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Buddhist Wisdom on Death and Dying



The Buddha taught us that death can come at any moment and his teachings urge us to prepare for death every day. In our death-defying culture, it is hard to even imagine that we are actually going to die, let alone know how to get ready for it. This class will be an opportunity to examine death and dying in the context of our Buddhist practice. 


Although all around us we see people dying, we somehow believe that we and those we love are immune from this part of life. In a Hindu text, a wise man is asked, “Of all things in life, what is the most amazing?”  He answers, “That a man, seeing other dies all around him, never thinks that he will die.” Yet, by giving ourselves the opportunity to reflect deeply our own death with clarity, understanding, and compassion, we learn to move out of denial, confusion, and fear.


With greater understanding and acceptance of impermanence and the universality of death, we move beyond apprehension and can now focus on what is important: how to  prepare for being present with the dying process, our own and others. By examining the misconceptions, misplaced hopes and irrational fears that shape our relationship to death and dying, we can also reassess our life priorities and aspirations. Paradoxically, reflection on death and impermanence is the portal to living a life of true meaning and happiness.


Class Objectives:

  • Deepen our understanding of impermanence, reflecting on our own death with clarity, understanding, and compassion.
  • Explore Buddhist perspectives on death, what happens when we die, and how we can support that transition process for ourselves and others.
  • Explore what environment, practices and guidance that you might want to utilize at the time of death.
  • Become familiar with some of the post death options (washing the body, green burials, “home funerals”) that are environmentally friendly and in line with Buddhist values.
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