These are notes on the end of chapter 10, mindfulness of physical
characteristic in the Joseph Goldstein’s book “Mindfulness”.
The last section of mindfulness of the body is the
contemplation of corpses in various states of decay.
Buddha’s contemplation in the sutta is:
Again, monks, as though he were to see a corpse thrown aside
in a charnel ground –
One, two, or three days dead, bloated, livid,
and oozing matter
Being devoured by crows, hawks, vultures, dogs,
jackals or various kinds of worms
A skeleton with flesh and blood, held together
Disconnected bones scattered in all directions
Bones bleached white, the color of shells
Bones heaped up, more than a year old
Bones rotten and crumbled to dust
He compares this same body with it thus: ‘this body too is
of the same nature, it will be like that,
it is not exempt from that fate.’
This may help with attachment to the body and to the
understanding of aging, sickness and death and looking directly at nature at
work. This is what is true for all
Goldstein mentions contemplating and looking carefully at
animals killed on the road by passing cars. It’s not a very pleasant sight. This contemplation helps us open to the universal truth of
death and decay. The point here is
not to become morbidly obsessed, but rather to use and care for the body
without the underlying attachment to it.
The Zen admonition at the end of the day:
The Evening message
I beg to urge you everyone,
Life and death is a great matter,
All things pass quickly away.
Awaken, awaken, take heed
Make use of this precious life.
And a story from Katagiri Roshi.
Katagiri Roshi was at Green Gulch Farm in California. A deer got badly hurt in the fencing that Green Gulch Farms
has around their gardens. People
were thinking about a mercy killing to help the deer who was obviously
dying. Katagiri Roshi suggested
that the students have a vigil, meditating with the deer, helping the deer in
that prayerful way, and contemplating the stages of death.
Labels: buddhism life and death, Corpse in decay, Joseph Goldstein"s Mindfulness, Katagiri Roshi, meditation on death, mindfulness, mindfulness of the body, Satipatthana Sutra, Zen's evening message