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The Teachings Of Great Master Yin Guang

Whether one is a layperson or has left the home- life, one should respect elders and be harmonious to those surrounding him. One should endure what others cannot, and practice what others cannot achieve


The Sweetest Smile Yet

As we come to the end of our treatise on Loving and Dying, I should make it clear that I do not at all claim to be an authority on living, loving or dying. But I have tried to share some thoughts on the subject with you, thoughts about how to live and die with love and understanding all along the way


A World Of Anomalies

Reading the newspapers and newsmagazines can give us much food for reflection. Besides the orbituaries, there are grim reminders of uffering all over the world, though we may have become quite numbed to it.


Contemplation On Death

While we are alive it is good to contemplate on death now and then. In fact it is good to do it daily. The Buddha recommends frequent contemplation on death because there are many benefits to be gained from such contemplation. Let's look at how we can benefit in contemplating on death.


Our Death Should Be Serene

All of us have to die one day. Our death should be serene and peaceful. Therefore when someone is about to die we should make it as serene and beautiful for him or her as possible. Yes, are you surprised that death can be beautiful? If you are, it is because we normally have dosa or aversion towards death. There is fear of pain and the uncertainty of what is to come after death. Then there is attachment to our loved ones which gives rise to much pain in our heart in having to part with them.


We Are Our Own Saviours

Sometimes as a monk I'm asked to go for funeral chanting. I do feel sorry for the bereaved ones but sometimes I also feel quite helpless because there is so much confusion as regards the role of a monk in funeral chanting.


Loving Is Understanding

o die well we must live well. If we have lived well we can die well. There will be no regrets. We can go peacefully, content that we have done what we could, that along the way we have spread understanding and happiness, that we have lived according to our principles and commitment to the ideals of love and compassion.


We Must Do Our Bit

Earlier I said that when I saw the sick, the dying and the dead, two resolutions arose in my mind. One is to be able to take pain and death with a smile, to be able to remain mindful and composed to the very end. Now I wish to touch on my second resolution.


Tribute To Kuai Chan

'd like to tell you about a brave yogi who died peacefully from lung cancer with the word, Nibbana, on her lips. Her name is Kuai Chan and she passed away on December 18,1992 at her home in Kuala Lumpur.


Coping With Disease The Right Attitude

We should not look on disease and suffering as something which will destroy us completely, and thereby giving in to despair and despondency. On the contrary, we (ie. in the case of Buddhists) can look upon it as a test of how well we have understood the Buddha's teachings, how well we can apply the understanding we have supposedly learnt.


Two Resolutions

As I'm writing now, I recall that just yesterday a fellow monk died. He had been suffering from terminal cancer for eight months. When I was by his side at the hospital a few days before his death, he was in pain. I tried to feed him some broth but he could not eat. He looked quite gaunt and grim. He could hardly speak.


Hello Death Goodbye Life

One day when I die, as I must, I'd like to die with a smile on my lips. I'd like to go peacefully, to greet death like a friend, to be able to say quite cheerfully: "Hello Death, Goodbye Life."



I have written this book to share some thoughts on death with anybody who may care to read it. Thoughts about how we can go about facing death - with courage and equanimity. With dignity. And if you like with a smile. Thoughts about how to cope with suffering, to live with wisdom and compassion, or with as much of it as we can muster, until we die.



I am very much indebted to: Santivara for all his hard work in doing the layout and design of this book; and to Tuck Loon for his cover art and illustrations.


Two Resolutions

Thứ tư - 25/09/2013 07:52
Two Resolutions

Two Resolutions

As I'm writing now, I recall that just yesterday a fellow monk died. He had been suffering from terminal cancer for eight months. When I was by his side at the hospital a few days before his death, he was in pain. I tried to feed him some broth but he could not eat. He looked quite gaunt and grim. He could hardly speak.
Loving and Dying

By Visuddhacara

Illustration by Hor Tuck  Loon




As I'm writing now, I recall that just yesterday a fellow monk died. He had been suffering from terminal cancer for eight months. When I was by his side at the hospital a few days before his death, he was in pain. I tried to feed him some broth but he could not eat. He looked quite gaunt and grim. He could hardly speak. The cancer had ravaged his body and it was no easy task for his mind to bear up. I urged him to note or observe the pain as he would do in normal meditation, to remain as calm and equanimous as possible. He was a staunch meditator and I am sure he meditated to the very end.

I remember another occasion when I visited a kind old man who had leukemia He too was in pain. It showed on his face. There were beads of sweat on his forehead and face. I took a towel and gently wiped away his sweat. I whispered into his ear and tried to soothe him. This man too was a meditator and again I reminded him to maintain mindfulness, to observe the pain as calmly as possible. I was happy when the look of pain disappeared from his face. Shortly after, his relatives came and I left him. A few hours later he died. I was glad I was able to help him a little before he expired.

Although there is happiness in life, there is also suffering. The happiness seems so fleeting - gone in no time only to be replaced by sorrow and discontent. Life itself, because it ends in death, is a tragedy. Someone once said life is like an onion: you peel it crying. The Buddha says birth is suffering because it leads inevitably to decay and death. We should understand this well. If we accept life we must accept death. If we want to cry when somebody dies, then we should also cry at his birth. For the
moment a baby is born the seed of death is in him. But we are happy when a child is born. We laugh and we congratulate the parents. If we understand birth - that it must lead to death - then when death comes we should be able to face it with a smile.

