In the teachings of Buddha, everyone will pass away eventually. Death is a natural process and Buddha encourages his followers to always bear in mind the impermanence of life. In Buddhism, death does not signify the end of life but merely, the end of the body we current inhabit in this life.
Upon death, the spirit still remains and seeks out through the need of attachment to a new life and body. Buddhists believe that upon death, they are born again and where they are born is the result of their past as well as the accumulation of negative and positive action. This is what to Buddhists is known as karma and it is the result of one’s past actions.
This leads to the person being reborn in 6 realms which include:
- Human beings
- Hungry ghost
The realms will vary in accordance to the karmic actions of the individual. Buddhists however believe that none of the places mentioned above is permanent and that one does not stay in the same place indefinitely. Consequently, it is safe to conclude that in Buddhism, life never comes to an end but continues in other forms that are a result of the karma accumulated.
Buddhism also emphasis on the impermanence of life including those that are beyond present life. With this perspective in mind, Buddhist followers are encouraged not to be afraid of death as it leads to rebirth.
Fear of death stems from the fear of ceasing to exist, losing one’s identity and foothold in the world. People see death coming before it arrives, they notice impermanence in changes seen around us, the arrival of aging and suffering as a result of lose of youth.
Grieving because of the death of a loved one is natural before people can learn how to live without their process and miss them as part of their daily life. Death of a loved one or any other person is often painful and as people pass along, we are all reminded of our inevitable end. There is a story told of a woman who went to Buddha carrying her dead child and crying in anguish for him to bring the child to life.
Buddha told the woman to look for mustard seen from any household in which no one has ever died and he would fulfill her wish. The woman made futile attempts to look for such a seed and could not find a household where no one had ever died. She then realized that death is universal. Therefore, Buddhist clergy remind their followers about how close death is and emphasize on the importance of knowing death and preparing for their demise.
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