what happens after death?

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ciprian
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what happens after death?

Post by ciprian » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:20 pm

My grandmother just died today and I was wondering what happens to the consciousness immediately after death according to Theravada Buddhism. is it floating around searching for a new body like it is said in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. And is it possible for the living to assist in some way the dead man to achieve a good rebirth?

:anjali:

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Jechbi
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by Jechbi » Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:06 pm

Sympathies and condolences. Hope you're ok.

This thread might point you toward an answer.

:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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catmoon
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by catmoon » Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:59 pm

Ah, so sad. May you bear the loss lightly.

ciprian
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by ciprian » Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:44 pm

thank you for the sympathy. I guess I am fine. Her death was predictable for she was so weak that life was a burden for her. What I can't figure out yet is that I am not mourning because of The Dhamma, because my past reflections on impermanence, or because I didn't loved her enough.
I found "the great rebirth debate" thread that will probably answer some question, but now I have to go to see my grandma.
Thank you a lot again. :bow:

SamKR
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by SamKR » Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:52 pm

ciprian wrote:My grandmother just died today and I was wondering what happens to the consciousness immediately after death according to Theravada Buddhism. is it floating around searching for a new body like it is said in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. And is it possible for the living to assist in some way the dead man to achieve a good rebirth?

:anjali:
I found this article interesting: What Happens at Death?
http://www.vridhamma.org/en2000-03.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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cooran
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by cooran » Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:23 pm

ciprian wrote:My grandmother just died today and I was wondering what happens to the consciousness immediately after death according to Theravada Buddhism. is it floating around searching for a new body like it is said in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. And is it possible for the living to assist in some way the dead man to achieve a good rebirth?

:anjali:
Hello ciprian, all,

I have found this article by Bhikkhu Bodhi on Rebirth to be worth the read:

EXCERPT:
Rebirth without a transmigrating soul
The concept of rebirth without a transmigrating soul commonly raises the question: How can we speak of ourselves as having lived past lives if there is no soul, no single life going through these many lives? To answer this we have to understand the nature of individual identity in a single lifetime. The Buddha explains that what we really are is a functionally unified combination of five aggregates. The five aggregates fall into two groups. First there is a material process, which is a current of material energy. Then there is a mental process, a current of mental happenings. Both these currents consist of factors that are subject to momentary arising and passing away. The mind is a series of mental acts made up of feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousnes. These mental acts are called in Pali "cittas". Each citta arises, breaks up and passes away. When it breaks up it does not leave any traces behind. It does not have any core or inner essence that remains. But as soon as the citta breaks up, immediately afterwards there arises another citta. Thus we find the mind as a succession of cittas, or series of momentary acts of consciousness.
Now when each citta falls away it transmits to its successor whatever impression has been recorded on itself, whatever experience it has undergone. Its perceptions, emotions and volitional force are passed on to the next citta, and thus all experiences we undergo leave their imprint on the onward flow of consciousness, on the "cittasantana", the continuum of mind. This transmission of influence, this causal continuity, gives us our continued identity. We remain the same person through the whole lifetime because of this continuity.
What continues from one life to another
The physical organism - the body - and the mental process - the stream of cittas - occur in close interconnection. The body provides the physical basis for the stream of cittas and the mental process rests upon the body as its instrument or basis. When death comes, the body can no longer function as the physical support for consciousness. However, when the body breaks up at death, the succession of cittas does not draw to an end. In the mind of the dying person there takes place a final thought - moment called the "death consciousness", which signals the complete end of the life. Then, following the death consciousness, there arises the first citta of the next life which springs up with the newly formed physical organism as its basis. The first citta of the new life continues the stream of consciousness which has passed out of the deceased body. The stream of consciousness is not a single entity, but a process, and the process continues. When the stream of cittas passes on to the next life it carries the storage of impressions along with it.
http://www.theravada.gr/rebirth.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

You may also like to search for articles about the Sharing of Merits with the deceased ~ though this is only applicable to those who are reborn in particular realms.

