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.

According 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 cycle of birth and death is a natural law. Chan Master Chung Chien said, "The existence and death of humans are like a drop of water. In whatever state, it always goes back to water." Chan Master Dao Kai right before he passed away said, "I am seventy-six-years old, and my conditions in the world are fulfilled. I do not long for the heavens while alive and have no fear of hell at death. I simply place myself beyond the three, realms soaring freely with nothing to bind me." In facing living and dying, Chan practitioners might conduct their funeral prior to death, pass away while sitting or standing, or go in the water singing all the way. Some might even dig their own graves in the mountains and bury themselves. They were so carefree.

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.