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  • Ajahn: OK, so since the last talk last Friday, I've been doing my usual practice of flying around

  • the place, that's not levitation, that was in Qantas, because I accepted an invitation to

  • teach in a conference over in Melbourne, so I was there on Wednesday night and Thursday.

  • It was a conference on depression and anxiety, but I'm not going to talk about those things

  • because I've talked about them many times, and anyone who's interested in those subjects

  • there's lots of talks about those things.

  • But interestingly when I was over there with many health professionals working in the area

  • of depression and anxiety, many of those professional came up to me and said how grateful

  • they were of the talks, which are delivered here on a Friday night and how many

  • people actually listen to them regularly.

  • So much so they also knew that I take requests for subjects for talks so one of the people over in Melbourne

  • said, "There's something you've never talked about and I want you to talk about it next Friday."

  • So this is a suggestion, which I got from Melbourne on Thursday night.

  • I don't think I have talked about this. It's a bit of an esoteric subject because they asked me to talk

  • about the first couple of days after you die.

  • What happens to you when you die? I'm not sure if you have any plans for this weekend,

  • but just in case... [laughter]

  • Ajahn: ...I'm going to tell you what's going to happen. It's going to be based on a number

  • of sources. First of all you've got your own meditation. I've got very strong meditation.

  • It's not actually memories, it's understanding how the mind works and how it interacts with the

  • body. That's a great understanding you get after many many years of meditation.

  • You know exactly what's going to happen because you know the nature of the mind, the nature

  • of the body. There's a particular type of meditation which I've been teaching for a

  • long time now, the Jhanas.

  • They're very deep meditations. I've been quite outspoken about what happens. That gives you

  • a very good lot of information about what happens when you die. I'm going to mention why afterwards.

  • You've also got what we call the evidence-based stories, of people who remember the spaces

  • between their lives and there's quite a few people who can remember those spaces between their previous lives.

  • They either do this spontaneously or they can have training to remember that time. The

  • last piece of evidence which is perhaps the most interesting and the most confirming,

  • is those people who have those experiences of dying either in accidents or in an operation,

  • floating out of their body, being told it's not their time, coming back again and essentially

  • giving you some insight into what happens when you die.

  • These aren't just Buddhists, these are ordinary people from many different parts of life, who come

  • back with the same stories.

  • I am going to bring all those threads together in this talk about, what's going to happen to you when you die.

  • It's not something which doesn't relate to your ordinary daily life, because it highlights that

  • the most important thing in your life is the attitudes, the way you react to what you have

  • to experience from time to time.

  • You find with this practice, which we teach here, it's amazing what you can do with any

  • situation. You can react in this beautiful, very positive way, yeah positive.

  • "What do you mean by positive way?" I mean by making peace, being kind, being gentle

  • with these things. Learning from them, accepting them, embracing them, not fighting them, not

  • being negative, not being angry, not being afraid.

  • All these negative emotions, which you know in your very life, here today, cause incredible

  • amount of problems. They are the ones which might cause problems to you, once you die.

  • Let's go back to what happens just before you die, because that will inform what happens afterwards.

  • Life is a continuum. It doesn't suddenly change.

  • When you go to bed at night, you wake up pretty much the same person in the morning, a little

  • bit older, but pretty much the same, at least recognizable. You don't morph into something different.

  • This is what happens even when you die. There is not a sudden morphing into something terribly

  • different. People just before they die... I am talking about slow deaths, of illness, old

  • age, sickness, that type of death.

  • Not the sudden deaths, but it's a general and very slow turning off of the body, and

  • with that body what we call the five senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and

  • touching. It's as if the body turns off very slowly.

  • I have been very fortunate in my life as a monk. I get to do some realy really interesting

  • things as a monk. I admire and recommend the lifestyle. I do things that you guys will

  • never get to do. It's really exciting.

  • Like being with people when they are dying. That's one of my jobs. To see the death just happenning

  • as a process. What they take is a life force, which is just a body force, fading away.

  • I remember the first time I saw that. It was quite obvious there's no point of death. There's

  • no time. You can't say that a person died at 8:09. That's what the clock says over there.

  • It's a whole process which happens over many minutes.

  • The death process starts, the doctor said, "It's now finished," and it happened somewhere

  • in between. It's not a point, it's a process. That's very important to understand.

  • This whole life is a process. It's not an event. When you understand that you understand

  • also that if it's a process, that process can continue on. It doesn't suddenly stop.

  • What does stop is these five senses disappear. In other words, no seeing, no smelling, no

  • tasting, no touching, no feeling.

  • That's how we find out if a person's dead. We poke them, we kick them, we shout in their

  • ear. "You still alive?" See if there's anything happening in their body.

  • A lot of times, what nurses do, or doctors do, they open the eyes and put a light in

  • their eyes to see if there's any physical reaction. See if there's any response. Can they actually see.

