An important part of the Path is overcoming the suffering of attachement to the body's continued existence. I don't know if that's desire for living or aversion to death - maybe a combination. Therefore, I'm wodering if someone can share their experiences on this very essential aspect of the practice - preparing to die.

In the Buddhas teachings we are adviced to watch the after death-process; dead bodies on a charnel ground. But this is very difficult in modern (Western) society. I managed to get three days in meditation with a dead friend (no more is allowed in my country). They'd put some cotton in his orifices and some lubricant on the body. He looked like wax and I felt like I were at Madame Tussaud or watching Lenin. My friend didn't rot or stink so it was no good really, because the whole point is meditation on the process.

I've tought about trying some hospices and morgues. Surely they'd kick me out, but I also think it might be disrespectful; they're grieving and probably not Buddhists! Everything would be better with a charnel ground.

What are your ways of preparing for death? If you are living in a county where death is a taboo, you probably have met some of the same challenges as me.

3 Answers 3


In preparation for death you should:

  1. accept the fact everyone must die and let go of the fear of death
  2. not procrastinate meditation to develop wisdom
  3. make your mind equanimous as possible to handle the pain of death so you do not lose the balance and get re born in a lower realm

In order to achieve 1, best is to contemplate that everyone must die and it is inevitable.

In preparation for 3, 2 will be helpful contemplation and meditation as each breath you take might very well be you last.

When you die your mind must be equanimous. This is the target of preparation to die. This can only achived through wisdom by realising the arising and passing away nature of things and realising any worldly phenomena experienced is unsatisfactory and not under one's control to make satisfactory hence let go and be equanimous no matter what your your experience is.

Meditating on a corpse is partly to realise that death is common to all and imminent, but another is to counteract the perception of beauty by seeing it rot. If the body is preserved it does not serve the latter purpose.

What you have to realise is beauty results when someone takes a certain shape and form here is beauty this might bring pleasure - attractive, displeasure - attractive, neutral - average or no special looks. When you analyse the anatomical parts separately this perception of beauty do not arise. Only when they are compounded and take a particular shape this perception of beauty happen. Likewise we take beauty or looks to be a constant than transitory. By looking at a old corpse you realize this, even perhaps even a old person. When it rots you see shape and form is subjected to decay, especially in a young corpse, and you see the transitory nature of beauty, i.e., something that was perceive so beautiful has suddenly become so repulsive. Since the subject is repulsive there is a change your mind may develop aversion towards the object or even the body itself. This is not the objective of repulsive meditation. You have to maintain absolute equanimity throughout, though initially if you are lustful some repulsion can be used to counteract it. If your mind is feeling disgusted at the subject or your body or someone else's body then this is not the type of meditation for your and can become dangerous as your mind is left unbalanced due to the meditation.

Also knowledge that whatever happened to the beauty of this person will also happen to me. The knowledge un un attempt to both beauty of oneself and others should happen.

You should meditate on how your mind constructs beauty and the sensation that follow and the attractions or aversions (you may just not like how someone looks) that result from this perceived beauty. Look at the sensation arising and passing regarding the subject of the meditation and realise the unsatisfactoriness in it (pleasantness when your mind perceives the attraction due to looks, unpleasantness when you perceive repulsiveness of looks and the subject, neutrality towards looks and the subject) and the non self nature. Though this develop revulsion and let go of the attachment to your body and mind or the 5 aggregates or the sense faculties or the world itself.

  • We as Buddhists are not preparing to die

Death is something that should be understood....

Death happens whether we are ready or not, and even if we are ready that does not make any difference because death is death and there is no escape.

So what about death?

Understand that death is inevitable and realize that like all that there is on the universe your body has an expiry date too. What is made of 4 elements has few common characteristics....

They decay,change and die.

So death is to be understood and in your understanding you become a one who is prepared to continue the path.

What we are all about?

Buddhism is all about preparing to end dying and birth. As Lord Buddha once said

"The greatest threat to beings is the lower realm, They have been born so many time there it is correct to say that the lower realms are like home to living beings..."

