Rinpoche’s Take on Death & Why it’s Feared So Much in the West.

Yesterday evening I had the great honour & privilege of having Geshe Lama Ahbay Tulku Rinpoche visit my home for the 3rd year running. With a small gathering of spiritually minded people, we ate together, laughed together (what an infectious laugh he has) and shared some great philosophical discussion.

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After supper we all moved to my healing & meditation room for Q & A about Buddhism & life in general before taking part in the dedication prayer.
One of the questions raised during our discussion was this…… Why do you think Westerners have a deep rooted fear of death?

Rinpoche’s response;
Maybe it’s because in the West, the main focus is on materialism. The media is all about materialism, as are the newspapers & Internet. It’s all about products that make you feel and look good giving you the false hope of regaining youthfulness. We know the hope is false because from the moment we’re born, we are physically moving towards eventual death. That’s the cycle of life really – no escaping it. Then when illness & sickness comes it’s a terrible shock because we thought we were invincible. Death is something we Westerners choose not to talk about because it’s considered morbid & dark, but we all want a comfortable death surely? But, if we’re ever going to prepare for the inevitable event of death properly we must discuss it in life.

Rinpoche’s words gave me some great food for thought and so I’d like to put these 2 questions out to the universe…..

1, What are your thoughts on death?
2, Where are you going after death?

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7 thoughts on “Rinpoche’s Take on Death & Why it’s Feared So Much in the West.

  1. As always good question. After death I will carry on a go for coffee with friends and meditate and even go to work. We or our bodys anyway are constantly in a process of death and rebirth. Cells die and others are born. Scientists used to say that after 7 years you have a completely new body on a cellular level. Some say the process on an atomic level is even faster.
    Still think that you are your body?

    QP

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    • That’s a beautiful response QP and one to think about. I absolutely see that our cells etc are changing second by second and we even shed our skin etc, our features change with age so yes, absolutely part of us dies every millisecond but what about when the vessel we call ‘my body’ ceases to function? Our consciousness is the last thing to occupy the physical body. Often when a person is declared dead – Buddhism believes their consciousness is still alive and in the process of bardo – in simple terms (working out its journey to it’s new body)
      But what people don’t believe in aBuddhism, reincarnation or bardo? I wonder where they believe we go after death πŸ™πŸΌ

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      • Yes Julia, this is why I ask the question ” are you your body or do you have a body?” It gets right to the point. If you are your body how sad it will be to see you go. But if you have your body then you already recognize that the real you moves on. If it moves on once why not twice? Christians have three lives. One before Christ one with and then one in heaven. This progression needn’t stop there. If the soul, atmen, or mind transcends death I cannot imagine that suddenly looses this capacity to move forward in heaven. One must also ask where was I before this life? Did my soul or mind just magically appear and through what process? For me being unborn and timeless is simply so elegant and beautiful.

        QP

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      • My answer to this question is neither. I am neither my body nor do I have a body. I would say I am nothing more than consciousness that moves from lifetime to lifetime. The ego would have me believe I have a body but in order for this to be right, there must be an (I) and it’s impossible to identify.

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  2. What I mean is this….. For example, I hold out my right hand (MY right hand) The hand is simply a hand, but the MY aspect is more difficult or impossible to identify. If someone disected MY body, and put all the seperate pieces – organs and cells etc on a big table it would be impossible to identify which is or are ME even though they’d be MY body parts.
    So therefore without being able to identify ME I cannot have a body or be my body. Phew!

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  3. Well glad you said it like this, that’s the next step in the progression. It’s called mind only. It is followed by no mind in the philosophical schools. But for someone who is beginning it’s a big step not to identify with the body so much anymore. And this is the beginning of the Bhodisattva attitude. But I think it’s a step by step process.

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    • Hi there
      Yes I agree it’s a really slow process and often quite a frightening one. I suppose it very much depends on which perspective you are looking from. Death in the west is often a very complex subject, whereas in many eastern countries such as India, Tibet etc death is simply a continuum of life, and so it ‘s celebrated as opposed to mourned if you understand what I mean? I think because we live in such a demanding target driven society and culture, underpinned by superstition etc we often get to the point of dying with lots of unfinished business. This means we spend those last precious moments in turmoil rather than peace. Julie

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