Maranassati Sutta: Mindfulness of Death — “it plunges into the Deathless, has the Deathless as the final end.”

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?”

 

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Buddha teaching the monks.

 

“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.’…”

 

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Buddha teaching the Dharma to disciples.

 

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.

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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Lee Kane

Author | Buddha Weekly

Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.

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