§ 49. Different Kinds of Death

Translated from the Visuddhi-Magga (chap. viii.)

By death is meant the cutting off of the vitality comprised in any one existence. Now the death of the saint, which consists in the annihilation of the misery of rebirth; incessant death, which is the incessant breaking up of the constituents of being; and death in popular parlance, as when it is said, "The tree is dead, the iron is dead," -- none of these is meant here. But what is meant here is twofold, either natural death, or untimely death.

Natural death occurs either by the exhaustion of merit, or by the exhaustion of the natural term of life, or by the exhaustion of both.

Untimely death occurs by karma cutting off karma.

Death by the exhaustion of merit is death which supervenes when the karma which caused conception has ripened to a termination, although the dependence for continuing the series constituting the term of life be not exhausted. Death by the exhaustion of the natural term of life occurs when the span of life, the nutritive powers, etc., proper to any given grade of existence, come to an end, -- in the present race of men on the exhaustion of their natural term of life at the age of only one hundred years.

Untimely death is death like that of Dusī Māra, or of king Kalābu and others, who had their series cut off by [253] karma that carried them off on the spot, or like that of such persons as have their series cut off by a bloody death brought upon them by the karma of a previous existence.


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