Categorie archief: LEVEN EN STERVEN

Droomyoga

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Lig, wanneer de droomstaat daagt, niet als een lijk in onwetendheid terneer.
Betreedt de natuurlijke sfeer van de onwankelbare aandacht.
Herken je dromen en zet illusie om in lichtgevendheid.
Dzogchen

Beoefening van droomyoga vindt plaats in sommige tradities binnen het Tibetaans boeddhisme of Vajrayana boeddhisme. In de visie die ten grondslag ligt aan droomyoga, wordt een parallel getrokken tussen het proces van slapen en dromen enerzijds en de verschillende stadia van het stervensproces anderzijds.
Volgens het Tibetaans dodenboek (of Bardo Thodrol) lossen tijdens het stervensproces de vijf elementen waaruit het lichaam is samengesteld zich in elkaar op. Wanneer het laatste element, ruimte, zich heeft opgelost, gaat ons gebruikelijke bewustzijn dat gekoppeld is aan het materiele lichaam, op in wat wordt genoemd het ‘heldere licht’. Dit heldere licht wordt door de Dalai Lama omschreven als een niet-conceptuele staat van zijn, waarin er geen sprake meer is van een ervaren van het zelf. Voor mensen die geen of weinig meditatie beoefening hebben gedaan, duurt de staat van het heldere licht niet langer dan een ‘klik met de vingers’. Voor ervaren mediteerders kan het zo lang duren als ‘het eten van een maaltijd’. Deze fase in het stervensproces wordt vergeleken met het eerste slaapstadium direct na het inslapen.
En net zoals dit heldere licht slechts met grote moeite door de stervende kan worden herkend, is ook de slaper zich vrijwel nooit bewust van deze staat. Het Tibetaans dodenboek over sterven In het volgende stadium van het stervensproces doen zich, zo stelt het Tibetaans dodenboek visioenachtige beelden voor van verschillende boeddhavormen. Dit kan gepaard gaan met waarneming van zeer intensieve kleuren. Dit stadium wordt vergeleken met de droomstaat. En ook in deze fase geldt weer dat het voor de meeste mensen moeilijk is om het als zodanig te herkennen, om te weten dat ze dromen en dat de droombeelden voortkomen uit hun eigen geest.
Maar wanneer we in staat zijn om tijdens onze dromen droombeelden te herkennen als projecties van onze eigen geest is de kans groter dat we dat ook kunnen gedurende de periode die op ons sterven volgt. Deze helderheid van geest tijdens het dromen, wordt tegenwoordig in Europa en de Verenigde Staten lucide dromen genoemd. Binnen het Vajrayana boeddhisme zijn er beoefeningen die vertrouwd maken met de verschillende fasen van het stervensproces. Daarnaast kan er droomyoga worden beoefend. Juist tijdens het dromen is het mogelijk om de subtiele energie-geest te oefenen. Droomyoga is een uitstekende methode om vaste conditioneringen te doorbreken.
De concrete beoefening van droomyoga vindt plaats voor het slapengaan. Binnen de verschillende tradities van het Tibetaans boeddhisme zijn er verschillende meditatie-oefeningen om de heldere droomstaat op te wekken. De beoefeningen bestaan vaak uit visualisatie, soms in combinatie met ademhalingsoefeningen. Tijdens de droom kan iemand helpen door de dromer in het oor te fluisteren ‘Je bent nu aan het dromen’. Ook overdag kan droomyoga worden beoefend. De beoefenaar traint zich dan om alle verschijnselen als een droom te zien. Wanneer hij dat consequent doet, is de kans groter dat zijn zijn dromen zich als minder substantieel voordoen.
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De innerlijke uitleg van het levenswiel

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Zes werelden van geboorte      Zes klesha’s

Goden                                       trots en zelfingenomenheid

Titanen                                     jaloezie en afgunst

Mensen                                    arrogantie en ik-gerichtheid

Geesten                                    hebzucht en gehechtheid

Dieren                                      onbewustheid en instinct

Hel                                           kwaadheid en geweld

Den-dro sum : drie hogere werelden

Ngen-dro sum: drie lagere werelden

KIJK OOK OP : http://www.buddhanet.net/wheel2.htm

Afscheid

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Afscheid nemen van een geliefde is altijd moeilijk. Ook als je elkaar weer zult zien , weet je dat uiteindelijk het afscheid weer zal komen en uiteindelijk het definitieve afscheid. Alles is vergankelijk.
De Boeddha leert je om gehechtheid en liefde niet te zien als hetzelfde. Liefde is het de ander geluk willen brengen. De ander te laten voelen , in heel zijn wezen , dat je er voor hem bent. Gehechtheid is ego-gericht. Jij kunt niet zonder die ander. Jij verwart je gehechtheid met liefde. Maar liefde is ook verwant met mededogen. Mededogen is de liefdevolle wens het lijden van de ander weg te nemen. Door de wijsheid van het afhankelijk bestaan van alle wezens en fenomen in te zien komt er een liefde voor alle wezens in je op en zie je de wijsheid in van het niet gehecht zijn aan je naasten en het niet hebben van afkeer van vreemden.

Jampa

De laatste woorden van de Boeddha

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Boeddha’s parinirvana. Kushinagar , India foto: jampa 2011

“Het is niet juist te treuren op een uur van vreugde.Jullie huilen, maar is er enige reden tot verdriet ? We zouden een wijze moeten beschouwen als een persoon die is ontsnapt uit een brandend huis. Het maakt niet uit of ik hier ben of niet ; verlossing is niet van mij afhankelijk, maar van de beoefening van de Dharma, zoals genezing niet afhangt van een bezoek aan een dokter, maar van het nemen van het medicijn dat hij voorschrijft. Mijn tijd is gekomen, mijn werk is gedaan. Aan alles komt een einde, zelfs al zou het een eon duren. De tijd van afscheid nemen breekt onvermijdelijk aan. Ik heb gedaan wat ik kon voor mijzelf en voor anderen, langer hier blijven zou doelloos zijn. Ik heb allen die ik onderricht kon geven, geïnstrueerd. Mijn onderricht zal zich vele generaties lang doen gelden, dus wees niet verstoord. Weet dat alles wat leeft onderhevig is aan de wetten van vergankelijkheid en streef naar tijdloze wijsheid. Als het licht van kennis onwetendheid verdrijft, als de wereld wordt gezien als niet-werkelijk, kan het einde van het leven worden gezien als vrede en als genezing van een ziekte. Al wat bestaat is vergankelijk. Houd daarom je verlossing voor ogen.Voor mij is de tijd om heen te gaan gekomen.” Na deze woorden verzonk de Boeddha in een diepe meditatie en stierf. De aarde schudde als een schip en donder en bliksem vulden het firmament.

