Christianity teaches, "Believe in God and gain eternal life." However, Buddhism believes that having faith in the Dharma does not mean we are rid of the problem of living and dying. Rather, we should see through them! Actually, living and dying are the most natural matters. Even "The Buddha was born when the conditions were right and passed away when the conditions were no longer there. He came and went solely for sentient beings! "
Life and death follow each other like a shadow. Those who are born will die and on dying will be born again. Living and dying have no end. So where do we come from before birth and where do we go upon death? Most people do not have a clear understanding of this question.
to the Buddhist teaching of the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination,
sentient beings' beginningless ignorance, or avidya, and their committing
various actions, or samskara, result in consciousness, or vijnana. As
the alaya-vijnana develops a mother's womb and becomes a living being,
it is called name and form, or namarupa, the mental and physical components
of the living being. Within months, the physical body's six sense organs
of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind mature and are called
sadayatana. After the baby is born and comes into contact with the environment,
or sparsa, he/she has feelings, or vedana, and positive and negative
sensations which develop into likes and dislikes, or trsna. Further
grasping, or upadana, is developed for what is loved and enjoyed. Because
of the actions committed by the body, speech, and mind, the being, or
bhava, for the next existence is planted. Where there is birth, or jati,
there is inevitably old age and death, or jaramarana. Death is the beginning
of another lifespan. Therefore, Buddhism teaches that transmigration
of life and birth is without beginning or end.
The life and death of sentient beings depend on their karma while the life of the liberated saints and sages is fulfilled upon the strength of their vows. It is not as extraordinary controlling living and dying. What we really need is to transcend the life and death of our thoughts. Chan Buddhism teaches, "By putting thoughts to death, our Dharma body can live." Our thoughts rise and cease from moment to moment as indicated in the Mahayana sutras, "The ceasing of the previous thought is death and the arising of the next one is birth." In reality, we face life and death every moment. The birth and death of our thoughts are like a gushing torrent and only "non-thought" can block 'the flow of life and death. If we are enlightened to the truth of dependent origination and emptiness, then we can be like" A wooden statue; viewing flowers and birds. It does not matter if thousands of obstacles are all around." We can attain the existence where life and death are one and neither exists. Therefore, the sutra also teaches, "There is nowhere to go as the previous thought ceases and the next thought arising has no place to come from."
Life does not exist only at birth, and neither does it end on death. We are like immigrants at death. We just move to another country. As long as we have the resources for existence, merit, and Dharma wealth, we need not fear about living in another land. Therefore, dying is nothing to be feared. Where we go after death is much more important.
Chan Master Dao Yuan said, "If there is Buddha amidst living and dying, then there will be no living and dying. If we understand living and dying as the truth of nirvana, then we have no aversion to them and even no desire for nirvana. We can naturally be liberated from life and death." If we can clearly understand this truth and eradicate our ignorance, our enlightenment will liberate us from the delusion of life and death. Thus, we can settle ourselves beyond the fences of living and dying and have no fear of death.