How are you preparing for death?

A forum for discussing aspects of dying and death. Please be mindful when posting in this section.
mirrormind
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:21 pm

Re: How are you preparing for death?

Post by mirrormind »

Sentient beings are dying all around us all the time. If we are lucky, we are somewhat shielded from confronting this harsh reality until later in life. But eventually the finality of losing loved ones close to one's heart will catch up with everyone. So this topic, unlike us, never gets old.

I don't think Dzongsar Khyentse's book "Living is Dying" has been mentioned yet. It should answer a lot of questions around preparing for death, one's own and that of others:
- Simple Practices to Prepare for Death
- How Buddhists Prepare for Death
- How to Be with the Dying
- What to Say to a Dying Person
- Questions About Caring for the Dying and the Dead
- What to Do After Death
- About Practices for the Dead
and much more.
You can't think your way out of samsara.
mystic_poet
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2023 8:31 pm

Re: How are you preparing for death?

Post by mystic_poet »

i read bardo thödol and other holy books. alao meditate and try to help people.
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clyde
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Location: Walnut Creek, CA

Re: How are you preparing for death?

Post by clyde »

How are you preparing for death?

A question that deserves an honest answer.

At 75 and in the midst of deciding if, after two surgeries, I undergo radiation treatment for a reoccurring cancer, I can say that “preparing” depends on age and circumstances.

From the time my wife and I married in our mid-30s, we saved for retirement. In our 50s, we had a Living Trust and Health Care Directives made, and in our early 60s we arranged for cremation. I guess the ‘proper’ answer is “to put one’s affairs in order.”

We’ve talked about death, even joked about it, and have accepted our eventual demise as the natural course it is. Another Zen story that I read 50 years ago in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones and has stuck with me is this:
78. Real Prosperity

A rich man asked Sengai to write something for the continued prosperity of his family so that it might be treasured from generation to generation.

Sengai obtained a large sheet of paper and wrote: "Father dies, son dies, grandson dies."

The rich man became angry. "I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family! Why do you make such a joke as this?"

"No joke is intended," explained Sengai. "If before you yourself die your son should die, this would grieve you greatly. If your grandson should pass away before your son, both of you would be broken-hearted. If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have named, it will be the natural course of life. I call this real prosperity."
And I’m reminded of a Dharma talk (and later essay) by Norman Fischer about his departed spiritual brother, Rabbi Lew and the ‘lesson’ Rabbi Lew learned from a death of someone he was transacting a purchase with - “When you’re dead, you can’t do anything.” (Here’s a link to the Dharma talk: https://everydayzen.org/teachings/in-me ... s-passing/ and the article Suffering Opens The Real Path)

I’m not much for ceremony, rites and rituals, or traditions, but in the Zen tradition I have composed a Death Poem, actually Death Poems as I’ve rewritten them over the years (which is also traditional). And given my current circumstances, I’m likely to rewrite it again.

So, how does one prepare for death? By letting go.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: How are you preparing for death?

Post by Kim O'Hara »

clyde wrote: Fri Jan 27, 2023 1:26 am ... in the Zen tradition I have composed a Death Poem, actually Death Poems as I’ve rewritten them over the years (which is also traditional). ...
Death Poems are important in one of the series by Pattison which starts with Skull Mantra - https://www.bookdepository.com/Skull-Ma ... 0312385392 - although I can't remember which one.

It's the only time I've come across the idea in Tibetan Buddhism so I don't know whether it's legitimately part of the tradition.

:coffee:
Kim
HePo
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 3:39 pm

Re: How are you preparing for death?

Post by HePo »

clyde wrote: Fri Jan 27, 2023 1:26 am How are you preparing for death?

A question that deserves an honest answer.

At 75 and in the midst of deciding if, after two surgeries, I undergo radiation treatment for a reoccurring cancer, I can say that “preparing” depends on age and circumstances.

From the time my wife and I married in our mid-30s, we saved for retirement. In our 50s, we had a Living Trust and Health Care Directives made, and in our early 60s we arranged for cremation. I guess the ‘proper’ answer is “to put one’s affairs in order.”

We’ve talked about death, even joked about it, and have accepted our eventual demise as the natural course it is. Another Zen story that I read 50 years ago in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones and has stuck with me is this:
78. Real Prosperity

A rich man asked Sengai to write something for the continued prosperity of his family so that it might be treasured from generation to generation.

Sengai obtained a large sheet of paper and wrote: "Father dies, son dies, grandson dies."

The rich man became angry. "I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family! Why do you make such a joke as this?"

"No joke is intended," explained Sengai. "If before you yourself die your son should die, this would grieve you greatly. If your grandson should pass away before your son, both of you would be broken-hearted. If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have named, it will be the natural course of life. I call this real prosperity."
And I’m reminded of a Dharma talk (and later essay) by Norman Fischer about his departed spiritual brother, Rabbi Lew and the ‘lesson’ Rabbi Lew learned from a death of someone he was transacting a purchase with - “When you’re dead, you can’t do anything.” (Here’s a link to the Dharma talk: https://everydayzen.org/teachings/in-me ... s-passing/ and the article Suffering Opens The Real Path)

I’m not much for ceremony, rites and rituals, or traditions, but in the Zen tradition I have composed a Death Poem, actually Death Poems as I’ve rewritten them over the years (which is also traditional). And given my current circumstances, I’m likely to rewrite it again.

So, how does one prepare for death? By letting go.
Perhaps of interest to you - Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death compiled by Yoel Hoffmann.
I have an older hardcover copy - about 40 pages are poems by Zen monks .
Kai lord
Posts: 612
Joined: Sun May 15, 2022 2:38 am

Re: How are you preparing for death?

Post by Kai lord »

Knotty Veneer wrote: Mon Aug 29, 2022 8:51 am How are you preparing for death?
By attempting to master my sleep and dreams
Malcolm
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Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: How are you preparing for death?

Post by Malcolm »

Kim O'Hara wrote: Fri Jan 27, 2023 5:38 am
clyde wrote: Fri Jan 27, 2023 1:26 am ... in the Zen tradition I have composed a Death Poem, actually Death Poems as I’ve rewritten them over the years (which is also traditional). ...
Death Poems are important in one of the series by Pattison which starts with Skull Mantra - https://www.bookdepository.com/Skull-Ma ... 0312385392 - although I can't remember which one.

It's the only time I've come across the idea in Tibetan Buddhism so I don't know whether it's legitimately part of the tradition.

:coffee:
Kim
There are such things as last testaments (zhal chems), which are usually uttered in verse, so, it is quite common.
Vases, canvas, bucklers, armies, forests, garlands, trees
houses, chariots, hostelries, and all such things
that common people designate dependent on their parts,
accept as such. For Buddha did not quarrel with the world!

—— Candrakīrti. MAV 6:166
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