This question may read a little philosophical, Buddhist, and personal.

I've been a little obsessed with death for a very long time, and feel like I have zen answer. Less interested in "the path" (I would like to practice zazen) than whether my conclusion is sound, though to an extent, if it is, I can go on my way. As well as whether it conflicts with any zazen practice. A Buddhist friend keeps telling me I'm afraid and trying to outsmart death, and they say nobody really knows, which I definitely sympathise with, but equally I believe I'm right.

So how can we know what will happen to us at death? Do we ask a teacher, ourselves, not ask about it, not worry about it, or something else entirely?


2 Answers 2


'Death' happens to a 'person', 'self-entity' or 'self'.

When the mind is free from thoughts of 'self', it will know 'death' only happens to a 'self'.

It will also know when the mind is free from 'self', there is no 'death'.

The 'termination of life' is not the same as 'death'.

These things the mind can know when entering into 'emptiness' (śūnyatā - 空).

  • i liked this answer, thanks, it's actually a lot clearer and less enigmatic thank it may 1st seem
    – user2512
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 11:22

Being a Dhamma Skeptic, you may not believe in what is been said about what lies after death, but you cannot deny that — men, women, children, lay or ordained, past, future, no matter what their level of being—are subject to aging, subject to illness, subject to death, separation. Does it not give you a sense of samvega: a sense of dismay over the nature of the human condition because everybody is subject to these same problems, but no one has shown us how to deal with aging, illness, and death, and we don’t have much training in that. The skills we have developed in life are not very helpful for dealing with aging, illness, and death when they come.

The death scares us the most because of the unknown factor. This fear is further aggravated because of our attachment to the body, our attachment to sensual pleasures, our memories and understandings that we’ve harmed others, and the fear that after death we’re going to be punished for it. And another fear is in not seen the true dhamma, and in having doubts about the true dhamma.

If you can learn to overcome these four fears of death, then you yourself will be able to find the answer that you seek. So you will have to sort through your attachments to the body, sort through your attachments to sensual pleasures, and learn to focus on the positive things you’ve done. It’s even better if you gain a dhamma­eye, a vision of the true dhamma. That’s when you can overcome your fear of death. It is at that time that you will come to know the answer to this question, as only then would you will accept the given answer.

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