Author Topic: Feel like I'm dying? Anyone care to share or explain this feeling?  (Read 1790 times)

Offline tomatosupu

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I was wondering if anyone else felt this feeling and can share their thoughts of experiences with this?

I'm at a point in my practice where, after being constantly aware of, and letting go of my human attachments, I'm starting to feel like I'm (the ego) dying.
For example, up to this point in my life (30 yrs.old), I had a life story of the type of person I was...the personality I had...the school I went to, the movies/books I loved. But now I feel like it was all a lie, it was all just unreal. I feel like I'm dying. I no longer hold on to the past and feel more present. I don't have a personality anymore. It's like, I don't even know who I am anymore. Sure, I can dig up some memories of what I did yesterday, or a week ago, a month ago. But that doesn't feel like me anymore. I don't know who I am, just that I'm very depressed, and I cry a lot while meditating now, realizing that I was just a lie. That I had never existed, but was merely a reflection of different kinds of energies. It's quite depressing. Anyone else feel this?

 I was lying in bed one day, about a month ago, just staring at the ceiling while my husband was cooking dinner.
I remember all of a sudden feeling that enlightenment was so incredibly simple...too simple in fact. So simple that it could not be conceptualized, or thought of, because that would destroy its simplicity. So simple it was very hard to grasp, because it was beyond something that could be grasped. I felt like I was nothing and everything at the same time. It was like...the bed I was lying on was me, as was this air I breathed in, the smell of cooking oil, the light that shone from the lamp above. I don't know what it was, just that I lost my sense of self.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 12:39:06 am by tomatosupu »

Offline Dianet

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Re: Feel like I'm dying? Anyone care to share or explain this feeling?
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2015, 09:07:00 am »
Hi tomatosupu,

I (whoever I imagine myself to be at the moment) have a bad habit of answering a question with a question.

What I really wonder about at the moment is 1) What brought you to Buddhism? How did your interest start? Your English usage sounds American and this is a very unusual path for us. and 2) What teachers, methods, lineages, books, videos, etc are you drawing your inspiration from? I ask this second question because from my perspective, it seems as if you may have lost your way a bit.

Although I'm probably a bit above average on the "prone to depression" scale, I've never found Buddhist study or meditation to be a cause of it. Perhaps I just haven't progressed far enough (smile).

I see letting go of the imaginary self as a freeing experience, sort of scary and exhilarating.

If it is causing you great sadness, perhaps there is another focus or direction you could take in your practice.


Offline tomatosupu

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Re: Feel like I'm dying? Anyone care to share or explain this feeling?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2015, 09:56:13 am »

I don't have a set teacher, just that I read many books on Buddhism, both Theravada and Mahayana. I do favor Jiddhu Krishnamurti and Eckhart Tolle to help explain things, but I also read sutras and lots of Zen books. Basically, whatever calls to me.

I am American and born into a Buddhist family though briefly in college I was Christian. Nothing wrong with Christianity, just that it didn't help explain all the questions I had in my mind

You mentioned I lost my way. What do you mean by that, and how do you know one lost the way?

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Feel like I'm dying? Anyone care to share or explain this feeling?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2015, 02:38:20 pm »
TS:  "I'm at a point in my practice where, after being constantly aware of, and letting go of my human attachments, I'm starting to feel like I'm (the ego) dying."

If you mean that all mental concepts and fabrications of a self are dissolving, dissipating, and dispersing, then you may be experiencing the results of Right Knowledge and Understanding.  In the suttas Buddha explains that Arahants (those who have attained unbinding and release in this life) clearly and vividly understand the difference between "the mundane self", that process of becoming, which is and has been constantly evolving and refining since we first gained awareness as conscious processes and that which Buddha describes in his discourse regarding "dependent co-arising", and the absolute "no self", which Buddha describes in  his annatta doctrine:

Annatta (no self / not self):

Transcendental Dependent Arising / Dependent Origination / Dependent Co-arising:

My suggestion would be to stay with, and simply observe your intuitive sense for awhile and see where it takes you, remembering that the first precept (Cause no harm) is truly the prime directive of Buddhism.  Be alert to the fact that this precept is of critical importance if your intentions turn to desires or longings to cause personal harm to yourself, particularly if you have been dealing with depression as you indicated in previous posts.  Such feelings or impulses should be discussed with a health professional if they persist.  Causing intentional harm always results in non-beneficial consequences and should be reported to a medical professional urgently.  Do not ignore such feelings or motives.

The Vinaya Rules for Monks deals with this issue under the topic of "harmlessness":

(I) Harmlessness 
◊ Throughout its history Buddhism has been renowned for its tolerance and compassion towards all living beings and this is reflected in the Buddhist monks' Vinaya. Their rules cover situations of causing harm ranging from murder — which is universally accepted as a crime — to such things as destroying plant life.


The third Defeater (Paaraajika) Offence deals with murder. The original story describes how some bhikkhus wrongly grasped the Buddha's meditation teaching on the loathsome aspects of the body[38] and, falling into wrong view, committed suicide or asked someone to end their lives for them. The rule can be summarized like this:

"Intentionally bringing about the untimely death of a human being, even if it is still a foetus, is [an offence of Defeat.]" (Summary Paar. 3; BMC p.78)
◊ A bhikkhu must not recommend killing, suicide or help arrange a murder.[39] Also, because in this rule a human being is defined as beginning with the human foetus, counting "from the time consciousness first arises in the womb," he must not advise or arrange an abortion.

There is no offence if death is caused accidentally or without intention.[40]


The previous offence was one of Defeat for murder whereas this rule is one of Confession (paacittiya) for killing animals. It originally arose because Venerable Udaayin, a frequent delinquent, detested crows so much that he shot them with arrows and then displayed their cut-off heads.

