A Discourse on Paticcasamuppada

by Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw | 62,614 words

The Paticcasamuppada refers to “The Doctrine of Dependent Origination”. This is the English translation done by U Aye Maung Published by U Min Swe Buddhasasana Nuggaha Organization Rangoon, Burma....

Chapter 8 - Death-bed Visions

Consciousness in the new existence is of two kinds, viz., rebirth consciousness and the consciousness that occurs during the whole life. There are altogether l9 kinds of rebirth consciousness, one in the lower worlds, nine in the sensual worlds of human beings and devas, five in rupa brahma world and four in arupa brahma worlds. As for the others that occur during the rest of life, they number thirty two as resultant mental states (vipaka vinnana). These enumerations will be intelligible only to those who have studied Abhidhamma.

To a dying person, there appears the flashbacks of what he has done in life (kamma), the surrounding conditions associated with his kammic acts (kammanimitta) and the visions of his future life (gatinimitta). Kamma may assume the form of a flashback about the past or the hallucination about the present. A fisherman on his death bed may talk as if he were catching fish or a man who has given much alms may think in his last hours that he is doing dana. Many years ago, I led a group of pilgrims from Shwebo to visit pagodas in Mandalay and Rangoon. An old man in the group died shortly after our return to Shwebo. He died muttering the words that were reminiscent of his experience during the pilgrimage.

The dying man also has visions of the environment in which kammic deeds were done such as robes, monasteries, bhikkhus, Buddha images, etc., in connection with his acts of dana or weapons, places, victims in case of the murder he has committed.

Then he sees visions of what he will find in his afterlife. For example, he will see hell fire, hell guards, etc., if he is bound to land in hell; devas, mansions, etc., if he is to pass on to deva worlds and so forth. Once a dying brahmin was told by his friends that the vision of the flames which he saw indicated the brahma world. He believed them and died only to find himself in hell. False beliefs are indeed dangerous. It is said that some people tell their dying friends to visualize their acts of killing a cow for dana, believing that such acts are beneficial.

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