the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat Nov 06, 2010 9:27 pm

Hello Aloka,

Neither "mundane" nor "supramundane" teaching, neither "conventional" nor "ultimate" teaching rejects the teaching of rebirth.

The "ultimate" teaching is just more precise and talks in terms of mental & physical events, while conventional teaching uses ordinary words (such as this person was reborn as a frog, etc etc). In both cases they refer to cittas, cetasika and rūpa.


While mundane teaching is often aimed at showing the path to better rebirth, the supramundane teaching is aimed at stopping rebirth all together.


So in all cases existence of rebirth is accepted.

With metta,

Alex
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sat Nov 06, 2010 9:42 pm

Hi Alex,

Alex 123 wrote:

So in all cases existence of rebirth is accepted.


But this may not be intended strictly in a post mortem sense but could be the way that Ajahn Sumedho speaks of it in 'The Mind and the Way'.

You can see rebirth directly; you don’t have to believe in a theory of rebirth. Rebirth is something that occurs in what you are doing all the time. Now, since there is no self, there is nothing to be reborn as a personal essence or soul, carrying through from one lifetime to the next. However, desire is being reborn; it is constantly looking for something to absorb into or something to become.

If you are unhappy and depressed, you look for something that you can absorb into that will give you some happy feeling, or at least get you away from the unpleasantness of the moment. That’s rebirth.



Metta,

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat Nov 06, 2010 9:52 pm

Hello Aloka,

Aloka wrote:Hi Alex,
But this may not be in a post mortem sense but could be the way that Ajahn Sumedho speaks of it in 'The Mind and the Way'.


The suttas are clear that the end of this body is not the end of cause-effect stream of cittas until arhatship.

There are many suttas that do talk about what is called 'literal rebirth' with phrases such as "at the breakup of the body, after death,".

Read MN129 and MN130.

http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... ita-e.html

Especially take note of
I say this not hearing from another recluse or brahmin, this is what I have myself known and seen and so I say it.
http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... uta-e.html


So all the talk about "Buddha borrowing elements of Hindu society he lived in" are refuted by that one sentence. What He has taught was what he himself has " ...known and seen... ".


With metta,

Alex
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby bodom » Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:10 pm

But this may not be intended strictly in a post mortem sense but could be the way that Ajahn Sumedho speaks of it in 'The Mind and the Way'.

You can see rebirth directly; you don’t have to believe in a theory of rebirth.


Hi Aloka

Ajahn Sumedho doesn't always speak of rebirth strictly in the above manner either...

We must be reborn again and again until we do resolve our kamma. We don't know how many lifetimes we have had so far, but here we are in this incarnation, with our own particular character and kammic tendencies.


http://www.abhayagiri.org/main/article/215/

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby 5heaps » Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:32 pm

clw_uk wrote:
thats offtopic. rebirth doesnt refer to just birth of i, it refers to other specific events (ie. the generation of consciousness due to the final moment of consciousness in this life)

No that was a later idea. If Im right it came from Vasubandhu

It was an attempt to try and cram Buddhadhamma into a speculative metaphysical view
completely ridiculous. there are very many instances where the Buddha talks about rebirth in various circumstances ie. from a womb, through the power of 'emanation' (ie. gods). many instances where the Buddha talks about the supporting conditions of such occurrences. even many instances of giving examples of people who have undergone such occurrences.

im getting quite tired of inept people dissing the historical giants of buddhism. get some class.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:37 pm

Hi Bodom,

bodom wrote:
Ajahn Sumedho doesn't always speak of rebirth strictly in the above manner either...




Maybe not, different strokes for different folks as the saying goes - however I've had personal instruction from him in connection with my own practice, and I'm totally satisfied with that.


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby bodom » Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:41 pm

I've had personal instruction from him in connection with my own practice, and I'm totally satisfied with that.


And in the grand scheme of things that is all that truly matters. :smile:

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Kenshou » Sat Nov 06, 2010 11:10 pm

5heaps wrote:im getting quite tired of inept people dissing the historical giants of buddhism. get some class.