Prepare yourself for death

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Buddhist principles help us to understand impermanence of all things and how to remove the causes that make it a fearful and negative experience

Death is an integral part of life, a natural process of mutation. From the very moment of our birth, a transformation begins which carries us to adolescence, adulthood, old age and finally to leave this body. Whether slowly or quickly, everything in nature changes: stones, flowers, micro-organisms, animals and all living beings. Even days are born and die, from the brightness of dawn we come to dusk before getting to darkness, only to find the light of a new day.

To understand this passage is the challenge of philosophers, spiritual seekers, and scientists, but also of every individual. In almost every culture, methods are formulated to face death in a serene and peaceful way.According to Hindus, death is a moment of rest for the soul before it continues on its path. In Bali, the rite of passage is celebrated with songs and colourful processions; Australian aborigines prepare for this moment in day long isolation.

In Buddhist tradition, particular importance has always been given to the death process, as a fundamental reflection to fully understand the meaning of life. To understand death is not only useful in that very delicate moment but also in ones daily life. To be ill or tired is a sign that one or more internal elements dominate the others in a way similar to that happening when one is about to die, causing blockages, impurity, negative influences and illnesses.

By understanding the constructive and destructive interaction of the elements, we will develop increased awareness and learn to watch, listen, touch and feel in a more positive and peaceful way.

Meditators and yogis have had very deep experiences, and they have transmitted these precious pearls of wisdom to us, by explaining how the elements which make up our body re-absorb themselves, provoking very strong reactions as well as visions. The earth element is absorbed into the water element, the water into the fire element, the fire into the wind element which is then absorbed into the space element.

At this point, according to western medicine we are clinically dead, but in reality the continued activity of the subtle mind is responsible for us experiencing three visions: the white vision which is related to the lunar energy, the red vision which is related to the solar energy, and thirdly, the black vision which is in relation to the eclipses. Following this moment of total darkness the clear light arises, during which the mind is in its most subtle manifestation, having re-absorbed all concepts.

By recreating the process of death right now, we will in reality put to death our illnesses, negative conditions and sorrows. Any negative experiences of this natural process only come about because we are creating the causes for them right now.

In the various practices transmitted by the Tantric Masters, particularly the system of re-absorbing the elements at the moment of death, we receive the potential to transform the basic experiences of our lives into opportunities to go beyond our existential limitations, mainly our attachment to the body which, however precious it may be, is only a temporary guesthouse. The full development of all our human qualities in a rich and constructive life, can only come about if based upon a deep recognition of the impermanent nature of everything.

20 jaar Het Tibetaans Boek van Leven en Sterven

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De veel geprezen spirituele klassieker Het Tibetaanse Boek van Leven en Sterven van Sogyal Rinpoche wordt algemeen beschouwd als één van de meest complete en gezaghebbende presentaties van de Tibetaanse boeddhistische leer die ooit zijn geschreven.

Het is een handleiding voor het leven en de dood en een bron van inspiratie uit het hart van de Tibetaanse traditie. Het Tibetaanse boek van leven en sterven biedt een heldere en inspirerende kennismaking met de praktijk van meditatie, met de natuur van de geest, met karma en wedergeboorte, en met barmhartige liefde en zorg voor stervenden.

Er zijn inmiddels meer dan 2,8 miljoen exemplaren van het boek gedrukt. Het boek is in 80 landen verkrijgbaar, in 34 talen. Het wordt gebruikt door universiteiten, groepen en instellingen, zowel medische als religieuze. Ook verpleegkundigen, artsen en professionals in de gezondheidszorg werken intensief met Het Tibetaanse Boek van leven en Sterven.

“Wat ik hoop voor dit boek? Ik hoop op een stille revolutie in de manier waarop we kijken naar de dood en de zorg voor de stervenden, maar ook in de manier waarop we kijken naar het leven, en de zorg voor de levenden. “

Sogyal Rinpoche

Om de twintigste verjaardag van de publicatie van Het Tibetaanse Boek van Leven en Sterven te vieren, hebben studenten van Sogyal Rinpoche een blog opgezet: Het Tibetaanse Blog van Leven en Sterven.

Dit blog bevat een aantal van de beste audio-en video-lessen gebaseerd op het boek, die Rinpoche de afgelopen twee decennia gegeven heeft. Maar ook gratis podcasts, getuigenissen van lezers over de hele wereld, interviews en verhalen over hoe het boek de levens van mensen heeft aangeraakt.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead

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bardo preparations 

Joseph Kerrick’s Research

The Tibetan Book of the Dead is ostensibly a book describing the experiences to be expected at the moment of death, during an intermediate phase lasting forty-nine days, and during rebirth into another bodily frame. This however is merely the esoteric framework which the Tibetan Buddhists used to cloak their mystical teachings. The language and symbolism of death rituals of Bonism, the traditional pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion, were skillfully blended with Buddhist conceptions. The esoteric meaning is that it is death and rebirth of the ego that is described, not of the body. Tibetan lama Govinda indicates this clearly in his introduction when he writes: “It is a book for the living as well as for the dying.” The book’s esoteric meaning is often concealed beneath many layers of symbolism. It was not intended for general reading. It was designed to be understood only by one who was to be initiated personally by a guru into the Buddhist mystical doctrines, into the pre-mortem-death-rebirth experience. These doctrines have been kept a closely guarded secret for many centuries, for fear that naive or careless application would do harm. In publishing this practical interpretation, we are in a sense breaking with the tradition of secrecy and thus contravening the teachings of the lama-gurus.

“Be not fond of the dull, smoke-colored light from hell.” – Tibetan Book of the Dead

The first bardo

The first bardo comes at the very moment of death, when there dawns the Clear Light of the Ultimate Reality. This is the very content and substance of the state of liberation, if only the soul can recognize it and act in a way to remain in that state. The instructions intended to be read at the moment of the person’s death are designed to help him do this. He is told, first of all, to embrace this supreme experience not in a selfish and egoistic way but rather with love and compassion for all sentient beings. This will aid him in the second step, which is to realize that his own mind and self is identical with the Clear Light, implying that he himself IS the Ultimate Reality, “the All-good Buddha”, transcending time, eternity, and all creation. If he can recognize this while in this supreme state at the moment of death, he will attain liberation – that is, he will remain in the Clear Light forever. This condition is called the “Dharmakaya”, the highest spiritual body of the Buddha.

Most souls, however, will fail to do this. They will be pulled down by the weight of their karma into the second stage of the first bardo, called the Secondary Clear Light seen immediately after death. At this point, there are separate instructions to be read according to the spiritual condition of the person while in life. For an individual advanced in meditation and other spiritual practices, there is repeated over and over the same instructions as at the moment of death, enjoining him to recognize himself as the Dharmakaya. For a person who was still at a student-level on the spiritual path, there is the injunction for him to meditate on his “tutelary deity”, that is, the particular god for whom he performed devotional practices while alive. Finally, “if the deceased be of the common folk”, unpracticed in any spiritual disciplines, the instruction is to “meditate upon the Great Compassionate Lord”, which is to say an “Avatar” worshipped by the multitude, equivalent to Jesus as conceived by the average Christian.