  • One of the things I know from meditation is, that's also what happens when you get into

  • some deep meditation. Your five senses disappear.

  • Many of you who've got close to that, you're sitting down meditating, you can't feel your

  • hands, you can't feel your legs, OK, your body's disappearing. Great, that's what's supposed to happen.

  • In meditation you're not dying. You can come out afterwards fully alive. In death this

  • is almost like a permanent fading away of the senses. At least in meditation you get

  • a feeling of what it's like.

  • Number one, when your body starts to disappear in meditation, it feels good. It feels bloody

  • good. I don't mind using expletives, because that's what it feels like.

  • I don't know about you, but I'm getting old now. This is my 60th year. You get all sorts

  • of aches and pains. I don't know what it's like to be 65, 70, 75, 80, like some of you

  • guys in here, but it gets worse.

  • I know my body's going to be more achy, more things wrong with it, and it's just so nice

  • to get rid of the body, and have a break from it.

  • When your body starts to disappear, you feel this wonderful pleasure of freedom. You have

  • no aches, no pains. When I was meditating a few minutes ago, I had no irritation in my throat at all.

  • This has been bugging me for the last couple of weeks. Ever since I came back from Indonesia.

  • I think it's a bit of an allergy, so please please please be kind to me, and don't give me any medicines.

  • Last week I got some much medicines, and people put on the Internet that I was sick, and,

  • God, I got too much medicine. Please don't do that to me. I've got a whole chemist shop.

  • [laughs] Leave me alone.

  • It fixes up by itself. One of the things I noticed in meditation a few minutes ago, all

  • the irritation totally vanished.

  • It was wonderful. You're free, and just didn't have any irritation to worry about. This is

  • what happens when the body starts to disappear. You feel this beautiful sense of ease and freedom.

  • You got no business to do with seeing things, smelling, tasting. Many of you will know,

  • in your own meditation, doesn't matter if it's very deep or it's shallow yet, you get

  • deep eventually. Just give it time. The one thing which keeps irritating you, most of all in

  • meditation, is the sound.

  • Now like Brolly's [?] kid crying outside in the beginning, or somebody else

  • making a noise, or coughing. You know that's why that we use alarm clocks to wake you up

  • in the morning?

  • Even the Buddha recognized, and this is one of his teachings, that sound is the last of

  • the five senses to turn off. When you're dying, it's the sound that's the last thing which

  • disappears. That's the way you can actually get into people's minds, and get them out of meditation.

  • I remember some time ago there was a guy, we'd just finished a retreat over in North Perth,

  • it was one of my monk disciples, he was in a deep meditation. We were cleaning up.

  • We left him there, but then we were cleaning up, and it was time to go. He was still sitting

  • there. It was my job to try to get him out of the meditation.

  • Of course, you don't shake him. He won't feel any shakes. You talk in his ear, and get him

  • out that way. Sound is the last of the fives senses which disappears.

  • Understanding that, in the process of dying, if a person's in a coma, if you think they're

  • about to go, speak to them because of all those five senses that is the one which is

  • the most likely they will hear.

  • Forget about shaking them or touching them. Sound is the last of the senses to disappear

  • and many of you will know that when you meditate so this is evidence based.

  • They just start to disappear, the five senses, and when they so disappear there is a great

  • feeling of relief and ease and peace because the body is irritating.

  • Imagine what it's like when you're really sick and dying. That's really a heavy time. Fortunately, though,

  • that in our modern medicines you know we get dosed up usually with Morphine. Many Buddhists

  • have asked me that's terrible I want to be there when I die, this is an important time in my life .

  • I don't want to be in this dull state, but you don't have to worry about that, take that

  • Morphine because what happens during the dying process, that the mind, this sixth sense usually

  • uses your brain, but it doesn't have to use the brain

  • once the brain stops and the brain dies. In other words, your mind does not need that

  • brain anymore. It can be free from the brain and what actually happens in the last minutes or two

  • sometimes more, sometimes less of your life, you get clarity.

  • I was talking about this about my mother in London, because she's got complete Alzheimer's

  • Disease. Two years ago, a year and half ago when I went see her she just cannot recognize

  • me, she didn't know who I am.

  • I was with her for two years, sorry for two hours, talking to her, being with her she didn't

  • know who I was. Although, strangely out the blue in two hours with all the talk she said,

  • she mentioned the word monastery.

  • Which was really weird and my brother picked up on that. It was totally out of context with everything

  • else she was saying, but it was something in there that obviously knew that there was something

  • monastic there, you know with the person that she was with.

  • For people who have such bad Alzheimer's Disease in their last minutes of their life they will be

  • clear, they will wake up, they will remember everything because that's the nature of your mind.

  • It uses the brain for most of your life, but it does not have to use the brain. And in

  • that last few moments of life it separates from the brain.

  • I remember first reading about that when I was a student. I remember in the reading widely

  • in literature and I use to read Tolstoy and he said one of these stories and it was a

  • fascinating story, because it was over 100 years ago.

