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Buddhists/fear of death


Dear Anandapanyo,
I have a terrible fear of death. I try to meditate but I cannot as I get real panicky and my mind keeps thinking of death. I would like to know if you believe the soul is out of the body at the moment of death ? I have watched my love one die and I sure did not feel his soul had left his body as he was terrified. Death is something that should not happen and I feel hopeless at the hands of this frightening beast I am 60 and scared to live encase I die, Can you help ease my fears so I can learn to live again

Dear Rosemary,

I appreciate your question and will try to answer it to the best of my ability.

"I would like to know if you believe the soul is out of the body at the moment of death?"

I do not know for certain when the soul leaves the body. The moment of death can be classified as the moment of death for the body or the moment of death for this life. If the moment of death for the body, it might be when the heart stops beating. If it is the moment of death for this life, it will be when the soul leaves the body. So the question would be which are we referring to?

"Death is something that should not happen"

I don't actually agree with this. For people who are not ready, or people who feel they have not done what they wanted to do, they will feel that death comes too soon. For those people who are suffering, or who have finished all they felt they needed to do, death comes too slow. It is not a matter of death being bad, but more of the frame of mind we are in when we think about death.

If we are sad, then thinking about death will make us sadder. If we are confident and finished, thinking about death could actually encourage us to life a fuller life. Death itself is both good and bad, and neither good nor bad. It is merely our opinion of death that changes.

Instead of contemplating death, we should take a look at why we are afraid of death. What are we afraid of?

Do we feel things will be left undone? Such as what?

Do we regret things we will not be able to change? Such as what?

Do we fear the unknown? Where we will go?

We must identify clearly what is the actual thought that scares us. That way, we can properly combat the fear of death. For each person who fears death, their reasons are valid, yet unique.

The reason the contemplation of death scares you is not that death is scary, but rather the conclusion you come to when you finish your contemplation. If you conclude that death should not happen and that you are hopeless, then you will be scared and hopeless.

If you rather conclude that death is normal and unavoidable, we could feel encouraged and see the value in life.

Instead of looking at death, why not contemplate your life? What have you done? What have you accomplished? What have you finished? What are some of your lasting positive memories. The Buddha always taught moderation, therefore we must not only contemplate the negative of death, but also the positive.

I hope I have answered your questions


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Anandapanyo Bhikkhu


I can answer questions about Buddhist practice, Buddhist understanding and how to apply Buddhism to daily life. I can help analyze Buddhist sayings and teachings. In addition, I can help with questions Buddhism stories, fables and Vinaya(rules). I have meditated for over 10 years and can help you start with meditation. In addition, I can help provide insight into what to do when you feel that you have hit a wall with your meditation. My main area of expertise is how to think in accordance with Sammaditthi (the right view - and number 1 in the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. If I cannot answer your question, I have many able teachers with over 20 years experience to help me, so chances are I will be able to find an answer for you.


I have been practicing Buddhism since I was born, but as a serious practice since 2003. I started studying under various famous Thai Theravada masters. Finally, I met and studied under Phra Acariya Thoon Khippapanyo who has recently passed away on Nov 11, 2008 and is widely accepted as a great Arahant (fully enlightened) teacher of our time. In addition, I have personally read and studied much of the Buddhist scriptures and popular literature available. I have recently undertaken the ordination vows and have become a Buddhist monk in the theravada forest monk tradition. I reside at a temple with many dedicated practitioners and great teachers. I have been practicing training my mind to be aligned with right view (sammaditthi) for over 10 years. I have also been meditating for over 10 years. In my time spent with Acariya Thoon, I learned many things and was able to incorporate them into my life. In addition to practicing Buddhism within temples and my home, I used to own two restaurants and managed commercial real estate. I had to deal with many different and problems. I learned how to use Buddhism to fix my problems, both externally (my environment) and internally (within me).

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