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Trinity University

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

China: Chinese Culture and Ethnic Minorities


As the saying goes: ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ death is something easily forgotten when not staring you in the face. Our imagination is a significant aspect to our personality and perspective, but how important is imagination to our spiritual lives? Tantric Buddhism upholds the belief that the sum of all life and its process encompasses four stages: life, dying & death, the intermediate, and rebirth. In each of these stages, our perceptions and imaginings directly affect our actions and behavior, whether in following dharma or choosing a realm in rebirth. To start from the beginning, death is a key element within every sect of Buddhism. Through the awareness of death, the Buddha realized the ultimate futility of worldly concerns and pleasures. Only after seeing the “four sights” (a sick person, an old person, a corpse, and a person who relinquished the world) did the Buddha leave his family to find an escape from the world of suffering, death and decay. (Bonney 2010) According to the Buddhist belief, not only did he escape samsara (realm of suffering) but attempts to aid the rest of suffering beings in joining his liberated status, hence, the bodhisattvas and dharma protectors (David Turberfield). However, while we inhabit the six realms of samsara, death appears to be an insoluble problem for us because it is the ultimate cessation of all of our worldly desires, passions, belongings and seemingly existence. Despite our presupposition, Buddhists believe that death is merely a small event in life, so we should not be overly worried about how our current life will end. As with situations we face in life, the feelings we generate toward our experiences depend on how we view our situation. Once we visualize the process of death and know the rules to dying happy, our fear of dying should cease (DT and Sonam). Knowing how to process the idea of death is half the battle. Visualizing your impending death prepares you for the rest of it.


Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


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