  • There was a story of a person, quite a wealthy person, in a country house who had this sickness

  • and who was in pain constantly, moaning and screaming. Literally 24 hours a day, would

  • not sleep. It was driving all the people in the house crazy.

  • Imagine you're in a house and there's someone moaning and screaming in pain, and there's

  • nothing you can do about it. Being wealthy they tried to get all sorts of therapy, homeopaths,

  • allopaths, everything, but nothing could relieve this person's pain.

  • Tolstoy, beautiful writer, was describing the emotions of the people who had

  • to deal with this for many weeks. At the end of the story he mentioned that everything

  • suddenly went quiet in the house, but the man hadn't died yet.

  • For 5 or 10 minutes he was free of pain. Clear, lucid. Before he passed away. That's so common

  • and I'm not sure if there are any doctors or nurses who have witnessed that, I have

  • witnessed that the last few moments of a person's life are clear.

  • There's a person who comes here regularly I'm not sure if they're here tonight. They told

  • of me the story that they were with their father, here in Perth, he was dying and she

  • was with her sister. They were sitting on either side of the bed holding their father's hand.

  • He was in a coma and hadn't spoken for many, many hours or a day or two I'm not sure.

  • They were just waiting for him to die, waiting for that last breath to come out and not

  • come in again, holding his hand. Of course you never know when that moment is going to happen.

  • I've been there with people and sometimes you're waiting there for hours. They seem

  • as if their last breath and you think that's it and suddenly they breathe in again. In

  • this particularly case it was his last breath, he stopped breathing, but then he opened his eyes.

  • He leaned up from his bed and looked around at his two daughters on either side. They

  • said that without any plan, they said in perfect synchronicity we love you dad.

  • Then he closed his eyes and passed away. But what really we took their, took them by surprise

  • was that even though he had been in a coma for such a long time, even though he was not

  • supposed to see or feel, for the last minute, he did. He looked them in the eye and they

  • could speak to him their last words.

  • There was even a better example which was in the "TIME" magazine of all things. Article

  • on the mind. This was the most amazing time when the mind separated from the brain.

  • The thing here was we did have a copy of this in our monastery I think 2009 or 10 or something,

  • January edition TIME magazine of the mind, but anyways there's a doctor over in the United

  • States was treating a person with a brain tumor.

  • It was a very aggressive tumor. He was in hospital waiting for the end in a coma for

  • many days, because apparently the brain tumor grows and take over the other parts of the

  • brain, until there's nothing left for a person to be able to speak or higher brain function disappear.

  • Eventually the last part of the brain is just used for keeping the body alive, for doing the

  • basic functions of breathing and keeping the heart going and the other organs going, but

  • soon there's no capacity left in the brain to do anything.

  • That's when the person dies. The fellow been unconscious for a long time, the doctor told

  • them what the prognosis was - you go into this coma and never come out again. But this person did come out.

  • He just again opened his eyes, he bent up, but this fellow talked to his family for 15 minutes,

  • saying their last goodbyes for 15 minutes he was totally clear before he died.

  • The doctor was totally amazed, it couldn't have happened, but it did because by that

  • time there's nothing left in the brain to perform such functions.

  • I've I told many of you many years ago, Professor John Lorber, about the boy with no brain.

  • An honours student in mathematics at Sheffield University, sorry, an honours graduate who had

  • a slightly misshaped skull and the doctor gave him a brain scan, a CT scan, and there

  • was only one percent cortex there, everything else was missing. Basically as Professor Lorber said,

  • he had no brain to speak of.

  • There's no way that that small amount left could compensate for everything which was missing.

  • When I tell that story, I also want to do research, and I ask people, because his whole head was filled

  • with cranial fluid. There's no brain there, no grey matter.

  • So I ask people if you can do an experiment and help me. Can you move your head from back

  • to forth? See if you can hear any sloshing inside. That must be you as well. You've got

  • no brain, it's just cranial fluid.

  • That fellow was an honours student in mathematics. Brilliant, normal, had a girlfriend. In every

  • which way, you wouldn't know he had no brain.

  • How can that work?

  • As far as I know, as far as Buddhism knows, your mind, the ability to cognize, to form

  • thought, to exercise will, is independent of your body. Especially independent of your brain.

  • At the last moments of life, that's what happens.

  • Your mind gets free of this brain and this body. So it can become clear. That's very well

  • documented as evidence based.

  • The last moments of your life you'll be clear. I know the last moments of my mother's life

  • she'll be very clear. Now what do you do with those last moments? That's the next thing.

  • For those people who have sudden deaths, they experience themselves outside of their

  • body looking on. That's evidence based. That's actually what happens.

  • Many people have reported what they call NDEs, Near Death Experiences. Going out of their

  • body, and being. Having the experience of being able to see, and hear, but without a physical body.