This next question by Alavaka is something that weighs on the mind of mankind. Since we became self-conscious, man has been wondering and worrying about death and the afterlife. Philosophers offered differing opinions and religions arose from those efforts. Each part of the world offers its unique explanations. If we study the 32 planes of existence, we realize that unenlightened beings recall part of the big picture and each one offered a piece of the big puzzle.
For example, the Buddha explained that beings in heaven also experience impermanence. They pass away from heaven when their good karma is exhausted. Consequently, some of them were reborn as humans. Some of these humans can recall glimpses and snippets of their former existence. When they spread and share knowledge of their visions, religions arose.
In Buddhism, we believe that all sentient beings are reborn after death. This was taught by Buddha after He remembered all His former lives and after He examined the existences of other sentient beings. (by the way, He also taught us how to do that in the Kevatta Sutta).
SO WHAT IS ALAVAKA’s NEXT QUESTION? How does it relates to our afterlife?
Alabama: When passing from this world to the next, how does one not sorrow?
Yasse’te caturo dhammā – Saddhassa gharamesino
Saccaṁ damo dhitī cāgo – Sa ve pecca na socati
Buddha: If a faithful householder is truthful, wise, energetic, and fond of giving, by virtue of these four qualities, he will not sorrow when he passes on.
In the previous post, we examined how Truthfulness is good for fame. Truthfulness makes us favorable in the eyes of gods and men. In this post, we talk about death and the afterlife.
Upholding truth in our speech is meritorious and creates good karma. When we abstain from lying we obtain the trust of other beings. If we consider it carefully, we will realize that our life becomes easier when people trust us, like us, and respect us. Thus, being truthful creates good affinities with beings in this life and the next.
Besides abstaining from telling lies, we should also learn to face the truth in life. Unfortunately, many of us may choose to manage difficult circumstances in life by turning away from the truth. This is very typical of human beings. For example, we deal with our mortality by not thinking about it. Such an approach to life can have a far-reaching effect. I am talking about how we deal with relationships in life.
Sometimes we justify our bad behavior or selfishness by turning our minds away from the truth. Or we spin malicious lies to justify our own faults. We are too afraid to acknowledge our ugly personalities. In that manner, we continue to behave badly and live our life in accordance with our lies, lies that we concoct for ourselves. Over a period of time, we may even forget about the hard-to-accept truth and live a life of lies. For example, when our relationship with someone turns bad, our ego spun a tale of lies to justify our own imperfections or turn away from our faults. Unfortunately, all these lies will unravel at our deathbed.
We might have forgotten about such lies now, but according to great meditators, it will all come back to us in flashes at our last moment. When that happens, we have to face the hard truth. We are forced to face our bad actions and acknowledge them. At that moment, our regret will be instantaneous and unavoidable. Dying with regret is regrettable. In that manner, we are reborn with regret.
If we have a huge lie weighing on our minds, we are burdened by it. That burden prevents a good death. This is why many people decided to unburden their minds by disclosing the truth when their time is near. Although better late than never, the damage to one’s mind has been done.
Moreover, lies also mean that we have something to hide. When we tell a lie, we fear being exposed. That kind of stress and fear does not bode well for a dying person. Naturally, those negative energy will carry over to the next life too.
Therefore, it is better that we abstain from lying and learn to face the truth.
To be wise in Buddhism means that we have the ability to recognize truth. It is not about mundane wisdom where we try to outsmart others and win some material gains. An example of wisdom would be the wisdom to know that lies are harmful to ourselves.
Or wisdom to recognize that life and possession are impermanent. Whatever we own now is just temporarily in our possession. We will have to let them go upon death.
Or wisdom to recognize the stress of existence. To be alive, we need to find food every day, thus we work. We have to keep our hygiene to protect our health. We suffer from fatigue and old age. The list goes on and on. This is known as the imperfection of Samsara. That is why Buddhist aim to escape Samsara.
All the above wisdom makes it easier for us to let go and not grasp. When we learn to let go and be at peace, we find tranquility. That makes the transition between death and rebirth an easier one.
This refers to not procrastinating and fulfilling one’s duties. We do not want to waste our life away and regret our inactions on our deathbed. In other words, live our life fully so that we do not have any regrets.
If we miss a dear one, look them up. Don’t spin lies for ourselves. Take actions so that we have no regrets.
To a Buddhist practitioner, the most important duty is to practice and attain various spiritual goals. Such as attaining jhana or samadhi. Attaining enlightenment.
Charity is the practice of giving. We give material goods, money, time, effort, care, concerns, love, Dharma, and etc. Giving is the practice of letting go. We let go of our money, material possessions, ego, self-concerns, etc. Therefore, charity builds very positive affinities with others. It is a meritorious activity that will lead to happiness in this life and the next.
In summary, the above four factors will help us face our mortality without sorrow. In addition to that, we will also enjoy a favorable rebirth.
May all be well and happy.
Iṅgha aññe’pi pucchassū – Puthu samaṇabrāhmaṇe
Yadi saccā damā cāgā – Khantyā bhiyyo na vijjati
If you wish, ask of other recluses and brāhmins, if there is anything better in this world than truth, self-control generosity, and patience.
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