A Buddhist Guide to Death, Dying and Suffering
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"Good health is simply the slowest way a human being can die." - author unknown

November 25, 2011 - An old man was found dead in the waiting hall of a train station in Taiyuan, the
capital city of North China’s Shanxi Province. Among his fellow passengers was a Buddhist monk.


Living in the Light of Death ...Larry Rosenberg

From chapter 3:

1. Everyone must die...

2. The remainder of our life span is decreasing continually.

3. Death will come regardless of whether or not we have made time to practice the dharma.

4. Human life expectancy is uncertain.

5. There are many causes of death.

6. The human Body is very fragile.

7. Our wealth cannot help us.

8. Our loved ones cannot help.

9. Our body cannot help.

A Buddhist Prayer for the Dead and Dying


Oh Buddhas and Bodhisattvas abiding in all directions,
Endowed with great compassion,
Endowed with foreknowledge,
Endowed with divine eye,
Endowed with love,
Affording protection to sentient beings,
Please come forth through the power of your great compassion,
Please accept these offerings, both actually presented and mentally created.

Oh Compassionate Ones, you who possess
The wisdom of understanding,
The love of compassion,
The power of doing divine deeds,
And of protecting in incomprehensible measure,
[...................................] is passing from this world to the next,
[He/she] is taking a great leap,
The light of this world has faded for [him/her],
[He/she] has entered solitude with their karmic forces,
[He/she] has gone into a vast silence,
[He/she] is borne away by the great ocean of birth and death ..…

Oh Compassionate Ones, protect [......................] who is defenceless. Be to [him/her] like a mother and father.

Oh Compassionate Ones, let not the force of your compassion be weak, but aid them.

Let [...........................] not go into the miserable states of existence.

Forget not your ancient vows.




The audio of Rev. Kusala's talk (3.27.16) at the 'Against the Stream' Meditation Center on Melrose
in Hollywood on who or what is afraid to die. Plus some thoughts on dying well.

The Five Powers to Develop for a Happy Successful Death

(These are explained in the tradition of Thought Transformation; see the Recommended Reading list for books on Thought Transformation)

1. The Power of the White Seed: purify negative karma with the 4 powers of regret, reliance, remedy and resolution; give up attachment to your possessions and make offerings of them; meditate upon refuge in the 3 Jewels, give rise to positive thoughts such as Bodhicitta; reaffirm your commitment to whatever spiritual goals and values you cultivated during your life

2. The Power of Intention: develop in your mind strong, positive resolutions such as not allowing your mind to come under the influence of negative, disturbing emotions; or not letting your mind be separated from the altruistic attitude of Bodhicitta

3. The Power of Remorse: remembering the disadvantages of the disturbing emotions, protect yourself from being overwhelmed by them

4. The Power of Prayer: make strong prayers never to be separated from Bodhicitta, not to be dominated by the misconception of self or the disturbing emotions, to obtain a fortunate rebirth in the next life to be able to continue your practice of the Dharma, etc.

5. The Power of Familiarity: utilize whatever difficulties you face at the time of death to reflect on the teachings, e.g. the suffering nature of samsara, and to develop compassion for all beings; when the time of death comes, lie on your right side with your right ring finger blocking your right nostril (this is the posture the Buddha adopted during his Parinirvana); meditate on “taking and giving”; and on the emptiness of true existence of all things

Further Reading on the Thought Transformation Tradition (the 5 Powers)

· Beresford, Brian, trans. Mind Training Like the Rays of the Sun. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1992

· Gyalwa Gendun Druppa. Training the Mind in the Great Way. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1993 trans. by Glenn H. Mullin

· Geshe Rabten and Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey. Advice from a Spiritual Friend. London: Wisdom, 1976, 1984

· Chodron, Pema. Start Where You Are . Shambhala. USA, Aug 2001 (Also other books by this author)

...Articles of Interest...

