Meditation Categories Impermanence of Life

21. The Many Unpredictable Causes of Death

Longchen Nyingtik Meditation 21

The Beginning

Take refuge and arouse bodhichitta.

The Main Part

Meditate that for the moment, even though you are spared from dying abruptly or violently, the Lord of Death nonetheless closes in on you day by day like the shadow of a mountain at sunset. Many people regard the New Year and birthdays as happy occasions to celebrate, but what is there to be joyful about? In fact, the arrival of yearly holidays only draws death nearer.


In terms of external conditions that threaten life, there is no shortage of them—foes with weapons, poison, natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, fires, and hurricanes, as well as demons and illnesses—and even the very activities that sustain you, such as eating or drinking, can claim your life. Nagarjuna’s Jewel Garland of the Middle Way says: “Life has as little chance of enduring as a candle flame in a gust of wind.”


Since the causes that favor life are extremely rare, when will I die? If you maintain this thought all the time, you’ll feel a sense of urgency for Dharma practice and come to realize the essence of impermanence.

The Ending

Dedicate all the merit of your practice to all sentient beings.