My topic today is the role that meditation can play in facing issues of pain, illness and death – not a pleasant topic, but an important one. Sadly, it's only when people are face-to-face with a fatal illness that they start thinking about these issues, and often by that point it's too late to get fully prepared.
When a person enters the final stage of the dying process, two different dynamics are at work which are closely interrelated and interdependent. On the physical plane, the body begins the final process of shutting down, which will end when all the physical systems cease to function.
Contemplation and meditation on death and impermanence are regarded as very important in Buddhism for two reasons : (1) it is only by recognising how precious and how short life is that we are most likely to make it meaningful and to live it fully and (2) by understanding the death process and familiarizing ourself with it
Buddhism is a widespread and varied religion with many sects and schools. Since its history is perceived somewhat differently among the various schools, I will use the dates and accounts of the formation of Buddhism accepeted by most scholars.
Soon after Buddha's death or parinirvana, five hundred monks met at the first council at Rajagrha, under the leadership of Kashyapa. Upali recited the monastic code (Vinaya) as he remembered it. Ananda, Buddha's cousin, friend, and favorite disciple -- and a man of prodigious memory! -- recited Buddha's lessons (the Sutras).
An ancient maxim found in the Dhammapada sums up the practice of the Buddha's teaching in three simple guidelines to training: to abstain from all evil, to cultivate good, and to purify one's mind. These three principles form a graded sequence of steps progressing from the outward and preparatory to the inward and essential
In this chapter we will look at the steps of the Noble Eightfold Path that fall into the group known as mental development. We have already noted the interdependent nature of the steps of the path, and in this context it is particularly important to understand the position of mental development.
Seekers of goodness who have gathered here please listen in peace. Listening to the Dhamma in peace means to listen with a one-pointed mind, paying attention to what you hear and then letting go. Listening to the Dhamma is of great benefit.