"Deliberately killing an animal — or having it killed — is [an offence of Confession]."(Summary Paac. 61; BMC p.423)
'Animal' here is paano, literally 'having breath.' The Commentary explains that it includes living beings down to the size of a bedbug. Elsewhere the texts forbid the killing of "even an ant."

◊ One of the bhikkhu's requisites is a water filter. This is employed to prevent the killing of (visible) waterborne creatures when making use of water from a well or stream. Practically, this also leads bhikkhus to take extra care that they cover water jars or regularly change water so that mosquito larvae do not have opportunity to breed. This shows how the Vinaya Rule emphasizes care and forethought as 'preventive medicine.'

There are two rules concerned with bhikkhus and their use of water:

One of these offences was originally perpetrated by the notorious 'group-of-six' monks who used water that contained living beings. It can be summarized:

"Using water, knowing that it contains living beings that will die from one's use, is [an offence of Confession.]" (Paac. 62; BMC p.424)
In the second offence the monks of AA.lavii were doing repairs and 'sprinkled grass and clay' with water that they knew contained life. It is summarized:

"If a bhikkhu knows that water contains living beings but still pours it out onto grass or earth it is [an offence of Confession.] Also pouring — or having it poured — into such water anything that would kill the beings therein is [an offence of Confession.]" (Paac. 20; See BMC p.319)
Intention is an essential factor here. For example, if a bhikkhu only intends to sweep a path but accidentally kills ants in the process, there is no offence because it is not deliberate. However, ordering an animal to be killed (and it is) is an offence. (Also, if he suspects that that animal was killed to provide him with food, it is an offence to eat it. See Meat-eating.)


◊ The common belief at the time of the Buddha was that plants (and even soil) were 'one-facultied life.' Today we have ecologically 'green' beliefs that are often equivalent — at least they seem to lead to much the same attitudes.[41] (In Thailand, forest monks are well known as the best protectors of the jungle.)

The eleventh Confession offence concerns destroying plant life. It originated because a bhikkhu harmed 'one-facultied life' by cutting down trees. He continued to cut down a tree even when the tree-deva[42] asked him to stop, so she went and complained to the Buddha. This led to lay criticism of such behavior and a rule was set down:

"Intentionally damaging or destroying a living plant is [an offence of Confession.]"(Summary Paac. 11; See BMC p.294)
Therefore destroying a living plant — for instance, felling a tree, uprooting a flower, burning grass — is a Confession offence; as is picking fruit from a tree, a flower from a bush, etc. It is an offence of wrong-doing (dukka.ta) to damage or destroy fertile seeds or pips, or viable seedlings. (See Kappiya).

◊ Bhikkhus who live in tropical forest monasteries constantly have to protect both the jungle and themselves. When paths are overgrown, snakes and other dangerous 'creepy-crawlies' can be trodden on — and bite back! There also may be a need for firebreaks. One way that forest monks cope with this is a daily routine of sweeping the paths. However they are not allowed to dig or clear the land.

The tenth Confession offence arose when bhikkhus dug the ground and got others to dig, and the local people criticized them because they considered the earth to be 'one-facultied life.' The rule is phrased like this:

"Should any bhikkhu dig soil or have it dug, it is [an offence of Confession.]" (Paac. 10; BMC p.292)
Digging, breaking the surface of the earth, lighting a fire on it, pounding a stake into it are all disallowed. (If such 'earth' is more gravel or sand than 'soil' — and has no living creatures in it — it may then be dug.)

◊ It is, however, allowable for monks to hint to laypeople or novices about what needs doing as long as the words or gestures fall short of a command. When bhikkhus need paths to be cleared, necessary work done on the ground, firebreaks made, etc., any lay attendant wanting to help should listen out for hints and indications: 'A post hole dug over there would be useful'; 'make this ground allowable,' etc. What is needed can then be clarified.

◊ One practical and long term effect of these rules is that they have steered bhikkhus away from involvement in agriculture and land ownership. Such a development would also have isolated bhikkhus from the lay community because they would no longer have needed to depend on alms food.

« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 03:04:35 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline cosmic_dog_magic

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Re: Feel like I'm dying? Anyone care to share or explain this feeling?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2015, 09:06:02 pm »
I think it's shocking for the ego to discover perhaps your life was a lie, you've lead it up to this point, with a flimsy notion of success and making progress for something called I.  Depression I think is a defense mechanism of ego, it's still a part of ego's game, it's on the verge of letting go, but not really wanting or knowing how to let go of stale tendencies and notions of self.  To meditate is reconciling intellectual speculation with experience, it aligns truth and reality.  In the instance of being fully here, you step out of ego, those brief moments are precious, for understanding and healing, they lengthen with practice.  I've also read that buddhist's believe depression is laziness, so to cure depression or to cure laziness is to be rigorously apply and discipline yourself in the teachings and in meditative experience.  Study contemplate meditate.  They should all be of equal importance, but I believe people are more inclined to only study and speculate, and not do the work of just being on a cushion, so in that regard I always recommend practicing more, though I don't know what practice is for you, only speculating. 

For me the notion that I am not what I think I am or portray, is liberating, I am just here in the moment, able to enjoy a good breath and a good scent.  I can live simply in that and don't need to prove much to anyone by acquiring superfluous things just to build an ego / sense of self.  Perfectly content being simple, ordinary, yet living from the heart.

Offline tomatosupu

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Re: Feel like I'm dying? Anyone care to share or explain this feeling?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2015, 03:29:02 am »
Thank you for your replies and links to helpful articles. This helps me a lot, and it keeps me on the path. I never want to give up. There is nothing more I want in this human life than to seek the truth.


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