The Nine Contemplations on Death

The nine contemplations on death come from the 11th century Buddhist scholar, Atisha Dipamkara Shrijnana.

When reviewed regularly, they are meant to help us:  a) explore the inevitability of death, and b) practice what is important in light of this mortality.

This week, I’m trying an experiment in which I read the 9 contemplations to myself before I sit for ten minutes of quiet reflection.

(“Hey,” I try to persuade myself when the going gets rough,  “It sure beats sitting in the charnel grounds.”)

1     Death is inevitable.  No one is exempt.

Holding this thought in mind, I abide in the breath.

2     Our life span is ever-decreasing.  Each breath brings us closer to death.

Holding this thought in mind, I delve deeply into its truth.

3     Death will indeed come, whether or not we are prepared.

Holding this thought in mind, I enter fully into the body of life.

4     Human life expectancy is uncertain.  Death can come at any time.

Holding this thought in mind, I am attentive to each moment.

5     There are many causes of death – even habits, desires and accidents are precipitants.

Holding this thought in mind, I consider the endless possibilities.

6     The human body is fragile and vulnerable.  Our life hangs by a breath.

Holding this thought in mind, I attend to my inhale and exhale.

7     At the time of death, material resources are of no use to us.

Holding this thought in mind, I invest wholeheartedly in practice.

8     Our loved ones cannot keep us from death.  There is no delaying its advent.

Holding this thought in mind, I exercise non-grasping.

9     Our body cannot help us at the time of death.  It too will be lost at that moment.

Holding this thought in mind, I learn to let go.

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2 responses to “The Nine Contemplations on Death”

  1. Dace Liepins says:

    i am a christian, but am incredibly thankful for this meditation. I have watched loved ones die and know my life will go there too. Thank you and bless.

  2. Cornelius says:

    I will add this to my daily meditation, thank you.

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