The second bardo

If the soul is still not liberated at this stage, it will descend into the second bardo, which is said to last for two weeks. The second bardo is also divided into two parts; in the first, the soul of the deceased encounters what are referred to as “the Peaceful Deities.” On each of the seven days, a particular Buddha-being will appear in radiance and glory, with a bevy of angelic attendants. At the same time, on each day in turn there will shine a light from one of the six worlds of the Buddhist universe, called “Lokas” (the basic meaning is “place”; our English words “location” and “locale” are derived from the same Sanskrit root).

On the first day of the second bardo, there appears to the soul the Divine Father-Mother – that is, the supreme deity of the universe, transcending all dualities, including the division into sexes. The next step in the destiny of the soul is determined by his reaction to this God. If his life on Earth was well lived, he will now be in a state of purity and grace, and he will enter into the joy of the God and attain liberation. If on the other hand he has lived an ignoble and impious life, the effects of his bad karma will cause the intense radiant presence of the God to strike fear and terror in his heart, and he will be drawn instead to the softer light of the Deva-Loka, which has dawned along with this deity. This is still a fairly attractive fate, for the Devas are the Gods (or angels), and their Loka is equivalent to the Christian Heaven; however, the Buddhist teaching is that even Heaven is not the highest spiritual objective, because it is still only a temporary state in the manifest universe. Liberation is believed to be the only final and permanent resting-place for the soul, an unmanifest state beyond all existence.

On the second day, there appears the second-highest God in the Buddhist pantheon – in fact, he is actually the Second Person in the literal Buddhist Holy Trinity. At the same time, there dawns a smoky light from Hell; and here we note that, just as the Buddhist Heaven is not a permanent, eternal state, neither is its Hell. Even the most wretched souls will eventually work their way out of even the deepest pit of Hell, just as even the highest and purest souls will eventually lose their footing in Heaven and descend again into the cycle of death and rebirth. Liberation is the only way out.

Once again, if the soul responds to the “dazzling white light” of the second God with the joy of a pure heart, he will be liberated thereby; but if he specifically reacts with ANGER from having indulged in this vice on earth, he will recoil from the light in fear and be drawn into Hell.

The pattern is repeated on the third day; this time it is the fault of egotism that will cause the soul to react to the God with fear, and he will be drawn to the human world, where his next incarnation will thereby take place. On the fourth day dawns the God of Eternal Life; if the soul has a negative reaction to him because of miserliness and attachment, he will be drawn toward rebirth in the Preta-Loka, a world of “hungry ghosts” who have huge stomachs and throats the size of pinholes, and so they wander about in a constant state of unsatisfied ravenous desire. On the fifth day comes God in the form of an Almighty Conqueror; this time it’s jealousy that will unseat the soul, and he will be born into the Asura-Loka, a world of fierce warrior-deities (or demons). On the sixth day all the deities return and dawn together, along with the lights from all six Lokas. On the seventh day there appear the Knowledge-Holding Deities, who are more fierce and demonic-looking than those that have previously dawned; and in fact they are sort of a transitional element to the next stage of the second bardo, where the soul encounters the wrathful deities. Meanwhile, if because of stupidity the soul cannot face the Knowledge-Holding Deities, he is drawn toward the Brute-Loka – that is, he will be reborn on earth as an animal.

In the second week of the second bardo, the soul meets seven legions of Wrathful Deities: hideous, terrifying demons who advance upon him with flame and sword, drinking blood from human skulls, threatening to wreak unmerciful torture upon him, to maim, disembowel, decapitate and slay him. The natural tendency, of course, is for the soul to attempt to flee from these beings in stark, screaming, blood-curdled terror; but if he does, all is lost. The instructions at this stage of the Bardo are for the soul to have no fear, but rather to recognize that the Wrathful Deities are really the Peaceful Deities in disguise, their dark side manifesting as a result of his own evil karma. The soul is told to calmly face each demon in turn and visualize it as the deity it truly is, or else as his own tutelary deity; if he can do this, he will merge with the being and attain the second degree of Liberation, that lesser aspect of it which is now the best he can hope for here in the second bardo. Furthermore, he is told to awaken to the fact that all these fearsome creatures are not real, but are merely illusions emanating from his own mind. If he can recognize this, they will vanish and he will be liberated. If he can’t, he eventually wanders down to the third bardo.

The third bardo

In the third bardo the soul encounters the Lord of Death, a fearsome demonic deity who appears in smoke and fire, and subjects the soul to a Judgment. If the dead person protests that he has done no evil, the Lord of Death holds up before him the Mirror of Karma, “wherein every good and evil act is vividly reflected.” Now demons approach and begin to inflict torments and punishments upon the soul for his evil deeds. The instructions in the “Bardo Thodol” are for him to attempt to recognize the Voidness of all these beings, including the Lord of Death himself; the dead person is told that this entire scene unfolding around him is a projection from his own mind. Even here he can attain liberation by recognizing this.

The soul who is still not liberated after the Judgment will now be drawn remorselessly toward rebirth. The lights of the six Lokas will dawn again; into one of these worlds the soul must be born, and the light of the one he is destined for will shine more brightly than the others.

The soul is still experiencing the frightening apparitions and sufferings of the third bardo, and he feels that he will do anything to escape from this condition. He will seek shelter in what appear to be caves or hiding-places, but which are actually the entrances to wombs. He is warned of this by the text of the “Bardo Thodol”, and urged not to enter them, but to meditate upon the Clear Light instead; for it is still possible for him to achieve the third degree of liberation and avoid rebirth.

Finally there comes a point where it is no longer possible to attain liberation, and after this the soul is given instructions on how to choose the best womb for a favorable incarnation. The basic method is non-attachment: to try to rise above both attraction to worldly pleasures and repulsion from worldly ills.

The final words of the “Bardo Thodol” are: “Let virtue and goodness be perfected in every way.”

Een kwestie van bardo

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Iedereen die leeft , verblijft in het bardo van het leven.

De tussenstaat van het leven.

Als je goed kijkt naar je leven kun je cycli van bardo’s zien.

Iedere zeven jaar of zo, kom je in een periode van onzekerheid en verandering.

De cirkel van je leven sluit niet meer , maar lijkt een spiraal te worden naar een onbekende richting.

Onderzoek wanneer dat is.

En als je dan midden in de onzekerheid zit, mediteer dan op de mogelijkheden die kunnen komen.

Doe dat in groot mededogen voor de mensen om je heen.

Je zult dan ook meer meedogend zijn voor jezelf.

Dit is versterkend voor je motivatie.

De tussenstaat is ook een periode van creativiteit , van wording.

Wees niet bevreesd want alles zal goed komen.

Ga naar anderen en help hen over hun onzekerheden heen te komen.

Concentreer jezelf bij alles wat je doet.

Op het moment van er helemaal zijn voor de ander is je ego leeg , zijn je problemen afwezig.

In een fractie van tijd kun je je weer bevinden in een nieuw bardo binnen dit bardo van het leven.

Lach om je bestaan.

