I dont get much effect from death contemplation on myself - i wondered lately maybe contemplating the death of those close to me might work to install a sense of urgency

do you think its effective ? and should i do it the same way as death contemplation of self or different ?

I want to do it to get a sense of urgency

all thoughts on subject are welcome

2 Answers 2


Whether you contemplate death of self or your immediate loved ones, if you could make sure that (when death come to you) you will face it as a disciple who have attained path-fruition and not as a lay person with false-views, then you have done what is right. When doing it, try to do the ‘Nava Sivatika’ (Nine cemetery contemptations). This is the last exercise in mindfulness of the body. You could do this contemplation of the body's disintegration after death either imaginatively, or with the aid of pictures. Then this clear mental image of this decomposing body, you apply to your own body, or that of your loved one, considering:

"This body, now so full of life, has the same nature and is subject to the same fate. It cannot escape death, cannot escape disintegration, but must eventually die and decompose."

If there is one single word that is more important than any other in the whole of the Dhamma of the Supreme Buddha, it is URGENCY. In whatever way, if one could develop a sense of urgency, and in your case what you have stated above, then by all means stick to it. Do you think that everyone in this world will develop a sense of dismay (samvega) with what is happening around you? Who would ever see the other side of life - the universality of suffering? Of those who see life in this way, what is the percentage that will develop an attitude of heedfulness (appamada) to avoid being duped by types of desires that come our way? How many will have a sense of urgency towards the practice of Dhamma? So whatever means that you will employ to instil a sense of urgency, then that is the way to go.

What the Buddha has said is patisotagami or against the current of conventional thinking. Buddha knew this well. That is why He said, “Dear Bhikkhus, ones who would not realize this Dhamma is like this earth (in amount). Ones who realize this is like this small amount of soil on my finger nail.”

  • i added the reason i want to do this : I want to do it to get a sense of urgency
    – breath
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 1:52
  • 1
    Now I get it @breath. If I am to comment on it, I will exceed the limit set. So let me add to the above answer. Do give me a couple of minutes. :) Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 2:02

Death contemplation/meditation has many reasons for existing. Some people may use death meditation to overcome sexual addictions (bodies decaying), accepting their impermanence (coming to grips with reality), and others (like yourself) will use Death meditation to motivate themselves to practice (resetting priorities). While some may find it extremely beneficial for their practice; others like yourself, may not feel the same way. That's ok.

Instead of trying to find a sense of urgency for practice; I would recommend trying to find joy and happiness through your practice! The whole point for being a Buddhist is finding happiness and joy. If your miserable, bored, lazy, unhappy, etc... than somethings not right. It's possible you need to find a different teacher, monastery, Buddhist sect, etc... basically whatever it takes to rekindle the fire. The hardest workers will always be those who love to do what they do. Whenever I look for a mechanic I always choose a person who loves to work with cars. why? Because cars is their passion. They love what they do. And many of us love to practice Buddhism. It's not hard to practice Buddhism if it makes you happy. Consider elite/competitive gamers, they love to play their video games. They will literally play for hours every single day because they enjoy it. Do they feel pressured to play those hours? No. Does it feel like a job to them? Sometimes. End games can suck, but they love it. They play games for hours because it makes them happy. Here's a quote I think you should keep in mind next time you feel obligated to push urgency into your practice,

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." - Confucius

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .