With correct, careful and constant practice of Vipassana, all fears gradually go away - including the biggest fear of all, the fear of death.
The Global Pagoda, with its largest meditation hall in the world for Vipassana students, is an inspiring battleground to courageously fight and remove one's impurities in the mind - the cause of all fears and insecurities.
With Vipassana, one realizes that the present moment, now, is the seed for the future. If one carefully ensures the present moment is wholesome - no matter what happened in the past - the future fruit will be only wholesome and sweet. Which is why Vipassana practice, and all forms of Dhamma dana, is the best investment for the future.
Sammasambuddha Gotama being offered Dhamma dana of rice cakes and honey from Tapassu and Bhallika, two merchants from Ukkala, Burma. (this is one of the vast collection of paintings in the Global Pagoda Art Gallery on the Life of the Buddha, the largest of collection of its kind in the world)
To live life wisely, knowing what happens at death becomes the most important knowledge of all. And Vipassana practice, with base of metta, the most important activity of all.
What Happens at Death?
- by Sayagyi U S. N. Goenka
(The following was originally published in the Sayagyi U Ba Khin Journal.)
To understand what happens at death, let us first understand what death is. Death is like a bend in a continuous river of becoming. It appears that death is the end of a process of becoming, and certainly it may be so in the case of an arahant (a fully liberated being) or a Buddha; but with an ordinary person this flow of becoming continues even after death. Death puts an end to the activities of one life, and the very next moment starts the play of a new life. On the one side is the last moment of this life and on the other side is the first moment of the next life. It is as though the sun rises as soon as it sets with no interval of darkness in between, or as if the moment of death is the end of one chapter in the book of becoming, and another chapter of life begins the very next moment.
Although no simile can convey the exact process, still one might say that this flow of becoming is like a train running on a track. It reaches the station of death and there, slightly decreasing speed for a moment, carries on again with the same speed. It does not stop at the station even for a moment. For one who is not an arahant, the station of death is not a terminus but a junction from where thirty-one different tracks diverge. The train, as soon as it arrives at the station, moves onto one or another of these tracks and continues. This speeding "train of becoming," fuelled by the electricity of the kammic reactions of the past, keeps on running from one station to the next, on one track or the other, a continuous journey that goes on without ceasing.
This changing of "tracks" happens automatically. As the melting of ice into water and the cooling of water to form ice happens according to laws of nature, so the transition from life to life is controlled by set laws of nature. According to these laws, the train not only changes tracks by itself, it also lays the next tracks itself. For this train of becoming the junction of death, where the change of tracks takes place, is of great importance. Here the present life is abandoned (this is called cuti-disappearance, death). The demise of the body takes place, and immediately the next life starts (a process which is called patisandhi - conception or taking up of the next birth). The moment of patisandhi is the result of the moment of death; the moment of death creates the moment of conception. Since every death moment creates the next birth moment, death is not only death, but birth as well. At this junction, life changes into death and death into birth.
Thus every life is a preparation for the next death. If someone is wise, he or she will use this life to the best advantage and prepare for a good death. The best death is the one that is the last, that is not a junction but a terminus: the death of an arahant. Here there will be no track on which the train can run further; but until such a terminus is reached, one can at least ensure that the next death gives rise to a good birth and that the terminus will be reached in due course. It all depends on us, on our own efforts. We are makers of our own future, we create our own welfare or misery as well as our own liberation.
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