer or hand written and copied.
Riddled with errors, omissions, alterations, unclear notations, some were no more than crude notes taken during teachings.
Barely speaking English and with limited time, getting clear instructions in brief was a challenge.
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:08 am

Ramon1920 wrote:Maybe things have changed Konchog.

In the past sadhanas were typed on a type writer or hand written and copied.
Riddled with errors, omissions, alterations, unclear notations, some were no more than crude notes taken during teachings.
Barely speaking English and with limited time, getting clear instructions in brief was a challenge.
Hurray for the internet :twothumbsup:
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby Ramon1920 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:08 am

As you get older, the deaths of people you know becomes more frequent. The more people you know, the more often people you know die.

So it is better to realize the emptiness of phenomenon ASAP. The sooner you do, the more grief you can spare yourself.

When you're afraid, study. Apply the reasonings that generate the emptiness view.
When you're in pain, work to be of benefit. Do something useful. If you're in pain already you might as well take care of the hard tasks.
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby LastLegend » Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:26 am

While talking about dealing with fear of death, it is hard to know if we have overcome it until we are facing a situation where we struggle to survive.

Take care
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Help with fear of death

Postby lobster » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:03 am

It's a very self-centered fear


Self centered where and how? In other words what does it feel like in the body? What is the feeling? Where is the feeling located?

Interestingly emotional states have a corresponding body sensation and dealing with that and finding a way to transform sensation is often a lot easier than mind on mind . . . :twothumbsup:

Hope that is helpful for you :yinyang:
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