How to Make Our Life & Death Meaningful

Reading from Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully on BBC Radio 4

An extract from Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's book Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully - The Profound Practice of Transference of Consciousness was read out as part of the BBC Radio 4 programme, Something Understood with Mark Tully.

This book explains how coming to terms with our mortality enriches our life and helps us to meet our death with dignity, confidence, and joy. This book is based upon the ancient wisdom of the Kadampa Buddhist lineage teachers, as passed down to Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso from his teacher.

  • Be inspired to use your life wisely by developing the inner refuge of spiritual realization
  • Understand how to live a pure, liberating lifestyle in which every moment is meaningful
  • Discover special practices to perform as our death approaches
  • Learn practices to assist others who are dying

  • Listen to the recording of the radio show

    A weekly programme, the BBC radio 4 show, Something Understood, featured a reading from the book Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully on Sunday 24 September 2017.

    Visit BBC Radio to listen to the show.

     

    Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully

     

    Buy the book

     

     

    Woman sitting, contemplating life

     

    What is the meaning of life? And how can we think about our own death? Here are some inspiring quotes from the book, Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully which provide some helpful answers.

    Quote symbol

    The Meaning of Life

    ‘Although intellectually we all know that one day we will die, generally we are so reluctant to think of our death that this knowledge does not touch our hearts, and we live our life as if we were going to be in this world forever. ... We are so preoccupied with the concerns of this life that there is little room in our mind for genuine spiritual practice. When the time of death actually arrives we discover that through having ignored death all our life we are completely unprepared.’

     

    '... if we base our life on a realistic awareness of our mortality we will regard our spiritual development as far more important than the attainments of this world, and we will view our time in this world principally as an opportunity to cultivate positive minds such as patience, love, compassion and wisdom. ... When the time of our death comes we will be able to pass away without fear or regret, our mind empowered by the virtuous karma we have created.'

     

    'Thinking about our impending death again and again we may feel afraid; but it is not enough just to feel fear. Once we have generated an appropriate fear of dying unprepared we should search for something that will offer real protection.'

     

    'Even if we were to possess all the wealth in the world, at the time of our death it would be useless because we would not be able to take any part of it along with us and it would not alleviate the slightest bit of our suffering. There is a saying in Tibetan that when death comes the king who sits on a golden throne and the poor man who goes begging from town to town are both equal.'
    Buy the book

     

     

    Woman on a beach at night, next to an empty swing

     

    Losing a loved one is difficult to bear and we will all face this experience at some time in our life. These quotes from the book Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully will help us to move forward with confidence and peace of mind.

    Quote symbol

    Dealing With Death

    'Preparing for death is one of the kindest and wisest things we can do for both ourself and others.'

     

    'There is no doubt that if we dedicate our virtue with the pure motivation of compassion we can definitely benefit those who have died. ... Our prayers and dedications can definitely prevent the deceased from taking a lower rebirth and lead him or her to a higher rebirth, such as the Pure Land of a Buddha.'

     

    'Contemplating our own death will inspire us to use our life wisely by developing the inner refuge of spiritual realizations; otherwise we will have no ability to protect ourself from the sufferings of death and what lies beyond. Moreover, when someone close to us, such as a parent or friend, is dying, we will be powerless to help them because we will not know how; and we will experience sadness and frustration at our inability to be of genuine help. Preparing for death is one of the kindest and wisest things we can do for both ourself and others.'

     

    '... while the dying person is still able to hear and understand what we are saying it is very important to keep their mind calm and peaceful, to encourage them, and to prevent them from becoming upset or unhappy. In this way they will die peacefully, without any disturbance.'

     

    'When we have compassion our disturbing minds such as pride, jealousy, anger and attachment are naturally pacified and our mind becomes very peaceful. Our compassion also makes others happy because we naturally care for others and try to help them whenever we can.'
    Buy the book

     

     

    Two leaves, one green and the other lifeless and brown

     

    In Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully, the author explains that through deeply considering the meaning of our death, our life will take a new direction which is full of joy and purpose.

    Quote symbol

    What Does Our Death Mean?

    When we think of death we tend to think of it as something that happens to other people, but in reality, of course, sooner or later we too will die. The time of our death is completely uncertain; there is no guarantee that we will not die today.

     

    'A person who stays in a luxury hotel for a few days has no attachment to the hotel because he knows that he will soon have to leave. In the same way there is no sense in developing attachment to the things of this life because we know that we will soon have to leave everything behind. We should encourage ourself by thinking:

     

    Now is the time to go to the Pure Land of Buddha, where all my samsaric problems will come to an end and I will enjoy pure environments, pure enjoyments, a pure body and a pure mind. My life in the Pure Land will be superior in every respect to my present life. How fortunate I am!'

     

    'Thinking about our impending death again and again we may feel afraid; but it is not enough just to feel fear. Once we have generated an appropriate fear of dying unprepared we should search for something that will offer real protection.'

     

    '... if we base our life on a realistic awareness of our mortality we will regard our spiritual development as far more important than the attainments of this world, and we will view our time in this world principally as an opportunity to cultivate positive minds such as patience, love, compassion and wisdom. Motivated by these virtuous minds we will perform many positive actions, thereby creating the cause for future happiness. When the time of our death comes we will be able to pass away without fear or regret, our mind empowered by the virtuous karma we have created.'

     

    'If we develop fear of death right now, we will use our life meaningfully by engaging in virtuous actions and avoiding non-virtuous actions, thus creating the cause to take a fortunate rebirth. When death actually comes we will feel like a child returning to the home of its parents, and pass away joyfully, without fear'.
    Buy the book

     

     

     

     

    The New Meditation Handbook
    How to Transform Your Life
    Meditations for Relaxation