Het is leeg aan inherent bestaan.

Alle hechting is lijden.

Daarom is dit leven de oefenplaats voor het leven hierna.

Jampa Gyatso

Explanation of the Medicine Buddha Mantra

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1. OM:  we begin with Om, the under-current tone of the universe

2. NAMO:  means yielding or full of trust; can also mean to bend or bow, and might mean to melt into

3. Bhagawate: means in intimate relation to the Divine and often means the entire cosmos

4. Bhaishjaye:  a name for the Medicine Buddha

5. Guru: Spiritual Master; also means the “that” which transmutes ignorance into wisdom

6. Vaidurya prabha:  Divine deep blue light, like that of Lapis Lazuli

7. Rajaya:  means Great King

8. Tathagataya:  means once came or once gone

9. Arhate:  one who has conquered the cycle of birth death

10. Samyaksam buddhaya:  perfectly enlightened

11. Teyatha:  do it like this

12. OM:  again we begin with Om, the under-current tone of the universe

13. Bekhajye bekhajye:  do away with the pain of illness

14. Maha bekhajye: do away with the pain of illness (of the darkness of Spiritual Ignorance)

15. Bekhajye:  do away with the pain of illness

16. Samudgate:  means the supreme heights. Like this, go go go

  (my prayer shall go to the highest and the widest and the deepest)

17. Svaha:  I offer this prayer and now relinquish it …  (to you Medicine Buddha)

Explanation of the meaning of the Mantra

TAYATA / OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE / MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA / SAMUDGATE SOHA

Bekandze means eliminating pain, maha bekandze means great eliminating of pain. One explanation of the meaning of the first bekandze is that it refers to eliminating the pain of true suffering, not just of disease but of all problems. It eliminates the pain of death and rebirth that are caused by karma and disturbing thoughts. The first bekandze eliminates all the problems of body and mind, including old age and sickness.

The second bekandze eliminates all the true cause of suffering, which is not external but within the mind. This refers to karma and disturbing thoughts. It is the inner cause that enables external factors such as food and exposure to sunlight to become conditions for disease.

Scientists claim that intense exposure to the sun causes skin cancer. However, without the cause in the mind, there is nothing to make external factors become conditions for disease. Exposure to sunlight is a condition for skin cancer, but it is not the main cause. For those who have created the cause to get skin cancer, the external phenomenon of sunlight can become a condition for skin cancer.

For example, not everyone who sunbathes on the beach gets skin cancer. Also human beings have been exposing themselves to the sun for many thousands of years, but skin cancer is a comparatively recent phenomenon. The important question is: Why doesn’t everyone who is exposed to the sun get skin cancer? The proof that sunlight is not the main cause of skin cancer is that not everyone who is exposed to the sun gets skin cancer.

If someone has created the cause, as long as they do not do anything to purify it, the cause will definitely bring its own result; just as a seed that is planted will definitely result in a sprout as long as it is not eaten by birds, and so forth. Once there is a cause, as long as there is no obstacle to the cause, it is natural to experience its result.

So, the second bekandze refers to eliminating the cause of problems, karma motivated by disturbing thoughts.

The third phrase, maha bekandze, or “great eliminating,” refers to eliminating even the subtle imprints left on the consciousness by disturbing thoughts.

The Medicine Buddha mantra actually contains the remedy of the whole graduated path to enlightenment. The first bekandze contains the graduated path of the lower capable being in general; the second bekandze, the graduated path of the middle capable being in general; and maha bekandze, the graduated path of the higher capable being. The whole graduated path from the beginning up to the peerless happiness of full enlightenment is contained in the Medicine Buddha Mantra.

Reciting the mantra leaves imprints on our mind, so that we are also able to actualize the path contained in the mantra. It establishes the blessing of the whole path within our heart; we can then generate the whole graduated path to enlightenment, which is signified by bekandze bekandze maha bekandze.

 The OM is composed of three sounds, ah, o, and ma, which signify the Medicine Buddha’s completely pure holy body, holy speech, and holy mind. Actualizing the whole path to enlightenment purifies our impure body, speech, and mind and transforms them into the Medicine Buddha’s pure holy body, holy speech, and holy mind. We then become a perfect guide for living beings.

 With our omniscient mind we are able to effortlessly, directly, see, without mistake, the level of mind of every living being and all the methods that fit them in order to bring them from happiness to happiness, to the peerless happiness of full enlightenment.

We also have the perfect power to manifest in various forms to suit every living being and reveal the necessary methods to guide them, such as giving material help, education, or Dharma teachings. Whenever the positive imprint left by their past positive actions ripens, without delay of even a second, we can reveal various means to guide the living being to enlightenment.

 

 

Moeder

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Moeder nu je aan het eind van je tocht gekomen bent
Hoop ik dat je de kust van de oceaan in zicht krijgt
Moge de verschijningen van de tussenstaat je niet verwarren
Moge je uiteindelijk het heldere licht van je eigen geest realiseren
Moge je je ware natuur realiseren
Wij die nog tussen leven en dood zijn
Kijken met dankbaarheid en liefde naar jou
En geven je onze goede wensen mee
Ga in de kennis dat alles een begoocheling is van je eigen geest
In wijsheid en mededogen

Droomyoga

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Lig, wanneer de droomstaat daagt, niet als een lijk in onwetendheid terneer.
Betreedt de natuurlijke sfeer van de onwankelbare aandacht.
Herken je dromen en zet illusie om in lichtgevendheid.

