+1 vote
by (510 points)
Good evening Yuttadhamo & all!

I hope this question reaches you in peace & good health! I am writing you today because I have a question about the mind leading up to & during death.

If say someone was living homeless, killed during war, or otherwise died in a painful way & this affected the mind at their time of death: would this be a negative kamma influence? How would an arhat or otherwise enlightened individual overcome dying in a bad environment?

Similarly, if a person has otherwise good kamma, but suffers from a life catastrophe that derails their practice, what happens to them upon rebirth? For example, a person with a familial history of schizophrenia who dies homeless in great pain or a war veteran who has become physiologically incapable of entering a meditation or otherwise practicing meditation in a significant capacity.

Thank you for your time & wisdom,

Noah

1 Answer

+2 votes
by (17.2k points)
edited by
  • The Sakyan Mahanama asked a similar question from the Buddha. 

    “Sir, this Kapilavatthu is successful and prosperous and full of people, with cramped cul-de-sacs. In the late afternoon, after paying homage to the Buddha or an esteemed mendicant, I enter Kapilavatthu. I encounter a stray elephant, horse, chariot, cart, or person. At that time I lose mindfulness regarding the Buddha, the teaching, and the Saṅgha. I think: ‘If I were to die at this time, where would I be reborn in my next life?’”


    The Buddha answered:

    "Suppose a person was to sink a pot of ghee or oil into a deep lake and break it open. Its shards and chips would sink down, while the ghee or oil in it would rise up, headed for a higher place.

    In the same way, take someone whose mind has for a long time been imbued with faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom. Their body consists of form, made up of the four elements, produced by mother and father, built up from rice and porridge, liable to impermanence, to wearing away and erosion, to breaking up and destruction. Right here the crows, vultures, hawks, dogs, jackals, and many kinds of little creatures devour it. But their mind rises up, headed for a higher place."

         Note: this is assuming that the person lived a virtuous life for the most part.

  • A war veteran is not necessary a virtuous person
    Yodhājı̄va the Mercenary asked a similar question:
     Venerable sir, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of professional warriors that ‘When a professional warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.’ What does the Blessed One have to say about that?”.

    The Buddha answered:

    "When a professional warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, his mind is already seized, debased, & misdirected by the thought: ‘May these beings be struck down or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed. May they not exist.’ If others then strike him down & slay him while he is thus striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the hell called the realm of those slain in battle. But if he holds such a view as this: ‘When a professional warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle,’ that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."
     
  • Arahanths have ended Samsara. There is no more birth for Arahanths. They are completely at peace.
  • Read the "The mind at the time of death" section.
     
by (510 points)
Thank you for your wisdom Sankha!
Sadhu & peace friend
by (17.2k points)
You're welcome!
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