Mindfully Facing Disease and Death: Compassionate Advice from Early Buddhist Texts eBook

Bhikkhu Anālayo

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Provides a practical guide for those facing disease and death by helping them to access the ageless wisdom of the Buddha’s teaching.

Winner of the 2017 Nautilus Silver Book Awards in the category Religion/Spirituality of Eastern Thought

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Provides a practical guide for those facing disease and death by helping them to access the ageless wisdom of the Buddha’s teaching.

Disease and death are undeniably integral parts of human life. Yet when they manifest we are easily caught unprepared. To prepare for these, we need to learn how to skilfully face illness and passing away. A source of practical wisdom can be found in the early discourses that record the teachings given by the Buddha and his disciples.

The chief aim of this book is to provide a collection of passages taken from the Buddha’s early discourses that provide guidance for facing disease and death. The present anthology focuses on the theme of compassion, and is concerned with anukampā: compassion as the underlying motivation in altruistic action.

The author draws on his own translations from the Chinese Āgama collection, presented here for the first time, alongside their counterparts from the Pāli texts, enabling readers to compare the parallel versions in English translation. Taken together with Anālayo’s practical commentary we gain a first-hand impression of what early Buddhism had to say about disease and death.

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Talks and Links

Read the moving postscript by the late Aming Tu on how he found guidance in the Buddhist scriptures as he faced cancer.

Explore chapter 4 where Anālayo presents helpful qualities of a patient and nurse.

Read a review in Tricycle magazine

Read a review in Pure Land Notes

Read the Book Brief from Buddhadharma magazine


These teachings invite us to integrate their guidance directly into the laboratory of our own meditation practice and life, in the spirit of deep investigation and inquiry. As committed meditation practitioners know first hand, there is no more worthy or meaningful introspective undertaking in the world, nor a more difficult challenge for human beings to adopt and sustain throughout life.- from the Foreword, Jon Kabat-Zinn, co-editor (with Mark Williams) of Mindfulness: Diverse Perspectives on Its Meaning, Origins, and Applications

I believe the Buddha would rejoice in this book and exhort all of us to read it and apply the ‘medicine’ within. This will help to bring about the deepest healing of all – the healing of the mind and the heart – even if we are slipping over the final frontier of death itself. What greater gift could we ever be given? Truly, this is a remarkable and wonderful book. - Vidyamala Burch, author of Living Well with Pain and Illness and co-author Mindfulness for Health, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Breathworks

In this wonderfully accessible and compassionate book Bhikkhu Anālayo illuminates classic Buddhist teachings and offers practical counsel for facing death with clarity and kindness. - Frank Ostaseski, co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project, founder of the Metta Institute

An invaluable and extraordinary resource on the profound teachings by the Buddha on dying, death, and grieving. - Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

This is an indispensable book for serious students of Buddhism. It has the potential to transform the lives of everyone who reads it. - Toni Bernhard, author of How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide

I am personally very grateful to Ven. Anālayo for all his work in bringing together the early sources of the Buddha’s teachings and painstakingly examining all possible interpretations from a range of versions (not only Pali, but Chinese and Tibetan) in a way that allows for alternative interpretations and approaches. This enables a reader like myself (from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition) to examine the texts with a sense of ever deepening knowledge and understanding both of the early sources as well as of my own tradition. - Lama Shenpen Hookham, author of There Is More to Dying Than Death, founder of the Awakened Heart Sangha, UK

Bhikkhu Anālayo's wonderful work will prove of great value not only to professionals working with chronic pain management and hospice service, but also provides very useful and practical insights for spiritual people of all traditions. - Glenn Mullin, author of Death and Dying: The Tibetan Tradition