Buddhist way of overcoming the cycle
of birth and death
Kurunegala “Daily News” Corr.
beings face and share the same fate. Due to ignorance of
the true nature of life, we often weep and wail and
sometimes even smile and weep again. When once we
realise the true nature of life, we can face the
impermanence of all component things
and seek liberation.
uncertain, death is certain”
- The Buddha
Everyday we hear of deaths all over the world. Many
deaths are caused due to various reasons such as natural
disasters, accidents, diseases, war and violence. Are we
ready to face death fearlessly?
Once life is launched, like a bullet it must reach its
destination which is death.
All of us have to face this inevitable, natural
phenomenon whether we like it or not. The sooner this
truth is accepted, the better we will be able to direct
our lives for a good purpose. Actually, we are disturbed
not so much by death itself, but by the wrong view we
hold of it. Death in itself is not that terrible; what
is terrible is the fear of death that prevails in the
Our lifespan is controlled by our biological clocks
which are continuously ticking away. When they run out,
sooner or later, there is little we can do to gain extra
Once our time is up, we must be prepared to go through
the natural process of death. All human beings,
irrespective of sex, or race, creed, will have to come
to terms with death. There is no alternative escape.
Death is an inevitable process of this world.
It is not often that we are brave enough to come face to
face with the thought of our own mortality. Yet, man is
not free in life unless he is also free from the fear of
It is hard to bear the loss of people whom we love
because of our attachment to them.
This happened to Visakha, a well-known lady devotee
during the time of the Buddha. When she lost her beloved
granddaughter, she visited the Fully-Awakened One to
seek advice in her great sorrow. “Visakha, would you
like to have as many sons, daughters grandsons and
granddaughters as there are children in this town?”
asked the Buddha.
“Yes, Sir, I would indeed!”
“But how many children die daily in this town?” The
Buddha questioned “Several, Sir. The town is never free
from children dying, Sir,” Visakha replied.
“Then, Visakha, in such a case, would you cry for all of
them? Visakha, those who have a hundred things beloved,
they have a hundred sorrows. He who has nothing beloved,
has no sorrow.
Such persons are free from sorrow.” The Buddha
mercifully enlightened Visakha over the death of human
When we develop attachment, we also must be prepared to
pay the price of sorrow when separation takes place.
The love of life can sometimes develop a morbid fear of
death. We will not take any risks even for a rightful
cause. We live in fear that illness or accident will put
an end to our seemingly precious permanent worldly life.
Realizing that death is a certainty, we hope and pray
for a survival of the soul in heaven for our own
security and preservation. Such beliefs are based on
strong craving for continued existence.
According to psychological studies, much mental stress
is caused by our refusal to face facts and accept life’s
realities. This stress, if not overcome can eventually
lead to grave physical illness. Certainly, worry and
despair over illness will make it worse.
We cannot pick and choose the kind of illness we desire,
nor can we choose the suitable or auspicious time to
die. But we can certainly choose to face illness and
death without fear.
People are frightened of dead bodies, but in the true
sense, the living are in fact far more dangerous and
brutal than dead bodies.
Dead bodies do not harm us, but the living are capable
of doing enormous harm and could even resort to murder.
So, is it not a stupid belief, for people to be afraid
or frightened of dead bodies?
Each and every individual should be aware of the role of
death in his or her destiny.
Whether royalty or commoner, rich or poor, strong or
weak, a man’s final resting place within this life is
either in a coffin lying buried six feet underground or
in an urn or strewn over the sea.
All human beings face and share the same fate. Due to
ignorance of the true nature of life, we often weep and
wail and sometimes even smile and weep again. When once
we realise the true nature of life, we can face the
impermanence of all component things and seek
Until and unless we achieve our liberation from worldly
conditions, we will have to face death over and over
again. And in this respect, too, the role of death is
very clear. If a person finds death to be unbearable,
then he should make every effort to overcome this cycle
of birth and death.
May you have wisdom to realise the Four Noble Truths.
May you be well and happy.