The Critical Issue of Life and Death

Life is impermanent. After we come into this world, we may live for ten years, possibly a hundred years, or perhaps even longer. But we grow, and finally we have to die. People normally think of death as the end of everything. There is nothing great about it. But according to Buddhism, our life does not begin only at the moment of birth; and death too, does not imply the end of everything. If life was as simple as this, then this would encourage us to fritter away our time with no purpose. Actually, we existed before we were born, and we will have another life after death. We will be reborn in another place and the cycle of life and death will continue endlessly. The constant rebirth into this suffering world is a bigger problem than the simple death at the end of each life! Constant rebirth is difficult to solve and it becomes a critical issue when we recognize and wish to overcome it.

The situation is analogous to a businessman who starts his business at the beginning of the year. At the end of the year, he has to account for his profit and loss, repay all his debts and get back what others owe him. This process repeats the following year, and every year thereafter. The closing of everything. The businessman plans to accumulate long term profits and increasingly valuable assets year after year. But this is not an easy task to fulfil!.

How should we handle this problem? We can be more confident about the following year's financial position if the current year's business is profitable. Everything will run more smoothly next year. However, if this year results in a loss, then next year's financial position will be tight. We may have to borrow from here or there, causing a lot of frustration, worry, and suffering for ourselves.

Life is the same. When there is birth, there will be death. During this process of life and death, we have to consider our profits and losses. If we do not put in an effort to uplift ourselves, we may lose our human status in the next life, and this will certainly be a loss! If we improve ourselves and become a better person in this life, then we will create good prospects for our future.

Although our "End of Year (life) Account" may show an unfavorable "financial (karmic) position", if we can justify ourselves skilfully, we may still get through the last difficult period. Thus, a practicing Buddhist should pay attention to the moment of their last breath. We should behave well, think positively, and be mindful at the moment of our last breath.

When we talk about life and death, some think that death means the end of everything. Thus, we must first clarify these misunderstandings about "death" before we discuss "life". People normally have a fear of death. In fact, death is nothing to be afraid of. This is analogous to the businessman who runs a good business at all times and manages it well until the closure of the financial year. When the New Year comes he will certainly enjoy a comfortable life. Therefore, as long as we have prepared well during our lives, we should be happy when we are healthy, and should not be frightened when sickness or even death comes.

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