Jarāmaraṇa is Sanskrit and Pāli for "old age" (jarā) and "death" (maraṇa). In Buddhism, jaramarana refers to the inevitable end-of-life suffering of all beings prior to their rebirth in the cycle of saṃsāra.
- 老死 Chinese: lǎosǐ; Japanese: rōshi; Vietnamese: lão tử
- Tibetan: rga.shi
Aspect of suffering
The goal of Buddhism is liberation from suffering (dukkha). The Buddha's prescription for achieving this liberation can be found in his Four Noble Truths (dukkhasacca). In his First Noble Truth, he describes what is meant by "suffering" using the following formula found repeatedly in the Buddhist scriptures:
- "The Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkha), monks, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering..., death is suffering, association with the unpleasant is suffering, dissociation from the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one desires is suffering — in brief the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering."
Elsewhere in the canon the Buddha further elaborates:
- "And what is aging? Whatever aging, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called aging.
- "And what is death? Whatever deceasing, passing away, breaking up, disappearance, dying, death, completion of time, break up of the aggregates, casting off of the body, interruption in the life faculty of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called death."
Conditioning and escape
Jarāmaraṇa is the last of the Twelve Nidānas , directly conditioned by birth (jāti), meaning that all who are born are destined to age and die. In the Buddhist Pali Canon's "Subjects for Contemplation Discourse" (Upajjhatthana Sutta, AN 5.57), the Buddha enjoins followers to reflect often on the following:
- I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging....
- I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness....
- I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death....
In the Pali Canon, aging and death affect all beings, including gods, humans, animals and those born in a hell realm. Only beings who achieve enlightenment (bodhi) in this lifetime escape rebirth in this cycle of birth-and-death (saṃsāra).
Late in his life, the Buddha expresses disgust with aging and death in the Jarā Sutta:
- is trampled by old age.
- which spares no one,
- which tramples all.
Echoing the Jarā Sutta's verse, the closing couplet of the Soṇā Sutta records the words of a newly enlightened bhikkhuni, celebrating her transcendence of saṃsāra:
- I spit on old age.
- There is now no further becoming