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Maranassati Sutta

Mindfulness of Death (1)

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
For free distribution only

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying at Nadika, in the Brick Hall. There he addressed the monks, "Monks!"

"Yes, lord," the monks replied.

The Blessed One said, "Mindfulness of death, when developed and pursued, is of great fruit and great benefit. It plunges into the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end. Therefore you should develop mindfulness of death."

When this was said, a certain monk addressed the Blessed One, "I already develop mindfulness of death."

"And how do you develop mindfulness of death?"

"I think, 'O, that I might live for a day and night, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.' This is how I develop mindfulness of death."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, already develop mindfulness of death."

"And how do you develop mindfulness of death?"

"I think, 'O, that I might live for a day, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.' This is how I develop mindfulness of death."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, develop mindfulness of death."... "I think, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to eat a meal, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.'..."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, develop mindfulness of death."... "I think, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.'..."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, develop mindfulness of death."... "I think, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.'..."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, develop mindfulness of death."... "I think, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.' This is how I develop mindfulness of death."

When this was said, the Blessed One addressed the monks. "Whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for a day and night... for a day... for the interval that it takes to eat a meal... for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' -- they are said to dwell heedlessly. They develop mindfulness of death slowly for the sake of ending the effluents.

"But whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food... for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' -- they are said to dwell heedfully. They develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.

"Therefore you should train yourselves: 'we will dwell heedfully. We will develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.' That is how you should train yourselves."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.

Mindfulness of Death (2)

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
For free distribution only

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying at Nadika, in the Brick Hall. There he addressed the monks, "Monks, mindfulness of death -- when developed and pursued -- is of great fruit and great benefit. It plunges into the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end. And how is mindfulness of death developed and pursued so that it is of great fruit and great benefit, plunges into the Deathless, and has the Deathless as its final end?

"There is the case where a monk, as day departs and night returns, reflects: 'many are the possible causes of my death. A snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, a centipede might bite me. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. Stumbling, I might fall; my food, digested, might trouble me; my bile might be provoked, my phlegm... piercing wind forces in the body might be provoked. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me.' Then the monk should investigate: 'Are there any evil, unskillful mental qualities un-abandoned by me that would be an obstruction for me were I to die in the night?' If, on reflecting, he realizes that there are evil, unskillful mental qualities un-abandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die in the night, then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, and alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, and alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head, in the same way the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, and alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. But if, on reflecting, he realizes that there are no evil, unskillful mental qualities un-abandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die in the night, then for that very reason he should dwell in joy and rapture, training himself day and night in skillful qualities.

"Further, there is the case where a monk, as night departs and day returns, reflects: 'many are the possible causes of my death. A snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, a centipede might bite me. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. Stumbling, I might fall; my food, digested, might trouble me; my bile might be provoked, my phlegm... piercing wind forces in the body might be provoked. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me.' Then the monk should investigate: 'Are there any evil, unskillful mental qualities un-abandoned by me that would be an obstruction for me were I to die during the day?' If, on reflecting, he realizes that there are evil, unskillful mental qualities un-abandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die during the day, then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, and alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, and alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head, in the same way the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, and alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. But if, on reflecting, he realizes that there are no evil, unskillful mental qualities un-abandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die during the day, then for that very reason he should dwell in joy and rapture, training himself day and night in skillful qualities.

"This, monks, is how mindfulness of death is developed and pursued so that it is of great fruit and great benefit, plunges into the Deathless, and has the Deathless as its final end."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.

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