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

ciprian
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by ciprian » Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:10 pm

thank you all very much.
I have read a book about kamma and rebirth and assisting the dying. A lot of things came back into my head while reading Mr. Goenka's article.
you are all so nice and compassionate. thank you again :bow:

Individual
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by Individual » Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:05 pm

Chris wrote:
ciprian wrote:My grandmother just died today and I was wondering what happens to the consciousness immediately after death according to Theravada Buddhism. is it floating around searching for a new body like it is said in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. And is it possible for the living to assist in some way the dead man to achieve a good rebirth?

:anjali:
Hello ciprian, all,

I have found this article by Bhikkhu Bodhi on Rebirth to be worth the read:

EXCERPT:
Rebirth without a transmigrating soul
The concept of rebirth without a transmigrating soul commonly raises the question: How can we speak of ourselves as having lived past lives if there is no soul, no single life going through these many lives? To answer this we have to understand the nature of individual identity in a single lifetime. The Buddha explains that what we really are is a functionally unified combination of five aggregates. The five aggregates fall into two groups. First there is a material process, which is a current of material energy. Then there is a mental process, a current of mental happenings. Both these currents consist of factors that are subject to momentary arising and passing away. The mind is a series of mental acts made up of feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousnes. These mental acts are called in Pali "cittas". Each citta arises, breaks up and passes away. When it breaks up it does not leave any traces behind. It does not have any core or inner essence that remains. But as soon as the citta breaks up, immediately afterwards there arises another citta. Thus we find the mind as a succession of cittas, or series of momentary acts of consciousness.
Now when each citta falls away it transmits to its successor whatever impression has been recorded on itself, whatever experience it has undergone. Its perceptions, emotions and volitional force are passed on to the next citta, and thus all experiences we undergo leave their imprint on the onward flow of consciousness, on the "cittasantana", the continuum of mind. This transmission of influence, this causal continuity, gives us our continued identity. We remain the same person through the whole lifetime because of this continuity.
What continues from one life to another
The physical organism - the body - and the mental process - the stream of cittas - occur in close interconnection. The body provides the physical basis for the stream of cittas and the mental process rests upon the body as its instrument or basis. When death comes, the body can no longer function as the physical support for consciousness. However, when the body breaks up at death, the succession of cittas does not draw to an end. In the mind of the dying person there takes place a final thought - moment called the "death consciousness", which signals the complete end of the life. Then, following the death consciousness, there arises the first citta of the next life which springs up with the newly formed physical organism as its basis. The first citta of the new life continues the stream of consciousness which has passed out of the deceased body. The stream of consciousness is not a single entity, but a process, and the process continues. When the stream of cittas passes on to the next life it carries the storage of impressions along with it.
http://www.theravada.gr/rebirth.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

You may also like to search for articles about the Sharing of Merits with the deceased ~ though this is only applicable to those who are reborn in particular realms.

metta
Chris
Why is there a gap in memory resulting from death consciousness? Like all people, I can't remember my previous life or infancy, and I can barely remember early childhood. But I can remember everything after that clearly. When you talk about rebirth-linking consciousness, how is this similar or different from what we might conventionally call "consciousness" or "mind"? Does it include long-term memory and, if so, why the gap between lives?
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Guy
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by Guy » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:50 pm

Hi Individual,
Individual wrote:why the gap between lives?
I have heard that if we are mindful at the time of death in a previous life we will be able to remember that lifetime in this one. If this is true then it would suggest that most people die unmindfully since most people don't remember.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

Individual
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by Individual » Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:48 am

Guy wrote:Hi Individual,
Individual wrote:why the gap between lives?
I have heard that if we are mindful at the time of death in a previous life we will be able to remember that lifetime in this one. If this is true then it would suggest that most people die unmindfully since most people don't remember.

