Dying with Smile

revised on 2019-07-25

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 30th March 1961

[Jāṇussoṇi brahman said to the Buddha that in his view everyone is afraid of death. The Buddha answered that it was not right. There were four kinds of persons afraid of death, whereas the other four kinds of persons not afraid of death. (AN.4.184 Abhayasuttaṃ)

Four kinds of persons afraid of death are:

① Someone attaches to the family members and wealth and when he comes near to death, he's afraid of dying. Sorrow, lamentation, pain and grief follow because he has to part from these things. He doesn’t understand that family members and wealth are truth of dukkha. He dies with attachment, pain and agony. The rebirth will be peta.

② Attachment to one’s own body also will die with fear of death.

③ Someone having done a lot of unwholesome things in his life becomes remorseful and fearful during dying.

④ Someone not understanding D. A. process and having doubt on future rebirth fear of death coming in because of ignorance.

The other four kinds of persons not fearing of death are the opposite. These are: No attachment to the family members and wealth; No attachment to the body; Doing wholesome deeds and Having No doubt.

For these four points to be succeeded:

1. One should practice insight (vipassanā) and understand the true nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta of these things.
2. Practice insight to understand one’s own nature.
3. Practice as much as possible in daily life.
4. Contemplate vedanā near death.

In these ways a yogi will face death fearlessly. Even can realize Nibbāna near death, or sure for good rebirth and realize Nibbāna in next life. It was mentioned by the Buddha in the Aṅguttara Nikāya. One can know the rebirth which is good or bad by looking at the face of the dead body. The bodily posture is also an indication. For example, the head is turning to the right side. ]

Today talk is concerning to everyone. We are going towards death from our births. From sitting, sleeping, eating and drinking, etc. one second to one second is going towards death. This is the surest things and other things are not sure.

We are vaṭṭa persons (persons in the round of existence). Therefore are always running on the same path. All are in grumbling with we are old and will die. Just only in grumble but never find the way out. I am giving this talk for finding the way out and become fearless at near death.

You must make the decision of becoming one of the four kinds of persons fearless to death. How it can be a good rebirth for you while going towards death with fear! It is not only for good rebirth going to die without fear but also it will end dukkha.

① Painful feeling will arise near death. You don’t want to be separated with family members and wealth so you become fearful with displeasure, sorrow, lamentation, pain and grief. This is because not knowing that death is the truth of dukkha—maraṇaṁ pi dukkha saccaṁ. One becomes attachment due to not knowing and can’t let go of wives, children and wealth. Mind with fear leads to sorrow, lamentation, pain and displeasure.

② One taking one’s own khandha as self (atta) becomes fearful near death.

③ Fear comes from the unwholesome actions (akusala kammas) which had been done by him himself before; thinking about things one had wasted time with it.

④ One doesn’t know the beginning and the ending of D. A. process (i.e., ignorance → volitional formation and birth → aging and death). One doesn’t know such as both "Where did I come from?" and "Where will I go?". One doesn’t have faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha. Doubt will come in near his death for all this kind of person.

You all understand the D. A. process. Contact (phassa) conditions feelings (vedanā), after contact ceases and feeling also ceases—in this way contemplate the impermanence of feeling. With the Path Knowledge arises birth aging and death can’t arise. So, you die with no doubt.

The four fearless persons are the result of vipassanā practice, with the contemplation of impermanence, dukkha and not-self. They are sure to good rebirths and for ending dukkha. I urge you all to die with the practice. Also encourage your parents, family members and friends to do it. With this in the next life will finish the practice.

These were taught by the Buddha. So have faith in it. Never let go of vipassanā practice. A person died with smile, the head turned to the right side, and the complexion was clear and had a pleasant look. These were the causes of seeing the good rebirth and the power of Nibbāna. Die with an ugly face can be born in one’s home as lizard, cockroach and dog.

From now on you have to practice for the overcoming of feelings. At near death these feelings will come. When you see the cessation of feelings, as feeling ceases so too craving also ceases (Vedanā nirodha → taṇhā nirodho), and then the Path knowledge appears.

Running in circle is the ugly death. Smiling death is cutting off the circle. Near death don’t let yourself in shame for others to see your situation. The corpse itself is showing the sign of it. Even in your life you had done good merits such as building monastery, lake and shrine (ceti).

But in near death you can’t remember them, if the painful feelings are becoming very strong. Vedanā is sticking to the khandha. You have to insert knowledge between feelings (i.e., between each feeling). Feeling is passing away. The inserting knowledge is the path factors (magga). Vedanā and ñāṇa have to go in this way. Feelings do never exist in continuity. Only exist as rise and fall.

So you will see the passing away. Is it still in pain, numbness and aches? After seeing them a lot become disenchantment. Without them will be cool. Then ñāṇa making a decision as it’s only the truth of dukkha. And then feeling comes to an end. Vedanā and khandha end together at the place, and Nibbāna appears. This is a person dies with the freedom from the round of existence.

So, he has to smile. All of you have listened to my talks and at the time of death will know what happen. If you die with an ugly face what a shame! So, try hard not to become like this.

revised on 2019-07-25; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4049&p=35720#p35720 (posted on 2019-01-10)

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