Dzogchen

Beoefening van droomyoga vindt plaats in sommige tradities binnen het Tibetaans boeddhisme of Vajrayana boeddhisme. In de visie die ten grondslag ligt aan droomyoga, wordt een parallel getrokken tussen het proces van slapen en dromen enerzijds en de verschillende stadia van het stervensproces anderzijds.
Volgens het Tibetaans dodenboek (of Bardo Thodrol) lossen tijdens het stervensproces de vijf elementen waaruit het lichaam is samengesteld zich in elkaar op. Wanneer het laatste element, ruimte, zich heeft opgelost, gaat ons gebruikelijke bewustzijn dat gekoppeld is aan het materiele lichaam, op in wat wordt genoemd het ‘heldere licht’. Dit heldere licht wordt door de Dalai Lama omschreven als een niet-conceptuele staat van zijn, waarin er geen sprake meer is van een ervaren van het zelf. Voor mensen die geen of weinig meditatie beoefening hebben gedaan, duurt de staat van het heldere licht niet langer dan een ‘klik met de vingers’. Voor ervaren mediteerders kan het zo lang duren als ‘het eten van een maaltijd’. Deze fase in het stervensproces wordt vergeleken met het eerste slaapstadium direct na het inslapen.
En net zoals dit heldere licht slechts met grote moeite door de stervende kan worden herkend, is ook de slaper zich vrijwel nooit bewust van deze staat. Het Tibetaans dodenboek over sterven In het volgende stadium van het stervensproces doen zich, zo stelt het Tibetaans dodenboek visioenachtige beelden voor van verschillende boeddhavormen. Dit kan gepaard gaan met waarneming van zeer intensieve kleuren. Dit stadium wordt vergeleken met de droomstaat. En ook in deze fase geldt weer dat het voor de meeste mensen moeilijk is om het als zodanig te herkennen, om te weten dat ze dromen en dat de droombeelden voortkomen uit hun eigen geest.
Maar wanneer we in staat zijn om tijdens onze dromen droombeelden te herkennen als projecties van onze eigen geest is de kans groter dat we dat ook kunnen gedurende de periode die op ons sterven volgt. Deze helderheid van geest tijdens het dromen, wordt tegenwoordig in Europa en de Verenigde Staten lucide dromen genoemd. Binnen het Vajrayana boeddhisme zijn er beoefeningen die vertrouwd maken met de verschillende fasen van het stervensproces. Daarnaast kan er droomyoga worden beoefend. Juist tijdens het dromen is het mogelijk om de subtiele energie-geest te oefenen. Droomyoga is een uitstekende methode om vaste conditioneringen te doorbreken.
De concrete beoefening van droomyoga vindt plaats voor het slapengaan. Binnen de verschillende tradities van het Tibetaans boeddhisme zijn er verschillende meditatie-oefeningen om de heldere droomstaat op te wekken. De beoefeningen bestaan vaak uit visualisatie, soms in combinatie met ademhalingsoefeningen. Tijdens de droom kan iemand helpen door de dromer in het oor te fluisteren ‘Je bent nu aan het dromen’. Ook overdag kan droomyoga worden beoefend. De beoefenaar traint zich dan om alle verschijnselen als een droom te zien. Wanneer hij dat consequent doet, is de kans groter dat zijn dromen zich als minder substantieel voordoen.

DE ZES TUSSENSTATEN (BARDO’S)

Standaard

DE GROTE BEVRIJDING DOOR HOREN IN DE BARDO (tussenstaat)

1.De natuurlijke bardo van dit leven Kye Ne-bardo (Waak bewustzijn)

2.De bardo van slapen en dromen Milam-bardo (Droom bewustzijn)

3.De bardo van meditatie Samten-bardo (Meditatie bewustzijn)

4.De pijnlijke bardo van het sterven Chikai-bardo ( begin stervensproces tot het ophouden van de innerlijke ademhaling .Het hoogtepunt in het verschijnen van de natuur van de geest op het moment van de dood ofwel de grond-luminescentie )

De vijf elementen lossen op in elkaar :
Aarde lost op in water
Water lost op in vuur
Vuur lost op in wind
Wind lost op in ruimte
Ieder element heeft een corresponderende vrouwelijke boeddha als verlicht aspect

5.De schitterende bardo van dharmata Chonyi-bardo ( straling van de natuur van de geest na de dood. Luminescentie die zich openbaart als geluid , kleur en licht.)
Het onmiddellijk herkennen van de straling van de natuur van de geest (dharmakaya) leidt tot onmiddellijke bevrijding.
Indien niet bereikt zal het tweede heldere licht herkend moeten worden en moet de gestorvene als het een ervarene is in gevorderde methoden van meditatie deze toepassen en zichzelf herkennen als het Dharmakaya.Een minder bedreven gestorvene zal moeten mediteren op zijn Yidam (persoonlijke boeddhavorm). De ongeoefenden moeten mediteren op de ” Grote Meedogende Heer ” bv. Chenrezig ( Avalokiteshvara).Als dit niet gaat valt de ziel in een onbewuste staat van vier en een halve dag waarna
de Vijf vreedzame Boeddha ’s verschijnen en de mogelijkheid geven tot bevrijding door herkenning. (De 1e tm de 7e dag)
De Vijf Toornige Boeddha ’s ( HeRuKa) verschijnen in de 8e tm de 12e dag.

6.De karmische bardo van wording Sipai-bardo ( tussenstaat tot het moment waarop een nieuwe geboorte wordt aangegaan.) 13e tot 49e dag.
Als het niet mogelijk gebleken is bevrijd te worden door de Vijf Wijsheden van de Vreedzame – en Toornige Boeddha ’s lijkt een nieuwe wedergeboorte onvermijdelijk. De Heer des Doods verschijnt als rechter.De ziel moet het voorbije leven loslaten en de zes zachte lichten die hem lokken ontwijken want zij leiden hem onvermijdelijk in een wedergeboorte in een van de zes loka.Hij zal de ingang van de baarmoeder moeten blokkeren en zich concentreren op een vertrouwde boeddhavorm om wedergeboorte te voorkomen.
Als dit niet lukt is het kiezen van een goede wedergeboorte in een van de 6 loka ( god ,halfgod ,mens , dier , hongerige geest , hellewezen ) van groot belang.
De Natuurlijke Bardo van dit Leven begint weer opnieuw.

DE STERVENSERVARING

Standaard

Als we gaan sterven gaan we door een aantal visioenen en gewaarwordingen heen die  ,indien van te voren gekend , een grote troost en geruststelling voor de stervende mens kunnen betekenen.

Er zijn acht stadia van ontbinding . Je vindt ze terug in het “Bardol Thödol  “, het Tibetaanse Dodenboek.

Ook Sogyal Rinpoche bespreekt ze in zijn onovertroffen “ Tibetaanse Boek van Leven en Sterven “ .

Lama Tenzin  (Robert Thurman ) geeft onderstaande uitleg in de “Heilige Berg”.

Of je nu vredig thuis sterft  of ten gevolge van een plotseling auto-ongeluk of een vliegtuigongeluk, of

Door een val van grote hoogte , je kunt wanneer je dood gaat dezelfde ervaringen verwachten.

+ Allereerst zul je een gezoem om je heen horen ; sommigen noemen het een gerinkel  in hun

   oren. Je begint hallucinaties te krijgen . Je komt in een droomachtige toestand waarin de dingen

   van het leven om je heen zweven .Laat ze voorbijgaan . Daarna zul je een rookgordijn zien.

   Laat het voorbijgaan.

+ Daarna zul je vonken, vuurvliegjes en vuurwerk zien . Wees hier niet bang voor .Ontspan.

   Laat die dingen voorbijgaan.

+ Daarna zul je een heldere kaarsvlam zien . Probeer daar stil bij te blijven en laat hem dan

   voorbijgaan.

+ Daarna zul je de openlucht zien die vol stralend maanlicht  is .

+ Daarna is de lucht vol stralend zonlicht.

+ Daarna is de lucht vol duisternis, waar je niet bang voor hoeft te zijn.

+ Duisternis op het middaguur ,zogezegd. Een soort zonsverduistering.

+ De achtste en laatste fase van de doodservaring is het heldere licht , pure doorzichtigheid ,

   als de openlucht die vervuld is van de grijsachtige schemering voor het ochtendgloren, waarin

   het licht zowel vanuit de voorwerpen lijkt te komen als erdoor weerkaatst lijkt te worden.

