The Three Types of Death

Master Karma

Techniques For Maintaining Good Karma

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According to Buddhism, there are three types of death:

1. The end of life: No matter how long we live, once the life that we obtained from our past karma is finished, we will die. This is like a lamp. When the fuel is consumed, the light will go out. If the "karmic fuel" for our life is for one hundred years, then, at the end of one hundred years, we will die, and there are no alternatives!

2. The exhaustion of merit: We need daily necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter in order to live. Some of us may die before we reach old age because of the exhaustion of our merits. We may die of hunger or cold.

3. Death at a time when one should not die: Some of us may die because of wars, floods, fires, accidents, sickness, lack of care or nutrition, or over-work. This type of death is different to the other two types mentioned above.

With regards to death, a practicing Buddhist should remember two points:

1. Whether we are young or old, we may die at any time. Although humans have an average life span, exhaustion of merits or unforeseen circumstances for any individual may cause us to die at any time. Life is impermanent. So we should be diligent in practicing the Buddha's teachings, and not wait until the next life, or life thereafter!

2. Do not think or misunderstand that life is determined by our past karma only. In fact, the major influence comes from our actions in the current life. If we always commit wrong deeds, do not take care of ourselves, and are lazy, then consequently we may become poor and may die of starvation while young or middle aged. But death as such does not necessarily imply the end of one's actual life process.

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