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Abstract 摘要

Death is one of the major issues for all religious traditions; it is especially so for Buddhism, as Buddhist teaching is centered upon death and the impermanence of life. This essay discusses death and dying from the framework of the philosophy of life and death, as outlined in the Māhayānic Buddhism of China. The discussion centers on early Madhyāmika Buddhism and its non-dualist approach to samsara and nirvana, this world and the other world, and life and death. The essay shows that the notions of reincarnation and karmic action offer an alternative perspective on the finitude of human existence and reflection upon life’s uncertainty pertaining to the experience of death. The author contends that the theory of interdependent origination explicated by Madhyāmika Buddhism helps Buddhists to develop adaptive qualities that enable a person to remain balanced in the maelstrom of change and impermanence. This realization of the impermanence of life and the emptiness of interdependent origination leads to the Buddhist ethical positions of no self and non-attachment.

The essay also addresses the question of hospice care from the perspective of Buddhism as a religious support system. Although Buddhists understand that suffering is a part of life, there is a general desire to avoid suffering whenever possible. Hospice care is important in Buddhism not only because Buddhists recognize the weakness and fragility of the body and mind in the process of death and dying, but also because Buddhists see the connection between the patient’s end-of-life needs, both physical and spiritual, and the well-being of other people associated with the patient. The essay argues that a positive attitude toward life and death, as presented in Madhyāmika Buddhism, can help patients and their families to deal with the pain and anxiety of terminal illness.

生死是任何哲學和宗教都不能迴避的問題,佛教更是如此。相比中國傳統的儒家思想,佛教對死亡,甚至如何去死具有更詳盡的梳理和論證。而佛教的生死觀又源於佛教的核心的教義以及其背後的哲學思考。根據佛教的教義,覺悟、解脫或涅槃意味著從根本上去除人生的煩惱,而佛教認為,人生最大的煩惱便是生死輪迴之煩惱。但大乘佛教的反對將覺悟與紅塵、涅槃與輪迴看作絕對的二元對立,因此強調在生死煩惱中體驗超越的時空和宇宙的真理。本文以大乘中觀學派為主,從其「緣起性空」的哲學脈絡和「相即不二」的辦證思維,審視大乘佛教的生死觀以及它對中國儒道傳統的補充與融合。最後,文章論述中觀學的生死觀在當代臨終關懷中的啟示意義。

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