Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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.