Buddhism and the Funeral ...Urban Dharma Newsletter / PDF File

Meditation for Pain, Illness, and Death ...Thanissaro Bhikkhu

A Buddhist Approach to Patient Health Care ...Kusala Bhikshu

A Look at Good Health and Buddhist Medicine ...Urban Dharma Newsletter

Suffering in Christianity and Buddhism: The Same or Different? ...Urban Dharma Newsletter / PDF File


Preparing for Death ...An interview with Ajahn Pasanno

Buddhism and Suicide ...Damien Keown

Passing Through Death ...Yvonne Zhang

For the Aged and the Sick ...Ven. Thich Thanh Tu

The Sick and Terminally Ill ...Lily de Silva

Do Buddhists go to Heaven? ...Kusala Bhikshu

Spiritual Needs of the Dying ...Ven. Pende Hawter

Buddhist Reflections on Death. ...Ven. V. F. Gunaratana

Zen Hospice... Being of Service ...Frank Ostasesk

Attitudes to Euthanasia in Vinaya ...Damien Keown

Buddhist View on Death and Rebirth ...Ven. Thich Nguyen Tang

Buddhism and the Morality of Abortion ...Michael G. Barnhart



Audio Files in MP3 / Free Download




Rev Sandra Yarlott
- 10/2006 - 49 min - MP3 - 11.4 MB // Rev. Kusala's interview with Rev. Sandra Yarlott, Director of the UCLA Medical Center Spiritual Care Dept... Rev. Yarlott speaks on the challenges of running a Spiritual Care Dept. in Los Angeles... The importance of training new hospital chaplains and some of the religious issues patients face in getting well or dying. For more information on the UCLA Medical Center - Spiritual Care Dept


Free Download / Podcast/MP3 - 11.4 MB


Kusala Bhikshu / Podcast - Q & A - Spirituality and Healing in Medicine - 12/2005 - 43min - MP3 - 9.7 MB // Questions and answers from a workshop at the Spirituality and Healing in Medicine Conference - Boston, December 2005. A variety of topics were covered... Sex, death and dying, karma, heaven, the problem with oneness, etc. This conference was sponsored by the Harvard Medical School Department of Continuing Education and George Washington University. A complete list of conference presentations can be found at: (Conference Recordings)

Free Download / Podcast/ MP3 - 9.7 MB

Insight Meditation Center with Steve Stuckey, Jaku Kinst, Gayle Madison
Saturday, October 7, 2006. Buddhist chaplains, both volunteer
and professional, share their understanding, experience
and practce. - Four MP3 Files -- Free Download

Pt 1 - 7.8 MB /// Pt 2 - 6.7 MB /// Pt 3 - 12.6 /// Pt 4 - 16 MB


Notes on a Theravada Buddhist Approach to Spiritual Care to the Dying and the Dead

(Originally written for people offering Buddhist Spiritual Care)
Insight Meditation Center by Gil Fronsdal

In PDF - Free Download - 115 KB / Click Here



e-Books from Urban Dharma / Free Download


Buddhist Reflections on Death
22 Pages - (153 KB)

Buddhist Refection's on Death - V. F. Gunaratne

According to the Buddhist way of thinking, death, far from being a subject to be shunned and avoided, is the key that unlocks the seeming mystery of life. It is by understanding death that we understand life; for death is part of the process of life in the larger sense. In another sense, life and death are two ends of the same process and if you understand one end of the process, you also understand the other. Hence, by understanding the purpose of death we also understand the purpose of life.

Eight Prayers to Benefit the Dead
29 Pages - (440 KB)

Eight Prayers to Benefit the Dead FPMT 2007

This booklet contains the eight prayers that are traditionally done in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries when someone passes away. According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, we absolutely must do something to benefit those beings who have died. Rinpoche recommends Medicine Buddha Puja, Medicine Buddha practices in general, and this collection of eight prayers as being the most important practices to do at this time. In addition, one may do the practice of Prostrations to the Thirty- Five Confession Buddhas. That practice is included at the end of this booklet.

Sutra of the Medicine Buddha
70 Pages - (895 KB)

Sutra of the Medicine Buddha — Dharma Master Hsuan Jung.

In the Mahayana tradition of East Asia, particularly China, Japan, Vietnam and Tibet. The Medicine Buddha occupies a special place in the hearts of Mahayana Buddhists. Specialising in curing diseases, both physical and mental - of which delusion is the root cause. His healing acts are but the prelude to Supreme Enlightenment for those seekers who have the good fortune to learn of his vows or merely to hear his name!
- (Free Download)

Guide to a Buddhist Funeral

46 Pages - (1,084 KB)

A Guide to a Proper Buddhist Funeral — Koperasi Buddhisme Malaysia Berhad.

