“Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”

buddha_live_wisely-300x300This one’s been on my list for a while, not because there was anything unBuddhist about it, but just because I was curious. It’s forwarded a lot on Twitter and Facebook, and yet I couldn’t remember anything that very closely matched it in my reading of the Pali canon. Of course there’s a lot of the Pali canon I haven’t read, and much I’ve read and forgotten.

I didn’t see any urgency in dealing with this one, but then a reader called Helen wrote and asked about it, saying “I‘ve always loved this, but am not completely confident it’s genuine.” So I took a quick look at it.

It turns out that along with many other Fake Buddha Quotes it’s actually from Jack Kornfield rather than from the Buddha. It’s found on page 88 of his “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book.” A lot of people have been mislead by the title of the book, even though it’s made clear that the words within are Jack’s.

It’s very Buddhist in concept, though, and it’s probably a paraphrase of this canonical quote:

“And who is the person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death?

“There is the case of the person who has abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever, and craving for sensuality. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought does not occur to him, ‘O, those beloved sensual pleasures will be taken from me, and I will be taken from them!’ He does not grieve, is not tormented; does not weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“Furthermore, there is the case of the person who has abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever, and craving for the body. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought does not occur to him, ‘O, my beloved body will be taken from me, and I will be taken from my body!’ He does not grieve, is not tormented; does not weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“Furthermore, there is the case of the person who has done what is good, has done what is skillful, has given protection to those in fear, and has not done what is evil, savage, or cruel. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘I have done what is good, have done what is skillful, have given protection to those in fear, and I have not done what is evil, savage, or cruel. To the extent that there is a destination for those who have done what is good, what is skillful, have given protection to those in fear, and have not done what is evil, savage, or cruel, that’s where I’m headed after death.’ He does not grieve, is not tormented; does not weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“Furthermore, there is the case of the person who has no doubt or perplexity, who has arrived at certainty with regard to the True Dhamma. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘I have no doubt or perplexity. I have arrived at certainty with regard to the True Dhamma.’ He does not grieve, is not tormented; does not weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“These, brahman, are four people who, subject to death, are not afraid or in terror of death.”

As you can see, Jack’s paraphrase is much neater!

The full sutta can be found here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.184.than.html

If you like it, share it!
Share on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *