Know That Death Can Happen at Any Time

Know That Death Can Happen at Any Time

Date of Advice:
May 2017
Date Posted:
December 2019

After checking for many years, a group of students wrote to ask Rinpoche about some land suitable for building retreat houses. Ven. Holly read the email to Rinpoche, who laughed and commented that maybe the students would spend all their time checking for the best retreat place but die before finding it, or they would find the perfect place and then die as soon as they got there.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Omak Lake, Washington, USA, September 2016. Photo: Lobsang Sherab.

You can plan, but the most important practice is the awareness of impermanence and death; knowing that death can happen at any time.

If you don't become familiar with the awareness of impermanence and death, it causes huge problems and worry when you die, because you have all the attachment and difficulty in separating from [the objects of attachment].

This is without thinking about going to the lower realms, just even thinking about this life. I'm not saying you are going to the lower realms; that is not what I mean. First think about the separation from the objects of attachment of this life; that’s a big thing. So, every day you need to be fully aware of that.

Scientists don't know Dharma yet, but even scientifically there is more understanding of the importance of having less attachment, less clinging to the body, relatives, etc.

To begin with, we are so frightened when there is separation. Even without accepting reincarnation, even now psychologists know how important it is to understand impermanence and death. It is not just nonsense, something crazy; it is psychology, a method, so that when we die we do not have attachment or we have less attachment to our family and friends. Then we will have more peace and happiness.

If we have attachment, when we die or get sick we can't do anything, we can't help, and we just become worried, especially if we don't accept Dharma.

Scientifically there may even be more Dharma understanding; that may happen as science develops more and more.

So this is not fooling us, Buddhism is not fooling us. It’s not like saying that this is gold but it is not gold, or that it is kaka but it is not kaka. So it is not that. Buddhism only gives rise to correct wisdom, being able to discriminate what is right or wrong.