what to do when i'm dying?

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what to do when i'm dying?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:55 am

what are theravada instructions on this?

let's say i'm lying in a hospital bed with a terminal illness and six weeks to live.

then let's try something more immediate and say i got poisoned and have only two days to live.

then even more immediate let's say i've been stabbed and am bleeding to death slowly over a half hour or so.

and finally a heart attack, extreme pain and i'm dying in less than a minute or two.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:07 am

Mindfully observe the phenomenon, seeing it as impermanent and free of self.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:15 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Mindfully observe the phenomenon, seeing it as impermanent and free of self.


by "seeing it as impermanent and free of self." do you mean watch whatever is happening and then mentally speak to myself, reminding myself of these things? or just watch with that knowledge already logged into my mind?
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby kirk5a » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:23 am

Here's one:
[Anathapindika:] "I am not getting better, venerable sir. I am not comfortable. My severe pains are increasing, not lessening. There are signs of their increasing, and not of their lessening. Extreme forces slice through my head, just as if a strong man were slicing my head open with a sharp sword... Extreme pains have arisen in my head, just as if a strong man were tightening a turban on my head with a tough leather strap... Extreme forces carve up my stomach cavity, just as if an expert butcher or his apprentice were to carve up the stomach cavity of an ox with a sharp butcher's knife... There is an extreme burning in my body, just as if two strong men, seizing a weaker man with their arms, were to roast and broil him over a pit of hot embers. I am not getting better, venerable sir. I am not comfortable. My severe pains are increasing, not lessening. There are signs of their increasing, and not of their lessening."

[Ven. Sariputta:] "Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: 'I won't cling to the eye; my consciousness will not be dependent on the eye.' That's how you should train yourself. 'I won't cling to the ear... nose... tongue... body; my consciousness will not be dependent on the body.' ... 'I won't cling to the intellect; my consciousness will not be dependent on the intellect.' That's how you should train yourself.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Here's another recommendation. Suitable for everyone? I don't know.
74. The purpose of the practice

Ajaan Bate, a close relative of Luang Pu's, lived at Khoke Mawn Monastery. Even though he ordained only late in life, he was extremely strict in his practice of meditation and the ascetic practices. Luang Pu once praised him, saying that his practice had gotten good results. When Ajaan Bate fell seriously ill and was near death, he said that he wanted to see Luang Pu one last time, to bid him farewell before dying. I informed Luang Pu, who went to see him. On his arrival, Ajaan Bate got up and bowed down to him and then lay back on his sleeping mat as before, without saying a word. But his smile and the happy look on his face were easy to see.

Luang Pu said to him in a voice both clear and gentle,

"All the practices you've been trying to practice are specifically meant for use at this time. When the time comes to die, make the mind one, then stop focusing and let go of everything."

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajaan_ ... Legacy.htm
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby danieLion » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:29 am

Let go of negative mental states like fear and regret and cultivate wholesome mindstates like goodwill and equanimity.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:36 am

"what to do when i'm dying?" Be mindful, and start now before it is too late.

When I am sick and/or in pain these are times when I work really hard to do my meditation practice.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:43 am

kirk5a wrote:Here's one:
[Anathapindika:] "I am not getting better, venerable sir. I am not comfortable. My severe pains are increasing, not lessening. There are signs of their increasing, and not of their lessening. Extreme forces slice through my head, just as if a strong man were slicing my head open with a sharp sword... Extreme pains have arisen in my head, just as if a strong man were tightening a turban on my head with a tough leather strap... Extreme forces carve up my stomach cavity, just as if an expert butcher or his apprentice were to carve up the stomach cavity of an ox with a sharp butcher's knife... There is an extreme burning in my body, just as if two strong men, seizing a weaker man with their arms, were to roast and broil him over a pit of hot embers. I am not getting better, venerable sir. I am not comfortable. My severe pains are increasing, not lessening. There are signs of their increasing, and not of their lessening."

[Ven. Sariputta:] "Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: 'I won't cling to the eye; my consciousness will not be dependent on the eye.' That's how you should train yourself. 'I won't cling to the ear... nose... tongue... body; my consciousness will not be dependent on the body.' ... 'I won't cling to the intellect; my consciousness will not be dependent on the intellect.' That's how you should train yourself.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Here's another recommendation. Suitable for everyone? I don't know.
74. The purpose of the practice

Ajaan Bate, a close relative of Luang Pu's, lived at Khoke Mawn Monastery. Even though he ordained only late in life, he was extremely strict in his practice of meditation and the ascetic practices. Luang Pu once praised him, saying that his practice had gotten good results. When Ajaan Bate fell seriously ill and was near death, he said that he wanted to see Luang Pu one last time, to bid him farewell before dying. I informed Luang Pu, who went to see him. On his arrival, Ajaan Bate got up and bowed down to him and then lay back on his sleeping mat as before, without saying a word. But his smile and the happy look on his face were easy to see.