Rebirth and Buddhism aside, this is the most ironic thing I've read all week.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:38 am

Aloka wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Again, to insist that these texts must be crammed into a figurative only reading is to make the Buddha intro a clumsy, inept teacher.


I'm not insisting anything, Tilt. I'm wondering if perhaps there are mundane and supramundane teachings (or as expressed in Vajrayana, teachings on a relative and ultimate level)

From the Manorathapūranī:

The Awakened One, best of speakers,
Spoke two kinds of truths:
The conventional and the ultimate.
A third truth does not obtain.

Therein:
The speech wherewith the world converses is true
On account of its being agreed upon by the world.
The speech which describes what is ultimate is also true,
Through characterizing dhammas as they really are.

Therefore, being skilled in common usage,
False speech does not arise in the Teacher,
Who is Lord of the World,
When he speaks according to conventions.
(Mn. i. 95)


I've got the Pali for that somewhere too - but as I don't understand Pali I'm just quoting the English.
Okay, but do not forget that the converntional truth is still the truth and no less true than the supposed ultimate truth.

Again, the passage you quoted and the one I added to it point to the fact that the anti-rebirther stance makes the Buddha out to be a poor teacher.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:54 am

Aloka wrote:
glimpses of other realms.
These glimpses are enough to make my practice more determined
.
Dear Bhante,
I interpret other realms as different mental states and have discussed this with teachers who have said its ok to do that.
Kind regards,
Aloka

As Ven Nanadhaja says, this is fine. But I don't understand why it means that you argue against other interpretations. Especially since Ajahn Sumedo's book: http://books.google.com/books?id=Ux8ssV ... &q&f=false page 55 states:
If you understand rebirth on the everyday level, you'll appreciate how it must operate at the time of death. The last wish of a person, if they're heedless and full of desire, is probably to be reborn again, to find another human birth, to find some womb to jump into. This is desire; it operates as an energy in the universe.
...
If you're at peace with the dying process of your body, what can be reborn? Because there is no desire, there is only mindfulness and wisdom. Then there is release, surrender, and liberation from the heaviness of the human body.

This is similar to what Ajahn Buddhadasa states in "Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree" in the section on preparing for death...
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 180#p83349

From Pages 101-102 of the Wisdom edition.
There is a final pair to consider - birth and non-birth. We must reflect and investigate carefully that both birth and non-birth are too much trouble, for neither is void and free. If we cling to not being born this clinging too is non-void (sunna). This part, concerning birth and non-birth, the final pair, is the hardest to understand and the hardest to practice. We must want neither birth nor non-birth. Through not grasping at or clinging to either of them, there is voidness. Having spoken continually about having an being, of not-having and not-being, we come to birth and non-birth. Almost immediately, we grasp at non-birth. Thus, at the final stage, our practice must advance to the point where our knowledge of non-birth dissolves without becoming an object of grasping and clinging. Then, there appears true sunnata, in which there is neither birth nor non-birth, in other words, trued no-birth, the remainderless quenching.

This manner of speaking may seem to be quibbling or wrestling back and forth, but the meaning is unequivocal. There is a definite difference between true and false non-birth. S o don't cling to the idea that nibbana is non-birth and is wonderful and amazing in this way and that. And don't attach to the cycles of birth and death (vattasamsara) as a plethora of fun-filled births. There must be no grasping at or clinging to either side for there to be sunnata and genuine non-birth. The practise during ordinary times must continually be of this nature.

He goes on to discuss practising at the moment of death,which is in the link. In the book it's P 104:
The Last Chance

The third occasion for practice is the moment when the mind quenches. The body will break up and die; how can we practice sunnata at that time? In this situation we must depend on having taken "remainderless quenching" as our basic principle throughout life.
...
Regularly contemplate that being a person is no fun, being a deval is no fun, being a father ...
Then, the mind will hold no hope of having or being anything at all. One could say "all hope has been given up".