This is the danger that we run away from not petty pains and threats like a war or a flu.

About the meditation you are asking details for.....

This meditation was done in the form that you are trying to do in the age of kings and the practice was changed with time and monks adapted to change.

You can Continue the practice of this meditation in the new way and note that the older way is limited to a country or two now.

The new way...

Here is a audio link you are going to need

Click this link (Audio file)

First you need to find some good pictures and print it into your mind (Looking at it with calmness in mind would help).

Then practice with the audio that i link to the answer and once you are ready do it without the Audio.

Here are some Images that i use...

Male corpse Male corpse 1 Female corpse

There are also other Meditations that can help you...

Audio link 2 Meditation_on_Elements

Audio link 3 Meditation_of_Foulness

Audio link 4 Asuba_Aanaapaana_sathi


In my opinion, meditation on death is good for reducing the naive infatuation with sensual pleasures and the overall heedlessness coming from "intoxication with youth" and "intoxication with health". However, it does not address the more subtle root of suffering, what OP called "attachment to the body's continued existence".

According to Mahayana explanations, although attachment to body as "me, mine" seems obvious and well-based, it is in fact pretty arbitrary. In traditional Lam-Rim literature there are descriptions of hellish states caused by confused identification with other arbitrary objects. Imagine the pain someone experiences when they think they are a door, craving the peace but constantly getting slammed instead.

From Mahayana perspective, our confused identification with a living organism comes from our egotism. We have this deep habit of chasing our personal goals and contrasting them with the goals of other beings. (This works similar to the Stockholm Syndrome, when the hostage temporary aligning with the captor's goals leads to the hostage identifying (bonding) with the captor. In this case the captor is our body or more broadly our social persona). Instead, the Mahayana solution to the identification problem is deconstructing one's ego, first and foremost through the practice of altruism. Indeed, taking an active interest in other people's well-being assists in switching one's focus from "self" to "all" - which reduces and eventually eliminates attachment to an individual organism.

The Mahayana Buddhist term for this is "bodhi-citta", the mind of the Buddha. A simple explanation of bodhicitta is when we make the entire world our business, no longer restricting our sense of care to just ourselves and our close circle.

Coming back to the self-identification, the Buddha explained it like this (in my interpretation):

  • Aging, decay, death come from the fact that we are born
  • Birth comes from the fact that we identify with a living being
  • Individualized existence comes from the egocentric activity
  • Egocentric activity comes from craving
  • Craving comes from the memory of a good feeling
  • The memory of a good feeling comes from experience of a contact
  • Experience of a contact comes from the experience of the boundary between the external and the internal
  • Experience of the boundary between the external and the internal comes from the objectification
  • Objectification comes from the mind constructing/interpreting the world
  • The mind constructing/interpreting the world comes from the accumulation of random imprints and memories
  • Accumulation of random imprints and memories comes from not knowing how things work.

The multiple ways to break this chain are either: to stop the egocentric activity, or to give up craving, or to stop objectification (via analytical deconstruction of the mind-made models to see their emptiness), or to stop constructing/interpreting the world (by non-maintaining the narratives, non-abiding), or to gain a direct insight into how things work.

  • the Buddha gained insight into how things work,
  • therefore the Buddha no longer accumulates random imprints and memories,
  • the Buddha no longer naively constructs/interprets the world,
  • the Buddha no longer naively objectifies the experience,
  • the Buddha no longer naively assume the boundary between the outer and the inner,
  • the Buddha no longer naively experiences the contact,
  • the Buddha no longer naively enjoys the good experience,
  • the Buddha no longer craves the object of good experience,
  • the Buddha no longer acts egoistically towards the object of craving,
  • the Buddha no longer identifies oneself as the same one who craves, the same one who acts, and the same one who enjoys the result,
  • the Buddha no longer has a notion of "I have been born as this human being",
  • the Buddha no longer has a notion of "I age, decay and will eventually die"

Something like this. This may be a little rough around the edges - please don't get hung up on the details -- but it should give you an idea of the overall approach.

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