Blijf waakzaam ,ook als je tijdens het moment van de duisternis in slaap valt, zodat je klaar bent

voor  dit heldere licht.

Want als je je er op concentreert , besef je dat je zelf helder licht bent , dat jij dit licht bent dat één wordt met de oneindige boeddha-geest , Shiva-geest, Goddelijkheid ,Driëeenheid, Grote Moeder.

Geleid door dat besef en die doorzichtigeheid  zul je je niet gedwongen voelen onmiddellijk opnieuw geboren te worden, je zult niet zo gemakkelijk door deze of gene vorm aangetrokken worden en je zult meer keus hebben waar je heen gaat , hoe je je beweegt en tot welke voorstellingswereld je je aangetrokken voelt , waardoor bepaald wordt in wiens schoot je reïncarneert.

Door de mantra van Avalokiteshvara  OM MANI PADME HUM  word je beschermd.

Door de mantra roep je de bodhisattva van het mededogen aan , maar in de diepere betekenis is Avalokiteshvara  het kosmische visioen van de vereniging van man en vrouw.

OM MANI PADME HUM  zegt dat alles volmaakt is in elk atoom en op elk moment , dat mededogen en wijsheid overal aanwezig zijn , dat liefde overal aanwezig is.

Gelukzaligheid  komt voort uit alles en komt overal vandaan.  Er is niets te vrezen.

Ook al ervaar ik mijn omgeving als een hel. Als ik mijn omgeving accepteer ,zal die in een rozentuin veranderen.

OM MANI PADME HUM is dus het beschermende visioen van het mededogen van Avalokiteshvara dat zich overal om ons heen bevindt.

Het is alsof de duizenden handen van Avalokiteshvara ons opbeuren in momenten van dood en wedergeboorte . OM is de wereld der goden , MA is de wereld der reuzen (halfgoden), NI is de wereld der geesten , PAD is de hellewereld, ME is de dierenwereld , HUM de mensenwereld.

Elke lettergreep gaat naar een andere wereld in het universum.

Wanneer je deze mantra opzegt , verenig je je met de kloppende hartenergie van Avalokiteshvara, die voortdurend emanaties uitzendt naar andere delen van het universum.

Dit wordt prachtig verwoord in de Diamand Sutra , waarin Avalokiteshvara in zijn veelarmige gedaante naar de hel reist en de tranen uit zijn ogen in de handpalmen van zijn  duizend handen

Opvangt om deze tranen over de roodgloeiende bodem van de hel te laten vloeien. Het koelt af en daarna schept Avalokiteshvara een energiestraal , een laserstraal die alle ziele uit de hel zuigt en ze naar verschillende boeddhalanden brengt ,zodat de helwezens enkele levens lang verlost zijn van hun kwellingen. Dit is het grote mededogen van Avalokesteshvara   Chenrezig.

DEATH AND DYING IN THE TIBETAN BUDDHIST TRADITION

Standaard

Compiled by:

Ven. Pende Hawter
The Karuna Hospice Service
P.O. Box 2020
Windsor 4030
Queensland, Australia
Contemplation and meditation on death and impermanence are
regarded as very important in Buddhism for two reasons : (1) it is
only by recognising how precious and how short life is that we are most
likely to make it meaningful and to live it fully and (2) by
understanding the death process and familiarizing ourself with it, we
can remove fear at the time of death and ensure a good rebirth.
Because the way in which we live our lives and our state of
mind at death directly influence our future lives, it is said that the
aim or mark of a spiritual practitioner is to have no fear or regrets
at the time of death. People who practice to the best of their
abilities will die, it is said, in a state of great bliss. The mediocre
practitioner will die happily. Even the initial practitioner will have
neither fear nor dread at the time of death. So one should aim at
achieving at least the smallest of these results.
There are two common meditations on death in the Tibetan
tradition. The first looks at the certainty and imminence of death
and what will be of benefit at the time of death, in order to motivate
us to make the best use of our lives. The second is a simulation or
rehearsal of the actual death process, which familiarizes us with death
and takes away the fear of the unknown, thus allowing us to die
skilfully. Traditionally, in Buddhist countries, one is also encouraged
to go to a cemetery or burial ground to contemplate on death and
become familiar with this inevitable event.

The first of these meditations is known as the nine-round death
meditation, in which we contemplate the 3 roots, the 9 reasonings, and
the 3 convictions, as described below:

A DEATH IS CERTAIN

1. There is no possible way to escape death.
No-one ever has, not even Jesus, Buddha, etc. Of the
current
world population of over 5 billion people, almost none
will be
alive in 100 years time.

2. Life has a definite, inflexible limit and each moment
brings us
closer to the finality of this life.
We are dying from the moment we are born.

3. Death comes in a moment and its time is unexpected.
All that separates us from the next life is one breath.

Conviction: To practise the spiritual path and ripen our inner
potential by
cultivating positive mental qualities and abandoning disturbing mental
qualities.
B THE TIME OF DEATH IS UNCERTAIN

4. The duration of our lifespan is uncertain.
The young can die before the old, the healthy before
the sick,
etc.
5. There are many causes and circumstances that lead to
death, but
few that favour the sustenance of life.
Even things that sustain life can kill us, for example
food, motor
vehicles, property.

6. The weakness and fragility of one’s physical body
contribute to life’s uncertainty.
The body can be easily destroyed by disease or
accident, for
example cancer, AIDS, vehicle accidents, other
disasters.

Conviction: To ripen our inner potential now, without delay.
C THE ONLY THING THAT CAN HELP US AT THE TIME OF DEATH IS
OUR MENTAL/SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT (because all that goes on to
the next life is our mind with its karmic (positive or
negative) imprints.)

7. Worldly possessions such as wealth, position, money
can’t help.

8. Relatives and friends can neither prevent death nor go
with us.

9. Even our own precious body is of no help to us.
We have to leave it behind like a shell, an empty husk,
an
overcoat.

Conviction: To ripen our inner potential purely, without staining our
efforts with attachment to worldly concerns.
The second meditation simulates or rehearses the actual death
process. Knowledge of this process is particularly important because
advanced practitioners can engage in a series of yogas that are
modelled on death, intermediate state (Tibetan: bar-do) and rebirth
until they gain such control over them that they are no longer subject
to ordinary uncontrolled death and rebirth.

It is therefore essential for the practitioner to know the
stages of death and the mind-body relationship behind them. The
description of this is based on a presentation of the winds, or
currents of energy, that serve as foundations for various levels of
consciousness, and the channels in which they flow. Upon the serial
collapse of the ability of these winds to serve as bases of
consciousness, the internal and external events of death unfold.
Through the power of meditation, the yogi makes the coarse winds
dissolve into the very subtle life-bearing wind at the heart. This yoga
mirrors the process that occurs at death and involves concentration on
the psychic channels and the channel-centres (chakras) inside the body.

