The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Accaya is death in the Pali language. As will all ancient religions and philosophies the teaching of the Buddha, too, is greatly concerned with the problem of death. It is most often described as a phenomenon, as part of the process of life, the cessation of the natural function of life.
Death is the end of the present life, but not a complete cessation of everything. It is a going beyond certain limits, hence a fulfillment of time, a dis-solution of the combination which constituted life or a laying down of the bodily form. It is the end of a season, like the end of the rainy season or of the winter, holding within its folds the promise of a new spring. For, as birth leads to death, so death is the condition for new life. There is no punishment, but only a loss, which for many may be greater than the loss of wealth, but for some, very few indeed, the solution of the problem, the laying down of a burden at the completion of a task, for those “who in cessation have deliverance, in victory leaving death behind”.
The solution of the mystery of death lies in the solution of the problem of birth. For death is as natural to anything that is born, as disintegration is to whatever is composed. It is the inherent nature of the process of existence to arise and to cease.
“Death is inevitable for what is born…Just as the risen sun moves on towards its setting and never turns back even for a little while…So a living being travels on forwards death from the time he is born”.
And once the process of becoming has been in motion through the functional activity of the mind, the ensuring process of rebirth is but the conditional result. The cessation of this resultant process will be final only if the flame of passion is not being fed anew. Without the addition of new karmic activity the process of existence will run its course to its natural end, when death indeed will be a vanishing. Death is but a natural function of life. But as long as life is being revitalized by its own reproductive activity, death will be the ending of this physical existence, only to become the threshold of a new lease of life, a passing over, but not a final passing away.