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Lions Roar : November 2017
ODAY I HAVE BROUGHT NOTHING MATERIAL of any substance to offer you, only Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha. Listen well. You should understand that even the Buddha himself, with his great store of accumulated virtue, could not avoid physical death. When he reached old age, he relinquished his body and let go of its heavy burden. Now you too must learn to be satisfied with the many years you’ve already depended on your body. You should feel that it’s enough. You can compare it to household utensils that you’ve had for a long time—your cups, sau- cers, plates, and so on. When you first had them they were clean and shining, but now after using them for so long, they’re starting to wear out. Some are already broken, some have disappeared, and those that are left are deteriorating. They have no stable form, and it’s their nature to be like that. Your body is the same way. It has been continually changing right from the day you were born, through childhood and youth, until now it has reached old age. You must accept that. AJAHN CHAH (1918–1992) was a renowned teacher in the Thai forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism and an important figure in the development of Vipassana (Insight) practice in the West. This teaching is adapted from Advice to a Dying Disciple, first published on January 1, 1994, by permission of the Abbot, Wat Pah Nanachat, Thailand. Death of the Historic Buddha. Japan, 14th century, ink and gold on silk. Metropolitan Museum of Art, #12.134.10 Rogers Fund, 1912 Take the Feeling of Letting Go as Your Refuge The great Buddhist teacher AJAHN CHAH’s advice to an aging student approaching her death. T LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2017 61