At the channel-centres there are white and red drops, upon
which physical and mental health are based. The white is predominant
at the top of the head and the red at the solar plexus. These drops
have their origin in a white and red drop at the heart centre, and
this drop is the size of a small pea and has a white top and red
bottom. It is called the indestructible drop, since it lasts until
death. The very subtle life-bearing wind dwells inside it and, at
death, all winds ultimately dissolve into it, whereupon the clear
light vision of death dawns.

The physiology of death revolves around changes in the winds,
channels and drops. Psychologically, due to the fact that
consciousnesses of varying grossness and subtlety depend on the winds,
like a rider on a horse, their dissolving or loss of ability to serve
as bases of consciousness induces radical changes in conscious
experience.

Death begins with the sequential dissolution of the winds
associated with the four elements (earth, water, fire and air).
“Earth” refers to the hard factors of the body such as bone, and the
dissolution of the wind associated with it means that that wind is no
longer capable of serving as a mount or basis for consciousness. As a
consequence of its dissolution, the capacity of the wind associated
with “water” (the fluid factors of the body) to act as a mount for
consciousness becomes more manifest. The ceasing of this capacity in
one element and its greater manifestation in another is called
“dissolution” – it is not, therefore, a case of gross earth dissolving
into water.

Simultaneously with the dissolution of the earth element, four
other factors dissolve (see Chart 1), accompanied by external signs
(generally visible to others) and an internal sign (the inner
experience of the dying person). The same is repeated in serial order
for the other three elements (see Charts 2-4), with corresponding
external and internal signs.
CHART 1: FIRST CYCLE OF SIMULTANEOUS DISSOLUTION

Factor dissolving External sign
Internal sign

earth element body becomes very thin,
limbs loose; sense that
body is sinking under
the earth

aggregate of forms limbs become smaller,
body becomes weak
and powerless

basic mirror-like sight becomes unclear
appearance of
wisdom (our ordinary and dark mirages
consciousness that
clearly perceives many
objects simultaneously)

eye sense one cannot open or close
eyes

colours and shapes lustre of body diminishes;
one’s strength is consumed

CHART 2: SECOND CYCLE OF SIMULTANEOUS DISSOLUTION

Factor dissolving External sign
Internal sign

water element saliva, sweat, urine,
blood and regenerative
fluid dry greatly

aggregate of feelings body consciousness can
(pleasure, pain and no longer experience the
neutrality) three types of feelings
that accompany sense
consciousnesses

basic wisdom of equality one is no longer mindful
appearance of smoke
(our ordinary conscious- of the feelings accom-
ness mindful of pleasure, panying the mental
pain and neutral feelings consciousness
as feelings)

ear sense one no longer hears
external or internal
sounds

sounds ‘ur’ sound in ears no
longer arises
CHART 3: THIRD CYCLE OF SIMULTANEOUS DISSOLUTION

Factor dissolving External sign
Internal sign

fire element one cannot digest food or
drink

aggregate of discrimi- one is no longer mindful
nations of affairs of close
persons

basic wisdom of analysis one can no longer
(our ordinary conscious- remember the names
appearance of fireflies
ness mindful of the of close persons
or sparks within smoke
individual names, pur-
poses and so forth of
close persons)

nose sense inhalation weak, exhala-
tion strong and lengthy

odours one cannot smell
CHART 4: FOURTH CYCLE OF SIMULTANEOUS DISSOLUTION

Factor dissolving External sign
Internal sign

wind element the ten winds move to
heart; inhalation and
exhalation ceases

aggregate of composi- one cannot perform
tional factors physical actions

basic wisdom of achiev- one is no longer mindful
ing activities (our of external worldly
ordinary consciousness activities, purposes and
mindful of external so forth
appearance of a
activities, purposes
sputtering butter-lamp
and so forth) about to go out

tongue sense tongue becomes thick and
short; root of tongue
becomes blue

tastes one cannot experience
tastes

body sense and tangible one cannot experience
objects smoothness or roughness
CHART 5: FIFTH TO EIGHTH CYCLES OF DISSOLUTION

Factor dissolving Cause of appearance
Internal sign

FIFTH CYCLE

eighty conceptions winds in right and left
at first, burning
channels above heart
butter-lamp; then,
enter central channel at
clear vacuity filled
top of head
with white light

SIXTH CYCLE

mind of white winds in right and left
very clear vacuity
appearance channels below heart
filled with red light
enter central channel at
base of spine
SEVENTH CYCLE

mind of red increase upper and lower winds at
first, vacuity filled
gather at heart; then
with thick darkness;
winds enter drop at
then, as if swooning
heart
unconsciously
EIGHTH CYCLE

mind of black near- all winds dissolve into
very clear vacuity free
attainment the very subtle life-
of the white, red and
bearing wind in the
black appearances –
indestructible drop at
the mind of clear
the heart
light of death

(The above charts are taken from “Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth
in Tibetan Buddhism” by Lati Rinbochay and Jeffrey Hopkins)

Upon the inception of the fifth cycle the mind begins to
dissolve, in the sense that coarser types cease and subtler minds
become manifest. First, conceptuality ceases, dissolving into a mind of
white appearance. This subtler mind, to which only a vacuity filled by
white light appears, is free from coarse conceptuality. It, in turn,
dissolves into a heightened mind of red appearance, which then
dissolves into a mind of black appearance. At this point all that
appears is a vacuity filled by blackness, during which the person
eventually becomes unconscious. In time this is cleared away, leaving a
totally clear emptiness (the mind of clear light) free from the white,
red and black appearances (see Chart 5). This is the final vision of
death.

This description of the various internal visions correlates
closely with the literature on the near-death experience. People who
have had a near-death experience often describe moving from darkness
(for example a black tunnel) towards a brilliant, peaceful, loving
light. A comprehensive study comparing death and near-death experiences
of Tibetans and Euro-Americans has shown many similarities between the
two (Carr, 1993). Care must be taken though in such comparisons because
the near-death experience is not actual death, that is, the
consciousness permanently leaving the body.

Since the outer breath ceased some time before (in the fourth
cycle), from this point of view the point of actual death is related
not to the cessation of the outer breath but to the appearance of the
mind of clear light. A person can remain in this state of lucid
vacuity for up to three days, after which (if the body has not been
ravaged by illness) the external sign of drops of red or white liquid
emerging from the nose and sexual organ occur, indicating the departure
of consciousness.

Other signs of the consciousness leaving the body are 1) when
all heat has left the area of the heart centre (in the centre of the
chest), 2) the body starts to smell or decompose, 3) a subtle awareness
that the consciousness has left and the body has become like ‘an empty
shell’, 4) a slumping of the body in a practitioner who has been
sitting in meditation after the stopping of the breath. Buddhists
generally prefer that the body not be removed for disposal before one
or more of these signs occur, because until then the consciousness is
still in the body and any violent handling of it may disturb the end
processes of death. A Buddhist monk or nun or friend should ideally be
called in before the body is moved in order for the appropriate prayers
and procedures to be carried out.

