Bhikkhunī Santacittā


The practice of maraṇasati consists of three primary reflections:

Death is inevitable.
We cannot know when, where, and how we will die.
When death comes, we will have to let go of everything

These contemplations can be done while sitting in meditation, while walking, while lying down, or whenever we think of it. We can begin by taking a few breaths and grounding in the body. We might say to ourselves, “Every being that has ever lived has died—humans and non-humans, rich and poor, influential and powerless. I cannot be an exception. I cannot possibly escape this fate.”

We often think that death lies somewhere far off in the distant future, but really our death arises with our birth. Just as a thrown ball will reach a certain height and then begin to fall back to the ground, when causes and conditions are right, this body will also return to the Earth. Every moment the ball rises, it is getting closer and closer to the time when it will begin coming back down. Just so, with every year—every hour—every minute—I am moving closer and closer to my death.

This reflection works best if we come up with our own images and wording. We must make this practice our own in order to take full advantage of its potential.

This reflection by Ayya Santacittā is from the book, Leaving It All Behind, (pdf) p. 32.