Before Ch'an Master Pao-fu passed away he told his disciples, "I have been feeling weak lately. I suspect that it is almost time for me to go."

Upon hearing this, some of his disciples said, "Master, you still look very healthy."

Others implored, "Master, we still need your guidance," while some urged, "Master, please stay for the sake of all beings."

One disciple asked, "Master, when it is time for you to go, will you go or will you stay?"


Master Pao-fu asked, "which do you think would be better?"

The disciple answered without hesitation, "Whether it is life or death, let it be!"

The Master started laughing, "When did you steal the words that I was going to use?"

Upon saying this, Pao-fu passed away.


To the average person, life is something to be happy about, whereas death is lamentable. To a realized Buddhist practitioner life is not something to be happy about, nor is death a cause for lament. Life and death are two sides of the same coin. The cycle of life and death is part of the law of Nature.

Many Ch'an practitioners have said that life and death have nothing to do with them. A Ch'an practitioner is neither greedy for life nor afraid of death but regards both life and death with a liberated attitude.

(Source: Hsing Yun's Ch'an Talk, Book 1)