He goes on to give several pages of advice of how to realise nibbana at the moment of death, with a simile of jumping off a ladder.

:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:15 am

mikenz66 wrote:
If you understand rebirth on the everyday level, you'll appreciate how it must operate at the time of death. The last wish of a person, if they're heedless and full of desire, is probably to be reborn again, to find another human birth, to find some womb to jump into. This is desire; it operates as an energy in the universe.
...
If you're at peace with the dying process of your body, what can be reborn? Because there is no desire, there is only mindfulness and wisdom. Then there is release, surrender, and liberation from the heaviness of the human body.
Oh, dear. Ven Sumedho takes rebirth literally and what can we say about Buddhadasa's comments?
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.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:31 am

tiltbillings wrote:Oh, dear. Ven Sumedho takes rebirth literally and what can we say about Buddhadasa's comments?

The funny thing is that I bought Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree back in 2007 when I was in Hong Kong and read it without realising that he was considered to be a denier of literal rebirth. Since a large chunk of that book (actually, a collection of talks) is devoted to advice on how to attain nibbana at the instant of death (not to have a good life before death), the whole book would seem to be a little pointless if nothing persisted after death.

:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:38 am

mikenz66 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Oh, dear. Ven Sumedho takes rebirth literally and what can we say about Buddhadasa's comments?

The funny thing is that I bought Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree back in 2007 when I was in Hong Kong and read it without realising that he was considered to be a denier of literal rebirth. Since a large chunk of that book (actually, a collection of talks) is devoted to advice on how to attain nibbana at the instant of death (not to have a good life before death), the whole book would seem to be a little pointless if nothing persisted after death.

:anjali:
Mike
Exactly, a point missed by those who cling to and twist Buddhadasa's words to get to rebirth denial.

But, oh, dear, Vens Sumedho and Buddhadasa no longer in the anti-rebirther's arsenal, but what we are going to continue to get is rebirth is wrong view stuff over and over and over, and never mind that for the Buddha rebirth was not a view and, as Aloka has quoted, it is clearly a teaching the Buddha gave us.
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.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:15 am

Hi mikenz66,

in your quote from 'The Mind and the Way' you missed out a chunk of what Ajahn Sumedho had to say on page 55 -56

"The desire for rebirth at the time of death is a desire to be reborn again in the human form. We can only know this through watching how our mind works. If you were dying and you didn't want to die what would be the most likely thing to arise in your mind ? It would be a desire to cling to some form of life.

Some passion of your life would arise in your dying moment and that desire would be for some form of materialisation. The momentum of your habits are always materialising in forms, arent they? You're always seeking what you desire, either a sense desire, or an intellectual desire, or a desire to repress something you dont like.

But if you are mindful when you die, if there's no longing to have another rebirth or to take some action, what is there to be reborn again ?"


Diverting for a moment -guess what ? - Years ago I once did a whole month's offline retreat of intensiveTibetan Buddhist Bardo practices to prepare for dying and rebirth !

However returning to the present - You guys can criticise and mock all you like, but I'm very relaxed about the dying process and I certainly don't intend being reborn, OK ? ....and what you gonna do about that, Tilt? More sarcasm ? Ban me for being a heretic ? (Monty Python and the Spanish Inquisition comes to mind frequently in these threads)

I think that closes the matter from my point of view. I hope you both enjoy your future lives and may you both be reborn in the Theravada equivalent of Dewachen rather than a muddy pool somewhere !

Thank you for the discussion, its been..er... most enlightening ! :D


With metta,

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:34 am

Aloka wrote: in your quote from 'The Mind and the Way' you missed out a chunk of what Ajahn Sumedho had to say on page 55 -56
It does not change the point that Ven Sumedho obviously takes rebirth literally.

However returning to the present - You and Tilt can criticise and mock all you like,
No one is mocking you.

but I'm very relaxed about the dying process and I certainly don't intend being reborn, OK ?
Intentions. You may not have any choice in that.

