We should continuously reflect on death.

Question: [Asking about another person’s health condition]

Tan Ajaan: He is doing better and went to see the doctor. He is not able to meditate, and so he tries to use medicine as a replacement.

Question: Is his illness the result of past karma?

Tan Ajaan: There is no foundation for that. We become easily alarmed by what other people say, even though there is no foundation for it, like the rabbit who believed the sky was falling down after only hearing a tree fall. We lack self-control and a strong foundation of heart. Just like when someone suggests something bad will happen, like a fortune teller who predicts our impending death, we become panicky and incapacitated by fear, worrying that if we do anything, we will die just like he said.

This is the characteristic of people who lack mindfulness to control their thoughts, which is why mindfulness is so important. If we have enough mindfulness, then when we are agitated we just have to single-mindedly repeat Buddho and the agitation will disappear. The more we think, the more agitated and stressed we become, because the mind thinks in ways that lead to suffering, not knowing how its thoughts are a burden or how to put them down. Therefore, we should develop mindfulness a lot.

Question: It saddens a lot of people to see someone who has made so much merit suffer in this way. With all that has happened, we worry about him.

Tan Ajaan: Just practising generosity is not enough. We need to make merit by developing mindfulness in order to be able to look after the mind. His situation shows that we have to be careful. Be confident in the teachings of the Buddha. If we are certain, we will not waver.

The Buddha taught us that after birth comes death. This is normal, so why fear death so much? At most, we only die. Whatever will be, will be. If we go bankrupt, we just go bankrupt. So what? We just accept whatever happens, and let things be. Worst comes to worst, we only die. If we accept death, then all kinds of problems become insignificant. But if we fear death, then whatever happens becomes a big problem.

We should continuously reflect on death. The Buddha told us to think that once we take birth, aging is normal and unavoidable. Illness is normal and unavoidable. Death too is normal and unavoidable. We should teach ourselves in this manner every day so we will not forget, and so we will be able to accept whatever happens.

Therefore we should think that these are things that just have to happen. Whether we make merit or not, we all have to take birth, get sick, and die. Whether we practise meditation or not, we all have to take birth, get sick, and die. The difference is whether we suffer as we go through birth, sickness, and death. If we practise meditation, if we have mindfulness and wisdom, and accept the truth, then these events will be seen as normal and ordinary.

Just like the rain and sun, there is nothing extraordinary about them. The mind does not age, get sick, and die along with the body. The one who gets panicked and agitated is not the body. It is not the body who is restless, because it does not fear aging, sickness, or death. The body is not aware that it has to age, get sick, and die. But the one who does not age, get sick, or die gets upset on behalf of the body.

So we must teach the mind that it is not necessary to get upset, because we do not age, get sick, or die along with the body. We are the mind, the one who knows, that which knows equanimously. That’s it. But our mind has defilements and ignorance that fools us into thinking that we are the body.

Whenever anything happens to our body, we panic and become agitated. Instead, we have to separate the body from the mind. The mind has to be able to separate itself from the body. If it can, then there will be no more mental suffering.”

By Ajaan Suchart Abhijāto

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