Practical Ch’an Buddhism: Never-Mind Life After Death – What About Life Before Death?


When I am asked about the possibility of life after death, I always ask what about life before death? After-all, this lifetime is all we can really know for sure. How can we continue to exist after death – when we have not even worked-out whether we exist before death? I suspect the question of whether there is any existence post-mortem is a category error. It is a question premised upon false assumptions. As someone who has followed the Buddha’s path for years and experienced the reality he conveyed – I can say that there is no after-life – and I am not entirely convinced that there is an ‘existence’ in the present moment – in the conventional manner that many think there is. Attachment to Buddhism turns it into a religion – something the Buddha never intended. Why would a human-being become attached to a step (one of many) that conveys them from one place to another? Why would part of a road be anymore important than any other part? The Buddhist path is highly expendable and is designed to progress an individual before becoming completely redundant. Being attached to redundancy is nothing but dogma. But what about ’emptiness’ I hear you cry? Well, what about it? Is it real? Yes. Is it experienceable? Yes – but so what? Is it easy to achieve? No – but so what? Having no thoughts in the head is unusual but not impossible – but afterwards thoughts start to function again in a completely different way. Things are different but exactly the same. Rebirth is a myth which the Buddha rejected – but which certain Buddhists re-engaged – presumably because they could not ‘detach’ their minds from this superstition (editing the Buddha’s teachings to support this delusion). My point is that life after death is a Judeo-Christian idea that we must be alive ‘now’, and that in the future we must also ‘exist’ post-mortem (in a disembodied manner), and as such, I do not believe it is a compatible assumption for Buddhists to hold. In the West, many misconstrue Buddhist enlightenment (which is nothing other than practical and induced psychological states), for Judeo-Christian ideas of divinely inspired  ‘rapture’ and ‘grace’ – this is a grave error of interpretation that has nothing to do with Asian Buddhism. All that can be truthfully known for Buddhists is this present moment and how it relates to the past moment and the future moment. Everything else is merely imagination and extrapolation that moves the mind’s attention away from the correct analysis of its own functionality, and into the realms of imagination (and theology). By focusing and directing the mind upon the focus of correct existential awareness, we have – I believe – the foundation of modern scientific thinking. From this development, Buddhists could help the world develop new technology and medicines that reduce suffering. This can only happen if Buddhists give-up their mistaken ideas about the Dharma and renounce their habitual attachments to the Buddha’s path.

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