With Metta,

Guy
I understand why people would not remember the conditions of their death; it's a painful experience. When people get into car accidents or are sexually assaulted, they frequently don't remember the event. The mind or brain has a mechanism of blocking out painful thoughts and memories. However, post-traumatic amnesia is rare and there are circumstances more painful than death. And many people die in their sleep, without being aware that they died, so I don't find that explanation very convincing. In this life, memory isn't totally dependent on mindfulness, since we seem to remember things automatically to a degree. What makes death so special?
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Guy
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by Guy » Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:47 am

Hi Individual,
Individual wrote:In this life, memory isn't totally dependent on mindfulness, since we seem to remember things automatically to a degree. What makes death so special?
I think one of the reasons why "ordinary" (for lack of a better word) experiences are easier for us to remember is because these type of experiences are familiar to us. Its easy for us to conceptualize and categorize an "ordinary" memory in terms of where we were, what we were doing, what time of day it was, etc. because this is what human consciousness and intellect is used to. The other levels of consciousness (where we don't have a human body with it's six senses as a reference point, where the conceptual mind cannot go) are harder for us to put to words or even imagine.

I hope this is clear, I am not sure if I have explained it very well.

I also think that your argument about repressing painful memories is another possible reason. Perhaps a combination of both.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

pegembara
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by pegembara » Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:42 am

Just thinking , why is it that we can't remember our deaths, births and early childhood? Is it because our brains are not developed until some time during childhood and as such cannot form coherent thoghts yet?

If you read the book by Prof of Psychiatry Dr. Brian Weiss " Many Lifes, Many Masters" it looks like it is possible to remember through hypnosis one's early childhood back towards in utero experiences and finally towards past lifes.

Past life regression psychotherapy seems to be increasingly accepted by hypnotherapists

http://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/sto ... =lifefocus" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Knowledge of past lives can help one lead a more virtuous life but does nothing to lead one out of samsara and may even strengthen the sense of self . One still need to sit on a cushion and meditate.
Last edited by pegembara on Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

Individual
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by Individual » Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:54 am

Guy wrote:Hi Individual,
Individual wrote:In this life, memory isn't totally dependent on mindfulness, since we seem to remember things automatically to a degree. What makes death so special?
I think one of the reasons why "ordinary" (for lack of a better word) experiences are easier for us to remember is because these type of experiences are familiar to us. Its easy for us to conceptualize and categorize an "ordinary" memory in terms of where we were, what we were doing, what time of day it was, etc. because this is what human consciousness and intellect is used to. The other levels of consciousness (where we don't have a human body with it's six senses as a reference point, where the conceptual mind cannot go) are harder for us to put to words or even imagine.

I hope this is clear, I am not sure if I have explained it very well.

I also think that your argument about repressing painful memories is another possible reason. Perhaps a combination of both.

With Metta,

Guy
This idea of a unique "level of consciousness" after death and before birth, is this a Theravada idea or in the suttas? No matter what the case, I am sympathetic towards it, but seek proof.
pegembara wrote:Just thinking , why is it that we can't remember our deaths, births and early childhood? Is it because our brains are not developed until some time during childhood and as such cannot form coherent thoghts yet?

If you read the book by Prof of Psychiatry Dr. Brian Weiss " Many Lifes, Many Masters" it looks like it is possible to remember through hypnosis one's early childhood back towards in utero experiences and finally towards past lifes.

Past life regression psychotherapy seems to be increasingly accepted by hypnotherapists

http://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/sto ... =lifefocus" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Yet mainstream psychologists are skeptical, because it's been shown to be able to create false memories, through creative encouragement of fantasy, like dreaming.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Guy
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Re: what happens after death?

Post by Guy » Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:21 am

Hi Individual,

The Jhanas, as I understand them, would be a different level of consciousness where the human body is no longer a frame of reference. Also heavenly realms, animal realms, ghost realms and hell realms are all going to be vastly different from human conscious experience. These different states are all explained in the Suttas.

As far as I know the Suttas don't back up my theory that one of the reasons why we don't remember is because death is such a different experience to day-to-day human experience. Even though it's not mentioned in the Suttas (as far as I know) this doesn't necessarily make it untrue. But if it is true, since it hasn't been mentioned, it probably just means it's not important to the path. The"Handful of Leaves" Sutta comes to mind.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

pegembara
Posts: 1641
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:39 am

Re: what happens after death?

Post by pegembara » Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:49 am

"Yet mainstream psychologists are skeptical, because it's been shown to be able to create false memories, through creative encouragement of fantasy, like dreaming"


Precisely.
What are memories real or imagined which are all mental processes which are impermanent and not self? Even our present moment experiences are not self what more "past life" ones.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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