This is a hand book on Buddhist Funerals, with sections on practical advice as to what is to be done when a family member is critically ill; the final moments; when death takes place; preparing for the funeral; paying last respects; the final rites; verses for contemplation; the burial / cremation ceremony and the memorial service. - (Free Download)

A Theravadin Buddhist Funeral
58 Pages - (1,542 KB)

A Theravadin Buddhist Funeral — Ven. Suvanno.  

Generally, a Chinese funeral is a mixture of Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist rites. How then should a Theravadin Buddhist funeral be conducted? Venerable Suvanno, a respected and senior Theravadin Buddhist monk of Chinese descent explains how a Theravadin Buddhist funeral may be conducted. - (Free Download)

Dying to Live
120 Pages - (2.7 MB)

Dying to Live - The Role of Karma in Dying and Rebirth
— Aggacitta Bhikkhu

The purpose of this work is to present a comprehensive picture of kamma and the often unpredictable role it plays in the process of dying and rebirth according to orthodox Theravada doctrine.

With the aid of colour diagrams, basic concepts of Abhidhamma are first introduced in order to facilitate a thorough understanding of what happens, on a microscopic level, to the body and mind of a person dying to live again. Since kamma is inextricably linked with Abhidhamma principles, and our main subject of discussion is one of its specific roles, the whole of Chapter 2 is devoted to an exposition of the nature of kamma and its various aspects, classified according to four different ways of analysis.

Chapter 3 begins by surveying the causes of death and the possible manifestations of the kamma that is about to produce rebirth in the dying person, and concludes by presenting a microscopic description, accompanied by a colour diagram, of the actual process of dying and rebirth, based on the basic principles of Abhidhamma introduced in Chapter 1.

In Chapter 4, the order in which specific types of kamma generate rebirth is discussed with the help of many interesting storie's mostly extracted from the commentaries, but including a few modern one's and accompanied by pencil drawings.

Finally, Chapter 5 summarises and concludes this booklet with some proposals for skilful dying, and a dramatic personal account of a young monk's own observations and masterly manipulation of the changing visions experienced by a dying Buddhist devotee. - (Free Download)

Preparing for Death & Helping the Dying
66 Pages - (199 KB)

Preparing for Death & Helping the Dying Sangye Khadro.

This booklet is based on material used during a seminar that Sangye Khadro taught in Singapore and elsewhere, entitled “Preparing for Death and Helping the Dying.” This seminar answers a genuine need in today’s world, as expressed by one participant: “I am interested to know more about death and how to help dying people, but it’s very difficult to find anyone willing to talk about these things.” The material for the seminar is taken mainly from two sources: traditional Buddhist teachings, and contemporary writings in the field of caring for the dying. This booklet is meant as a brief introduction to the subject rather than a detailed explanation. - (Free Download)

The Many Faces of Death
56 Pages - (485 KB)

The Many Faces of Death — Jacqui James

Imagine a life partner, a family member or a close friend of yours is dying. How might she or he be feeling? Facing death, being in pain maybe. What are her or his intimate needs and wishes? What happens to us when staying with a dying person? How can we deal with the sorrow, the confusing thoughts and the trying situation? How should we communicate with her or him and with the family members and friends? When a beloved person is dying we are touched to our deepest core. Difficult, painful emotions may rush up, stirring in our hearts. Dying and death becomes a great challenger, breaking into our lives – which we try so hard to keep smooth and under control. - (Free Download)


Daily Readings -- Buddha's Words of Wisdom
284 Pages - (1.8 MB)

Daily Readings -- Buddha's Words of Wisdom — by Ven. S. Dhammika.

For over two thousand years the discourses of the Buddha have nourished the spiritual lives of countless millions of people. This book contains extracts of the early Buddhist discourses from the Pali Tipitaka, and also from some post-canonical writings. Presented so that one reading can be reflected upon each day of the year. This book is an indispensable companion for anyone trying to apply the Buddha's gentle message to their daily life. - (Free Download)

More -->  More eBooks for free Download at  www.PDFDharma.org