Nine Point Meditation on Death
We plan many activities and projects for the coming days, months and years. Although death is the only event that is certain to occur, we don’t usually think about it or plan for it.
Death is unavoidable, because the cause of death is not illness or an accident. The cause of death is birth.
The most powerful part of impermanence is death.
If we can consider the truth of death while we’re going through all these negative emotions, we can realize that they are not that important. Because no matter how much we fight to get and to keep something, we will still lose it. This truth changes our perspective and makes us much happier. It helps us appreciate the life we have right now—moment by moment. It helps us understand that every day is a bonus.
The Nine-Point Meditation on Death
1️⃣Everyone has to die
To generate an experience of death’s inevitability, bring to mind people from the past: famous rulers and writers, musicians, philosophers, saints, scientists, criminals, and ordinary people. These people were once alive—they worked, thought and wrote; they loved and fought, enjoyed life and suffered. And finally they died. Can you can think of an example of someone who was born on this earth but who did not die? There are several billion people on the planet right now, but one hundred years from now, all of these people—with the exception of a few who are now very young — will be gone.
2️⃣ Your lifespan is decreasing continuously
Time never stands still—it is continuously passing. Hold your awareness for a while on the experience of this uninterrupted flow of time carrying you to the end of your life.
3️⃣ The amount of time you have for spiritual practice is very small.
You should start today, now. Calculate how you spend your time: In an average day, how many hours do you sleep? How many hours do you work? How many hours do you spend preparing food, eating and socializing? How much time do you spend feeling depressed, frustrated, bored, angry, resentful, jealous, lazy or critical? And how much time do you spend consciously trying to improve your state of mind, or doing beneficial things such as helping others, or spiritual study or meditation?
Is it enough?
4️⃣ Human life-expectancy is uncertain
Life can end at any point: at birth, in childhood, in adolescence, at any age. It is very difficult to feel convinced that death could happen at any moment. We tend to feel that since we have survived so far, our continuation is secure. But thousands of people die every day, and few of them expected to.
Generate a strong feeling of the complete uncertainty of your own time of death; how there is simply no guarantee that you have long to live.
5️⃣ There are many causes of death
Bring to mind cases of people you know or have heard about who have died, and think of how they died.
6️⃣ The human body is very fragile
Think about this. Recall the times you have hurt or injured your body, and how easily it could happen again. By meditating on these second three points, we will develop the determination to begin our practice of the spiritual path right now, as the future is so uncertain.
7️⃣ Your loved ones cannot help
The only things that will truly benefit us at the time of death are positive states of mind such as faith, non-attachment and calm acceptance of the changes that are taking place, loving-kindness, compassion, patience and wisdom.
When we die, we go alone— no one, not even our closest, dearest loved one, can accompany us.
8️⃣ Your possessions and enjoyments cannot help
Your mind will probably also think of your possessions and property, which occupy a great deal of your time while you are alive, and are a source of much pleasure and satisfaction. But can any of these things bring you comfort and peace at the time of death?
9️⃣ Your own body cannot help
By meditating on the final three points, we should come to realize how important it is to work on reducing our attachment to the things of this life, such as family and friends, possessions, and our body.
We should also realize how important it is to take care of our mind, as that is the only thing that will continue to the next life. “Taking care of the mind” means working on decreasing the negative states of mind such as anger and attachment, and cultivating positive qualities such as faith, loving-kindness, compassion, patience, and wisdom.
The purpose of the meditation is not to make you frightened. Just being afraid of death is not helpful. What is helpful is to be afraid of dying with a negative state of mind and a lot of imprints on your mind from negative actions you have done in your life.
Conclude the meditation with the optimistic thought that you have every possibility to make your life meaningful, beneficial and positive, and in this way you will be able to die with peace of mind.