....and what you gonna do about that, Tilt? More sarcasm ? Ban me for being a heretic ? (Monty Python and the Spanish Inquisition comes to mind frequently in these threads)
Your practice has nothing - not a thing - to do with what I am talking about. What your practice is is none of my business and it certainly is not of any interest to me. What I am talking about - as I said repeatedly - is what the Buddha taught. I am not arguing that rebirth is true; rather, I am making the point that the Buddha clearly taught rebirth, as the very passage you quoted plainly shows.

I think that closes the matter from my point of view. I hope you both enjoy your future lives and may you both be reborn in the Theravada equivalent of Dewachen rather than a muddy pool somewhere !
Thanks.
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.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:45 am

Hi Aloka
Aloka wrote:Hi mikenz66,
in your quote from 'The Mind and the Way' you missed out a chunk of what Ajahn Sumedho had to say on page 55 -56
...

I quoted the part relevant to showing that Ajahn Sumedho doesn't deny rebirth. You've already explained how he doesn't see it as particularly relevant to everyday practice.

I'm not sure why you seem to take this so personally. My point was simply that Ajahns Buddhadasa and Sumedho seem, from their writings, to acknowledge that the Buddha taught some sort of post-mortem rebirth.

Now, what one does with that teaching is a more interesting question. What relevance does it have to my practice? I don't know. Not a lot at the the moment. I don't actually think about it much. In fact, I only post this stuff to balance out the interminable posts denying that the Buddha taught post-mortem rebirth and to correct gaps in the picture that some paint of the teachings of Ajahns Buddhadasa and Sumedho.

:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:31 am

mikenz66 wrote:My point was simply that Ajahns Buddhadasa and Sumedho seem, from their writings, to acknowledge that the Buddha taught some sort of post-mortem rebirth.


That's my understanding - it isn't that they are denying rebirth, rather that their focus is on practice in the here and now.
Perhaps it's ultimately about skillful means - for some a belief in rebirth will support their practice, for others it may be a distraction.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:35 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:My point was simply that Ajahns Buddhadasa and Sumedho seem, from their writings, to acknowledge that the Buddha taught some sort of post-mortem rebirth.


That's my understanding - it isn't that they are denying rebirth, rather that their focus is on practice in the here and now.
Perhaps it's ultimately about skillful means - for some a belief in rebirth will support their practice, for others it may be a distraction.
One of Buddhadasa's points was that rebirth, as a popular concept in Thai culture was actually a hinderance to practice, but the hardcore Buddhadasa advocates seem to have taken that as a generalized rejection of rebirth.
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.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:57 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Aloka
Aloka wrote:Hi mikenz66,
in your quote from 'The Mind and the Way' you missed out a chunk of what Ajahn Sumedho had to say on page 55 -56
...

I quoted the part relevant to showing that Ajahn Sumedho doesn't deny rebirth. You've already explained how he doesn't see it as particularly relevant to everyday practice.

I'm not sure why you seem to take this so personally. My point was simply that Ajahns Buddhadasa and Sumedho seem, from their writings, to acknowledge that the Buddha taught some sort of post-mortem rebirth.

Now, what one does with that teaching is a more interesting question. What relevance does it have to my practice? I don't know. Not a lot at the the moment. I don't actually think about it much. In fact, I only post this stuff to balance out the interminable posts denying that the Buddha taught post-mortem rebirth and to correct gaps in the picture that some paint of the teachings of Ajahns Buddhadasa and Sumedho.

:anjali:
Mike




Hi Mike,

I'm not really taking things personally, even if it seems that way. Personal practice is certainly all important in the midst of all these internet interactions !

You said:

The funny thing is that I bought Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree back in 2007 when I was in Hong Kong and read it without realising that he was considered to be a denier of literal rebirth. Since a large chunk of that book (actually, a collection of talks) is devoted to advice on how to attain nibbana at the instant of death (not to have a good life before death), the whole book would seem to be a little pointless if nothing persisted after death.



