Die Joyfully. (Preparing for a Joyful Death Experience through Meditation and Mindfulness)

Live Mindfully. Die Joyfully.”- Bhante Sujatha

“I have a terminal illness, with a 100 percent chance of dying. It’s called living.” -Blue Lotus Temple Member

IMG_3241My closest friends joke that their life goal is “happy, healthy, dead.” I always laugh when they say this. Most of us would like to stay happy and healthy until the end.

But there is something missing for me. Unless we die in our sleep or so suddenly we don’t know what hit us, I think it’s valuable to prepare ourselves for the actual experience of dying. I can make plans for my soul to be saved, my money to be multiplied and my children to be comforted. I can find ways to avoid regrets and make peace with the fact that I die. But how do I imagine the experience of leaving it all behind? How do I prepare for my death before I enter the hospice or see the texting driver coming my way? Can my death be a joyful experience?

The answer, according to Buddhist traditions, is a resounding yes. It turns out that meditation is great practice for dying. In addition to the practice of withdrawing from the outside world (helping us prepare for the REAL withdrawal), and noticing our breath (which is the perfect reminder of the present moment, free from fear, even as we die), we can remember three root truths* as we meditate.

Root One: Death is certain. (There is only one way out of this game called life. We must accept this.)

Root Two: The time of death is uncertain. (We are separated from death by one breath at all times. We must act immediately on our spiritual and mental development.)

Root Three: Nothing can help at the time of death except my mental and spiritual development. (We must learn to be happy alone, without our possessions.)

Life is terminal, and fast. The bullets are flying out there. If we stand up, we’ll get hit. And we all eventually stand up. I’m going to practice faith, mindfulness, and loving kindness as if my life, and my death, depend on it.

“How do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it’s time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within if only we would listen to it, that tells us certainly when to go forth into the unknown.”- Elisabeth Keebler Ross


* The three root truths are from the Tibetan Buddhist Nine Point Meditation On Death ( I found this on THEDAILYENLIGHTENMENT.COM)

“Root ONE: Death is certain.

1. No being has ever escaped death [unless one becomes enlightened].

2. I am constantly becoming closer to death.

3. There is not much time to practice Dharma.

Conclusion: I must practice Dharma

Root TWO: The time of death is uncertain.

4. The lifespan of human beings is not fixed.

5. More conditions endanger life than support it.

6. This body is extremely fragile.

Conclusion: I must practice Dharma now.

Root THREE: Nothing can help at the time of death except my Dharma practice.

7. Wealth can’t help.

8. Friends and relatives can’t help.

9. Your body can’t help.

Conclusion: I must practice Dharma purely.

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