The purpose of this meditation is to generate a strong feeling of having become a virtuous and happy person in dependence upon a realisation of death.
I made the appropriate preparations for meditation and then began by calling to mind my friend who has a growth in his lung. I thought about what it would feel like to be informed by a doctor of a potentially life threatening (and certainly life-changing) condition. I tried to mentally sit in his seat, and listen as the doctor explained what they had found and what they could do. I imagined walking out of the surgery, and into the car park. Everything would feel very different from normal. I would feel like my senses were keener, knowing that I may soon die. Normally we seem to skim over life, but with the realisation that life may soon come to an end, I felt like I was really engaged with the world and everything in it – people, objects, animals, sounds, smells, food – everything.
I would also feel very aware of my self, in the present moment, experiencing these things.
In Buddhism, we use the death meditation to sharpen our awareness of the world and our selves, and to ask the question – if I am to die soon, what kind of life should I lead?
In general terms, most people would want to live a happy life. The Buddhist answer is that we should lead a virtuous life, and all of Buddhas teachings are instructions on how to live a virtuous life. What is the purpose of living a virtuous life? We should wish to live a virtuous life because it is the best way to be happy. By leading a virtuous life, and practicing Buddhas instructions, we fill our mind with happy thoughts, and if our mind has happy thoughts, then we are happy.
If we only have a short time left to live, we are naturally motivated to experience as much happiness as possible in the time available. Therefore we have a strong motivation to practice virtue each and every moment.
I focused on this motivation, and brought the result into the path: I imagined strongly that I understood that I will die soon, and that I am a completely virtuous person who only engages in pure, virtuous actions. I kept my attention on this person who I want to become, and imagined that I actually am that person. I experienced that person – my experience was blissful. Whoever I meet and wherever I go, I act with virtue and I am happy. My mind is stable and virtuous. I am completely happy.
I took this as my object of placement meditation, and tried to keep my mind still and focused on it. When the feeling faded, I reminded myself of the contemplation, and when the feeling arose once more, I focused on it again. I did this till the end of the meditation session.
May all living beings become virtuous and happy, with the motivation of the realisation of death and impermanence.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to take the power of the meditation into the meditation break.