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Minor Death vs. Cessation

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I'm reading Wang Li Ping's Opening the Dragon Gate.


References to minor deaths (and of course great deaths too) pique my interest. 


I'm guessing the Great Death is the one that occurred after the 28 days fast, when he was officially dead for three days and his teachers made a wooden plaque for him, though I could be mistaken. But there is no other mention of it in the book.


Is minor death similar to what is known as cessation (nirodha, nibbana) in Theravada Buddhism? 


Relevant quotes of the book:


During this period of time, Changchun experienced what Taoists call the Great Death no less than seven times, and went through what they call Minor Death countless times.
In cultivating refinement to this point, Wang Liping also experienced minor death several times. (Note: This is quite early in his training, mentioned after he had MCO training and baihui opening)


Thanks in advance!

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That book shook my awareness like a teepee in a tornado.

It also compelled me to spend time sharing presence with the author when the opportunity arose.


While my experiences in deaths minor and major were not in a taoist training context, i have experienced myriad 'small deaths' in my 51 years in this human form and two years ago... i passed through the 'great death' deeply and repeatedly over the course of five days.


Lingering in and out of the death process with awareness is one of the greatest revelations of the grace inherent in my life...  in the depth of the most brutal pain i have ever expereinced was overwhelming love and unbridled gratitude infused in every aspect of awareness and presence.  i lay in that bed for days in abject pain and overwhelming gratitude and bliss.  Looking back, there was a steady stream of visitors to my bed, as word spread among the staff of the guy beaming love and shedding tears of bliss as his body dissolved in pain and decay.


Now there is no uncertainty as to any aspect of life or death.


Death supports life by nourishing it through decay.

All life feeds on life.  Decay nourishes life.

Life thrives on decay.


Two aspects of one process.


Life is acquisitional and consuming. 

Decay is nourishing and utterly giving.

They are like the front and back of my hand.

Crest and trough of wave.


I don't know how it applies to Therevada, but in my own life, it's been pivotal to awakening to the raw beauty of simple beingness now.  Deep appreciation for the decaying life that feeds my vitality.  And an absolute dissolving of any lingering fears over the process of the body breaking down.


i guess i'm odd for a taoist, in that i have no interest in an immortal body, only in relishing the simple raw beingness that tao brings into being and then releases back to source...

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@silent thunder , same here I find the book rather inspiring despite other meditation practices I have had. Inspiring enough that I'm working towards sitting for 2 hours in lotus, and hoping to continue to 4 hours eventually. 


I have read good reviews about Master Wang's retreat, and will certainly keep a lookout to join one. 


Thank you for sharing your life and death experience, and I'm glad to hear how meaningful it has been for you. I had my share of illness, injuries, hospital stays etc., nothing as intense as what you described but certainly something I'd learned something from. 


One of the central tenets of Buddhism is to learn to not grasp to things as 'self', and this includes the body and the mind. Serious illness, injuries and near death experiences sure can be a great teacher for this, exposing us to our greatest fears, disintegration of body and/or mind.


Would you mind expanding a bit more of what you describe as small and greath deaths? Please be comfortable to decline for any or no reason at all, I know it is a lot of ask.

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Not sure if this is on topic or not, but...

Zhaozhou asked Touzi, "How is it when a person who has died the
great death has come to life?"
Touzi said, "While you are not permitted to go by night, you must
be there by dawn."

Yuanwu remarks on this:

People who have died the great death are all free of the BuddhaDharma,
free from its principles and its abstruseness, free from gain
and loss, right and wrong, merit and demerit; they have reached here
and rest in this way. An ancient [Yunmen] made this remark: "On the
level ground are innumerable dead people; those who can pass
through the woods of thistles and thorns are passed masters." This
can be attained only by going through that boundary. However,
nowadays it is hard for people to reach this sort of field. If they have
anything to rely on or any comprehension, they will have no
approach .... It can be attained only after dying a great death one time
and coming to life. Master Yongguang of Zhezhong [u. Setchii no Yoko
Osho, Dharma-heir to Yunju Daoyong, J. Ungo Doyo, 835?-902] said,
"If the sword of words misses the mark, you'll be tens of thousands of miles away from your native soil.

For your agreement and acceptance,
you just need to let go with the hands while hanging from a cliff. If
you come to life after death, no one could deceive you. Who could
conceal an extraordinary truth?" 


(From #78 in the "Notes" section of "Critical Sermons of the Zen Tradition:  Hisamatsu's Talks on Linji", tr. and edited by Christoper Ives and Tokiwa Gishin; with the preface:
Yuanwu makes this remark in his "Appraising and Singing"
(Ch. pingchang, J. hyosho) after the forty-first case of the Biyan-lu

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