I have read quite a lot of Buddhadasa so I feel able to comment.

Death is an occassion where people ordinarily suffer. In fact, death is ordinarily where human beings suffer the most. It is really vital that human beings have Nibbana at death (as well as at other times). Buddhadasa gave Nibbana at death the highest urgency. I think he was unconcerned with what occurs after death.

Your statement "the whole book would seem to be a little pointless if nothing persisted after death", with respect, Mike, appears to me to be an inaccurate one.

Buddhadasa gave a teaching to assist people to end the suffering that occurs with the death & dying process.

Have you never witnessed a human being dying, full of fears, full of struggles? I have seen relatives dying and this was particularly evident when I watched my grandfather dying from cancer.

The Buddha himself taught Nibbana at ordinary times as well as specifically at death, as follows:

When a bhikkhu has heard that nothing is worth adhering to, he directly knows everything; having directly known everything, he fully understands everything; having directly known everything, he fully understood everything, whatever feeling he feels, whether pleasant or painful or neither pleasant or painful, he abides contemplating (observing) impermanence in those feelings, contemplating (observing) fading away, contemplating (observing) cessation, contemplating (observing) relinquishment (letting go). Contemplating (observing) thus, he does not cling to anything in the world. When he does not cling (think about), he is not agitated, he personally attains Nibbana.

Culatanhasankhaya Sutta



When sensing a feeling limited to life, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to life.' One discerns that 'With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, all that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here.'

Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta


This second teaching by the Buddha for death is also something we need to practise before death, so we are prepared. It is another form of Maranasati.

You have possibly misunderstood what Buddhadasa is saying. Perhaps in connection with what Buddhadasa is actually refering to by the word "birth". Heartwood From The Bodhi Tree opens as follows:

Take the question of whether or not there is rebirth. What is reborn? How is it reborn? What is its kammic inheritance? These questions are not aimed at the extinction of Dukkha. That being so they are not Buddhist teaching and they are not connected with it. They do not lie in the sphere of Buddhism. Also, the one who asks about such matters has no choice but to indis­criminately believe the answer he's given, because the one who answers is not going to be able to produce any proofs, he's just going to speak according to his memory and feeling. The listener can't see for himself and so has to blindly believe "the other's words. Little by little the matter strays from Dhamma until it's something else altogether, unconnected with the extinction of Dukkha.



Also:


Concerning death, there's no need to speak about what happens after the people language version. Why talk about what happens once we're in the coffin? Instead, please deal with this most urgent issue of ego-birth, that is, don't get born and there will be no suffering. Without the feeling of being born, there is no person anymore and all the problems disappear with it. That is all. When there isn't this continual being born, there is no longer a "somebody" to have problems. It's as simple as that.

NO RELIGION by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu



With metta,

Aloka
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:03 am

mikenz66 wrote:Now, what one does with that teaching is a more interesting question. What relevance does it have to my practice? I don't know. Not a lot at the the moment. I don't actually think about it much. In fact, I only post this stuff to balance out the interminable posts denying that the Buddha taught post-mortem rebirth and to correct gaps in the picture that some paint of the teachings of Ajahns Buddhadasa and Sumedho.

Indeed. Reflecting on our own mortality can be a very helpful practice (even if one is still inclined to not accept post-mortem becoming).

    There are these five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained. Which five?

    'I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.' This is the first fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    'I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness.' This is the second fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    'I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death.' This is the third fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    'I will grow different, separate from all that is dear and appealing to me.' This is the fourth fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.' This is the fifth fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    These are the five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained. [AN 5.57]


    When this was said, the Blessed One addressed the monks. "Whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for a day & night... for a day... for the interval that it takes to eat a meal... for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' — they are said to dwell heedlessly. They develop mindfulness of death slowly for the sake of ending the effluents.

    "But whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food... for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' — they are said to dwell heedfully. They develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents. [AN 6.19]

All the best,

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