Luang Pu said to him in a voice both clear and gentle,

"All the practices you've been trying to practice are specifically meant for use at this time. When the time comes to die, make the mind one, then stop focusing and let go of everything."

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajaan_ ... Legacy.htm


have you seen the suttas where someone is so sick and the buddha allows them to commit suicide? i think you have to be an arahant for this allowance though. perhaps this guy was not.

"All the practices you've been trying to practice are specifically meant for use at this time. When the time comes to die, make the mind one, then stop focusing and let go of everything."

that sounds PERFECT. quiet discursive thought, then let go.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:44 am

tiltbillings wrote:"what to do when i'm dying?" Be mindful, and start now before it is too late.

When I am sick and/or in pain these are times when I work really hard to do my meditation practice.


so no discursive thinking, just watch the pain and whatnot as you die?
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:03 am

alan... wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:"what to do when i'm dying?" Be mindful, and start now before it is too late.

When I am sick and/or in pain these are times when I work really hard to do my meditation practice.


so no discursive thinking, just watch the pain and whatnot as you die?
What more do you need to do to see the utter impermanence of one's life, to truly let go, which is more important than any warm fuzzy story or desparate pleading you can tell yourself?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:08 am

tiltbillings wrote:
alan... wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:"what to do when i'm dying?" Be mindful, and start now before it is too late.

When I am sick and/or in pain these are times when I work really hard to do my meditation practice.


so no discursive thinking, just watch the pain and whatnot as you die?
What more do you need to do to see the utter impermanence of one's life, to truly let go, which is more important than any warm fuzzy story or desparate pleading you can tell yourself?


indeed. just clarifying. there is so much ambiguity because of all the differing opinions on translating the suttas and so on, wanted to make sure i understood what you were saying.

although i wonder. for the hospital bed scenario i would probably go with concentration (anapanasati or something) to keep the mind empty and then let go when near death. but for a painful death that is relatively quick i think what you suggest is the only way to go.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:27 am

alan... wrote:
although i wonder. for the hospital bed scenario i would probably go with concentration (anapanasati or something) to keep the mind empty and then let go when near death. but for a painful death that is relatively quick i think what you suggest is the only way to go.
Well, you'd better start practicing now. As one of my teachers used to say, "Keep it simple and easy."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby ground » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:32 am

alan... wrote:what are theravada instructions on this?

I guess there are instructions on mindfulness of death.

These may be interpreted as appropriate preparation for dying, to be practiced also when everything seems to be okay and there is contentment or even happiness.

Practing this mindfulness actually boils down to emulating "I am dying now."

Since "now" is continuous the question "what to do ...?" in an imagined future will evaporate.

:sage:
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:34 am

tiltbillings wrote:
alan... wrote:
although i wonder. for the hospital bed scenario i would probably go with concentration (anapanasati or something) to keep the mind empty and then let go when near death. but for a painful death that is relatively quick i think what you suggest is the only way to go.
Well, you'd better start practicing now. As one of my teachers used to say, "Keep it simple and easy."


practice what? i already practice satipatthana and have for years and i do sitting meditation every day, also for years. what does your mindfulness entail, that's where i'm at a bit of a questioning point: is it a cognitive mental process involving discursive thought or is it just pure watching? do you use a meditation object, like watching the breath all day, or is it whatever your doing?
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:38 am

alan... wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
alan... wrote:
although i wonder. for the hospital bed scenario i would probably go with concentration (anapanasati or something) to keep the mind empty and then let go when near death. but for a painful death that is relatively quick i think what you suggest is the only way to go.
Well, you'd better start practicing now. As one of my teachers used to say, "Keep it simple and easy."


