How does Buddhism view death?

- through Fabrice Groult

Published on

Contrary to a common misconception, death is not a concern of Buddhism. What must be emphasized is that the saṃsara, cycle of rebirth or reincarnation, is not a concept of Buddhist origin as is often said, but Brahmanic, already present in the Vedas and Upanishads.

Besides, every time we asked him about what became of the soul after the death, on the limits of the universe in space and time, the Buddha always refused to answer, remaining silent. For him, these are unanswered, futile and time-wasting questions. For the only urgent problem is suffering, here and now, and the only goal, deliverance.

Man often experiences the anguish of death, for fear of the unknown and of nothingness, for fear of losing himself and his family. But by realizing that life is a continuous process of birth and death, of aggregation and disintegration of interdependent elements in the immense universe, the Buddhist practitioner manages to free himself from death, or more precisely from the idea of death, which obsesses him and makes him suffer. As a Stance of the Buddha (Dhammapada in Pali) says: “He who sees the body as foam, and life as a mirage, will destroy the arrows of Mara and escape the sight of the King of Death”.

So the Buddhist attitude towards death is to get used to it in some way, deeply understanding the Dharma so as to have an attitude of detachment, letting go and serene joy, in life. and in the face of death.

"He who sees the body as foam, and life as a mirage, will destroy the arrows of Mara and will escape the sight of the King of Death”. A stanza of the Buddha

To those who do not succeed, Buddhism can still bring the strength of faith, the hope of a good reincarnation in the next life, thanks to the veneration of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, in particular Amitabha Buddha, who would welcome them. in the "Western Paradise" (Sukhavati in Sanskrit) after their death.

The practice of religious rites, often very rich in the Chinese Mahayana and the Tibetan Vajrayana, would act as "skillful means" to achieve deliverance, or at least by bringing calm and serenity.

photo of author

Fabrice Groult

Fabrice Groult is an adventurer, photographer and Buddhist who has traveled the world since a young age. After studying Buddhism in India, he embarked on an eighteen-month journey through Asia that took him to the Himalayas, where he discovered his passion for photography. Since then, he has traveled the world capturing images of Buddhist beauty and wisdom. He was a guide for ten years, and is now a journalist with Buddhist News.

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