I'm just clinging to this notion that the small death (of prthagjanas) is never reversible, and never incomplete.

Leaving aside the notion of "karma" and "rebirth" and "continuity", what does the Pali canon say about "death"?

2 Answers 2


“Paticca Samuppada” is a discourse on the process of birth and death. As per the scriptures, a being is a stream of Mind connected ‘ Nama-Rupa’. When a person dies, no soul departs. The stream of consciousness ( viññana) upon death, becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new set of five aggregates of clinging (Panca Upadana Khandas) elsewhere. In the Attakara sutta, you will find that you do exist. But there is no permanent self in you and the five clinging aggregates (panca upadanakkanda) which constitutes you is beyond your control, and therefore Anatta (non-self). (read Anatta Lakkana Sutta).

The understanding of death & impermanence is an antidote to desire and ill-will, is an encouragement to our practice of Dhamma, and is a key to understanding the ultimate nature of things, the way things really are. Remembering death especially is said to be like a friend and a teacher to one, as it acts as a discouragement to excessive desire and ill-will. While death itself is certain, the time of death is uncertain. We can die at any moment. Life is like a candle in the wind, or a bubble of water. At any moment it may be snuffed out. At any moment it may burst. Thus, we ought to practice the Dhamma quickly so that we may not waste this opportunity and this precious human life.

The Buddha once gave a discourse on the impermanence of life at the village named ‘Alavi’. He admonished, 'Practice meditation on death. Reflect mindfully: Uncertain is my life, certain is my death, certainly one day I have to face death.'

The Buddha also exhorted his listeners to be always mindful and to strive to perceive the true nature of life. He also said, 'As one who is armed with a stick or spear is prepared to meet an enemy and some other poisonous and dangerous animals, so also, one who is ever mindful of death should face death mindfully. He will then leave this world for a good destination. – “Blind is this world. Few are those who clearly see. As few birds escape from a net, few go to a blissful state.” '

In many a suttas it is shown that beings in the un-ending Samsara (cycle of birth-and-death) are bound to eye as ‘me’ (considering eye as ‘me’). In a similar manner, beings are bound to ear as ‘me’, nose as ‘me’, tongue as ‘me’, body as ‘me’, and mind as ‘me’.

As long as they are bound to all these faculties, they are actually bound to Māra. In order for one to free from this bond of Māra, one needs to investigate the notion of ‘me’ about each faculty (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind) separately.

We should see that there is nothing permanent in rūpa (figure), vēdanā (feeling), saññā (perception), sanskāra (intention; volitional effort), and Viññāna (consciousness). But, we are bound to these five groups of clinging because of the thought of ‘me’. That binding results in a birth. That binding results in our death. That binding results in getting another life (birth) after our deaths.


Death is about leaving a physical body, and continued to the another process of transformation according to your doings by the whole lives as you lived in after you existed in this repeating worlds.

This phenomenon takes 2 things to another transformation

1 - Your doings on good or bad (fate)
2 - sticky or holdings of your mind (such as hobby,habitat,interests,achievements)

(1) is cleared.
(2) to explain briefly, eg. everybody can speak native speaking without trying hard, this is a stack from your last lives. And you will have a skillful on something without trying hard or even not trying as the other are affording on it. Like feeling you auto understanding on it, you will see 2nd step of facts while learning on 1st step on something. Why, because you already achieved and learned on those things. Much achievements can bring more powerful of mind success on it.

Death brings 2 of those things to your new life.

But according to Pali Pidagat, it cannot be assumed as bringing them to new life. There is no bringing in buddhism nature, all factors are appearing as new.

Like a flame on a candle, water from the stream , the flame now burning on you watching is not the same as 3 sec ago flame. and the water too, not the same as you touch on second time.

Like that, there will also be a change ,if how much you can take from the last lives. Eg, how much you are proficient at education on before this life, if you are not trying in this life, you will fail.

Buddha theories are very complicated and never get perfect on it. There is numerous factors that can cause dynamic fate on death. But I think it should enough about death.

Thank you. My answer will not contain details about death, dying.

  • Can you reference specific bits of the Pali canon? I think that's what the question is asking for.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 26, 2017 at 22:29

You must log in to answer this question.