practice what?
Whatever you feel you must practice. I know what I do, but what I do is not what you need to do just because I do it. If you cannot find a Theravadin teacher go work with the Zennies. When it comes to matters of life and death, of learning to let go, of the selfless, imperanant nature of what is, the Zennies are no less on target than anyone else.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby danieLion » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:39 am

alan... wrote:for the hospital bed scenario i would probably go with concentration (anapanasati or something) to keep the mind empty and then let go when near death. but for a painful death that is relatively quick i think what you suggest is the only way to go.
i just got out of the hospital with a condition associated with high incidents of fatality and Tilt is right: what you do NOW is directly proportional to how you deal with facing death LATER; when i feared, it was horrible and made more dukkha; when i was mindful and equanimous, it was at least bearable, mostly peaceful, and better for those around me; the latter mind-states would not have been possible without previous Efforts.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby danieLion » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:48 am

alan... wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
alan... wrote:
although i wonder. for the hospital bed scenario i would probably go with concentration (anapanasati or something) to keep the mind empty and then let go when near death. but for a painful death that is relatively quick i think what you suggest is the only way to go.
Well, you'd better start practicing now. As one of my teachers used to say, "Keep it simple and easy."


practice what? i already practice satipatthana and have for years and i do sitting meditation every day, also for years. what does your mindfulness entail, that's where i'm at a bit of a questioning point: is it a cognitive mental process involving discursive thought or is it just pure watching? do you use a meditation object, like watching the breath all day, or is it whatever your doing?

it depends on what you're dying from; if it's associated with respiratory complications (as in my case) breathe meditation is not practical, but I could see it being very helpful with, say dying of some kinds ofcancer; i was too sick to have much thought, let alone discursive thought, and in the moments I was well enough to think, it was clear that discursive thought would only lead to anxiety and distress; it came down to self awareness via sati and uppekha and other awareness via sila (morality)/treating those around me with compassion and empathy and controlling my desires to blame them (or anything) for what was happening to me.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:54 am

tiltbillings wrote:Whatever you feel you must practice. I know what I do, but what I do is not what you need to do just because I do it. If you cannot find a Theravadin teacher go work with the Zennies. When it comes to matters of life and death, of learning to let go, of the selfless, imperanant nature of what is, the Zennies are no less on target than anyone else.


i wasn't planning on completely changing what i do to be what you do just because you do it. but if you have experience in satipatthana some suggestions and explanations would be useful if they can elucidate some points in the practice beyond what books i've read have taught me.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:58 am

danieLion wrote:it depends on what you're dying from; if it's associated with respiratory complications (as in my case) breathe meditation is not practical, but I could see it being very helpful with, say dying of some kinds ofcancer; i was too sick to have much thought, let alone discursive thought, and in the moments I was well enough to think, it was clear that discursive thought would only lead to anxiety and distress; it came down to self awareness via sati and uppekha and other awareness via sila (morality)/treating those around me with compassion and empathy and controlling my desires to blame them (or anything) for what was happening to me.


so you lived it recently, wow. your advice is extremely literal then. thanks very much for sharing.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby danieLion » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:20 am

alan... wrote:
danieLion wrote:it depends on what you're dying from; if it's associated with respiratory complications (as in my case) breathe meditation is not practical, but I could see it being very helpful with, say dying of some kinds ofcancer; i was too sick to have much thought, let alone discursive thought, and in the moments I was well enough to think, it was clear that discursive thought would only lead to anxiety and distress; it came down to self awareness via sati and uppekha and other awareness via sila (morality)/treating those around me with compassion and empathy and controlling my desires to blame them (or anything) for what was happening to me.


so you lived it recently, wow. your advice is extremely literal then. thanks very much for sharing.

:anjali:
I'm like 95% out of the woods as of yesterday/today. But it was serious (there was a carbon-monoxide incident when I was around 20 but I was not a Buddhist then and way too of it to do much of anything). I didn't mind the possiblity of dying so much as what my absence would do to my friends and family. I contacted anyone I could think of I might of had even a little conflict with and tried to resolve them and it was usually just as easy as saying, "I love you." Amazing, those three words. I had the luxury of being assaulted and accosted by dozens of medical professionals to buy me some time to do that, so I don't have a lot of advice for more sudden brushes with death except what I said above. But that just goes to Tilt's point about immediacy. Many of us will die with no warning, so it behooves us to be diligent (nor perfectionistic, though) about how we treat ourselves and others at all times. I'm warming up to rebirth, and if it's real, I think one of it's most important aspects is showing us that how we die is deeply important to how we live again.
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Re: what to do when i'm dying?

Postby jackson » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:16 pm

Greetings Alan,
There's a saying, "die before you die", which is a helpful reminder that we should practice now to liberate the mind, so when death comes there's no clinging to the mind and body as I, me, or mine. Something which I've found to be extremely beneficial is the frequent recollection of death, which gives a great sense of urgency, and also to cultivate the sense of "I am dying" instead of looking at death as something off in the future. We were born, so now we're going to die, we are on our way towards death so we are dying in this very moment. Not trying to be bleak, just realistic. :smile:
Best wishes, :anjali:
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah
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