Seeing how people die in pain, their body wracked by disease, and seeing how all life must end in death (a fact that is driven home to me every time I went for funeral chanting), two resolutions arose in my mind: First, when the time comes for me to die, I want to die with a smile on my lips. I want to be able to be very mindful and serene. In other words I want to keep my wits about me. I want to be able to smile at my pain no matter how excruciating it may be. I want to be able to smile at all the visitors that may call on me. I want to be able to smile at all the kind doctors and nurses who attend upon me. I want to be able to smile at my fellow patients and to help in whatever way I can in the hospital, whether to inspire or to console.

Instead of the doctors and nurses asking me how I am, I want to ask them: "How are you doc? How are you sister? How is your day today? You know, you are doing a great job. We are very lucky to have you. Please keep up the good work. Thank you very much!" And to my Buddhist visitors, I will speak Dhamma. * I'll  say: Look at me. I'm half-dead. Finished! You know, it's not easy to meditate when you are half-dead. So while you are still healthy,

Hello Doctor, how are you?

make the most of it. Meditate! Practise the Dhamma! Have noregrets later. Don't wait until you become fatally ill. It will be too late then. But if you have been doing your meditation practice now, then when you fall sick it won't be so difficult to face the pain. You can observe and even transcend it. You know, the Buddha tells us that  everything is impermanent. If we meditate hard enough, we can understand the fact of impermanence more deeply, such that we will not be so attached to this mind and body. We will know for certain that this body is not ours; this mind too is not ours. Understanding, we will be able to let go. We will not be so attached to the gross sensual pleasures of life. We can live more wisely. We can grow old gracefully. And we need not fear death.

The Buddha says suffering is inherent in life. And we must learn how to live with it and to transcend it. Only by applying mindfulness in our daily life and by meditating can we penetrate the truth of suffering. When we have understood suffering deeply, we will strive to remove the cause of it, which is our craving, our attachment to life, to the sensual lure of pleasant sights, pleasant sounds, pleasant smell, pleasant tastes and pleasant touch. We will try to purify our mind and heart of all defilements.

According to the Buddha, when our mind is purified of greed, hatred and delusion, we will overcome all suffering. We will never again respond with attachment or aversion to anything. Instead there will be only wisdom and compassion in us. Just this is the end of suffering. Clinging no more we can never suffer. Even physical pain brings no mental suffering as the mind does not respond with aversion or anger. The mind can be calm and peaceful. There is acceptance and understanding. And when we
die with this kind of wisdom and peace, the Buddha says that will be the end of suffering. No more rebirth, no more coming back to this cycle of birth and death. If we do not take on any new birth,  there will be no decay and death together with its attendant suffering. Finished! The curtain falls! This mass of suffering is extinguished. And we can then say, just as the saints of old had said, Done is what is to be done. Lived is the holy life.

Of course, right now we may still be far from the goal. But as they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So I'm an optimist. Yes, I'm a Buddhist and an optimist. (Who says a Buddhist is a pessimist?) And I believe that every step we take on the path of mindfulness shall bring us one step closer to the goal- the goal of Nibbana, the end of all suffering. And being an optimist, I like to think that we will reach it sooner than later.

Saying it with flowers too  And so as I'm lying on my hospital bed, I'd like to speak Dhamma to all those who call on me, or to anybody who cares to listen. And furthermore, I can send flowers to all my friends out there. I might include a card with a message that can go something like  this: "Hello there! How are you? Do you like these flowers? Are they not beautiful? Do you have time to pause and appreciate the beauty of a flower and breathe in its fragrance? And when you look at a flower, do you also see the shining eyes of your loved one or your child? And do you feel and understand their hopes and their fears? Or are you too busy, too preoccupied with your
own worldly plans and ambitions, your pursuit of fame and wealth?

"Have you considered well the nature of impermanence, my friend - how all must fade and die? And how, while we are alive, we ought to live meaningfully so as to have no regrets later. By the way, like the flower that is fading, I too am dying. But I'm sending you good wishes. May you be well and happy! I hope you do find time for your loved ones and for the practice of meditation. You know, making money, acquiring luxuries, enjoying sensual pleasures is not everything. They may feel good for a while, but actually being kind and loving is more important: it will give you more satisfaction and happiness. Forgive me for preaching such platitudes but do give some heed to the words of a dying person. Allow him to say his piece. Yes, while you are alive, you should try to spread as much good cheer and happiness as possible. Forgive everybody. Do not harbour any grudges or consider anybody your enemies. Always remember, life is short and soon we will all be dead. And love is giving, not taking. Love
gives without attaching any conditions. Love expects no return. Try to cultivate this beautiful kind of love. Be happy!" And I'll end with a PS - "Take good care. You need not visit me. But you can be happy for me. For I'm smiling and I'm happy that I can die with a smile on my lips. Cheerio and good luck!"

And if I could not speak because I was too ill, then still I could smile to show that everything was fine, that the disease was only getting my body and not my mind. In that way one can inspire even when one is ill. People might then appreciate the Dhamma more and practise even harder. Of course, if I am addressing my
non-Buddhist friends, I must not impose my religious views upon them. I can express my views but in no way must I impose it upon them. Just as I would not want them to impose their views on me, so too must I not impose my views on them. We must give due respect to each other's religious views and have loving- kindness for each other. In this way, there will be peaceful co- existence.


* Dhamma is what is. It is seeing things as they are. It is the teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha, in effect, taught: "Life is suffering but I have found the way out of this suffering, and I will show it to you." And the Buddha exhorted the people to practise generosity, morality and meditation.

Tác giả bài viết: Visuddhacara

Nguồn tin: Chùa Tịnh Luật

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