Buddhists keep themselves very close to death as part of their practice. It epitomizes the notion of impermanence (Skt.; Pali – anitya), the first of the three marks (trilaksan) which characterize all conditioned phenomena.
One of the fundamentals of Buddha’s teachings say that all formations – things that come into being dependent on causes and conditions – are impermanent. Things, matter or form, rise and pass. They change constantly, from moment to moment, eventually decaying (Skt. dukha) and disappearing entirely. Due to this constant changing dependent on causes and conditions which is called samsara, we can never find permanent happiness. So, Buddhist practice is focused on escaping from samsara by following a strict moral code and working to purify negative karma (Pali Kamma).
Keeping death and impermanence close at all times banishes all doubts and fears. There is no use in struggling against visual loss and oblivion. It is the only reality. But this awareness forces us to realise that we are manifested in the world of form to learn these fundamentals, and wakes us to the knowing that we are essentially spirit, and spirit is empty of ego. They move us in the direction of the unknown, the invisible and the mystical which are our true dimension.
If we know death at each moment we also know life. If we accept death then we can truly accept life. If we practice desirelessness to avoid falling into the deep grooves made by millennia of conditioning and systematically eliminate negative karma, in addition to generating Bodhicitta (our aspiration for enlightenment, quitting samsara and taking all living beings with us) we will create new grooves in the universal consciousness, our true and divine nature. Then the world will change.
The world will only change if we humans change, for we are the world.
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