When the clear light vision ceases, the consciousness leaves
the body and passes through the other seven stages of dissolution
(black near-attainment, red increase etc.) in reverse order. As soon as
this reverse process begins the person is reborn into an intermediate
state between lives, with a subtle body that can go instantly wherever
it likes, move through solid objects etc., in its journey to the next
place of rebirth.

The intermediate state can last from a moment to seven days,
depending on whether or not a suitable birthplace is found. If one is
not found the being undergoes a “small death”, experiencing the eight
signs of death as previously described (but very briefly). He/she then
again experiences the eight signs of the reverse process and is reborn
in a second intermediate state. This can happen for a total of seven
births in the intermediate state (making a total of forty-nine days)
during which a place of rebirth must be found.

The “small death” that occurs between intermediate states or
just prior to taking rebirth is compared to experiencing the eight
signs (from the mirage-like vision to the clear light) when going into
deep sleep or when coming out of a dream. Similarly also, when
entering a dream or when awakening from sleep the eight signs of the
reverse process are experienced.

These states of increasing subtlety during death and of
increasing grossness during rebirth are also experienced in fainting
and orgasm as well as before and after sleeping and dreaming, although
not in complete form. It is this great subtlety and clarity of the
mind during the death process that makes it so valuable to use for
advanced meditation practices, and why such emphasis is put on it in
Buddhism. Advanced practitioners will often stay in the clear light
meditation for several days after the breathing has stopped, engaging
in these advanced meditations, and can achieve liberation at this time.

The Buddhist view is that each living being has a continuity or
stream of consciousness that moves from one life to the next. Each
being has had countless previous lives and will continue to be reborn
again and again without control unless he/she develops his/her mind to
the point where, like the yogis mentioned above, he/she gains control
over this process. When the stream of consciousness or mind moves from
one life to the next it brings with it the karmic imprints or
potentialities from previous lives. Karma literally means “action”,
and all of the actions of body, speech and mind leave an imprint on the
mind-stream. These karmas can be negative, positive or neutral,
depending on the action. They can ripen at any time in the future,
whenever conditions are suitable. These karmic seeds or imprints are
never lost.

At the time of death (clear light stage) the consciousness
(very subtle mind) leaves the body and the person takes the body of an
intermediate state being. They are in the form that they will take in
their next life (some texts say the previous life), but in a subtle
rather than a gross form. As mentioned previously, it can take up to
forty-nine days to find a suitable place of rebirth. This rebirth is
propelled by karma and is uncontrolled. In effect the karma of the
intermediate state being matches that of its future parents. The
intermediate state being has the illusory appearance of its future
parents copulating. It is drawn to this place by the force of
attraction to its parent of the opposite sex, and it is this desire
that causes the consciousness of the intermediate state being to enter
the fertilized ovum. This happens at or near the time of conception and
the new life has begun.

One will not necessarily be reborn as a human being. Buddhists
describe six realms of existence that one can be reborn into, these
being the hell realms, the preta (hungry ghost) realm, the animal
realm, the human realm, the jealous god (asura) realm and the god
(sura) realms. One’s experience in these situations can range from
intense suffering in the hell realms to unimaginable pleasures in the
god realms. But all of these levels of existence are regarded as
unsatisfactory by the spiritual practitioner because no matter how
high one goes within this cyclic existence, one may one day fall down
again to the lower realms of existence. So the aim of the spiritual
practitioner is to develop his/her mind to the extent where a stop is
put to this uncontrolled rebirth, as mentioned previously. The
practitioner realises that all six levels of existence are ultimately
in the nature of suffering, so wishes to be free of them forever.

The state of mind at the time of death is regarded as extremely
important, because this plays a vital part in the situation one is
reborn into. This is one reason why suicide is regarded in Buddhism as
very unfortunate, because the state of mind of the person who commits
suicide is usually depressed and negative and is likely to throw them
into a lower rebirth. Also, it doesn’t end the suffering, it just
postpones it to another life.

When considering the spiritual care of the dying, it can be
helpful to divide people into several different categories, because
the category they are in will determine the most useful approach to
use. These categories are: 1) whether the person is conscious or
unconscious, and 2) whether they have a religious belief or not. In
terms of the first category, if the person is conscious they can do
the practices themselves or someone can assist them, but if they are
unconscious someone has to do the practices for them. For the second
category, if a person has specific religious beliefs, these can be
utilised to help them. If they do not, they still need to be
encouraged to have positive/virtuous thoughts at the time of death,
such as reminding them of positive things they have done during their
life.

For a spiritual practitioner, it is helpful to encourage them
to have thoughts such as love, compassion, remembering their spiritual
teacher. It is beneficial also to have an image in the room of Jesus,
Mary, Buddha, or some other spiritual figure that may have meaning for
the dying person. It may be helpful for those who are with the dying
person to say some prayers, recite mantras etc. – this could be silent
or aloud, whatever seems most appropriate.

However, one needs to be very sensitive to the needs of the
dying person. The most important thing is to keep the mind of the
person happy and calm. Nothing should be done (including certain
spiritual practices) if this causes the person to be annoyed or
irritated. There is a common conception that it is good to read “The
Tibetan Book of the Dead” to the dying person, but if he/she is not
familiar with the particular deities and practices contained in it,
then this is not likely to prove very beneficial.

Because the death process is so important, it is best not to
disturb the dying person with noise or shows of emotion. Expressing
attachment and clinging to the dying person can disturb the mind and
therefore the death process, so it is more helpful to mentally let the
person go, to encourage them to move on to the next life without fear.
It is important not to deny death or to push it away, just to be with
the dying person as fully and openly as possible, trying to have an
open and deep sharing of the person’s fear, pain, joy, love, etc.

As mentioned previously, when a person is dying, their mind
becomes much more subtle, and they are more open to receiving mental
messages from those people close to them. So silent communication and
prayer can be very helpful. It is not necessary to talk much. The
dying person can be encouraged to let go into the light, into God’s
love etc. (again, this can be verbal or mental).

It can be very helpful to encourage the dying person to use
breathing meditation – to let go of the thoughts and concentrate on
the movement of the breath. This can be helpful for developing
calmness, for pain control, for acceptance, for removing fear. It can
help the dying person to get in touch with their inner stillness and
peace and come to terms with their death. This breathing technique can
be especially useful when combined with a mantra, prayer, or
affirmation (i.e. half on the in-breath, half on the out-breath).

One of the Tibetan lamas, Sogyal Rinpoche, says that for up to
about twenty-one days after a person dies they are more connected to
the previous life than to the next one. So for this period in
particular the loved ones can be encouraged to continue their (silent)
communication with the deceased person – to say their good-byes, finish
any unfinished business, reassure the dead person, encourage them to
let go of their old life and to move on to the next one. It can be
reassuring even just to talk to the dead person and at some level to
know that they are probably receiving your message. The mind of the
deceased person at this stage can still be subtle and receptive.

For the more adept practitioners there is also the method of
transference of consciousness at the time of death (Tibetan: po-wa).
With training, at the time of death, the practitioner can project his
mind upwards from his heart centre through his crown directly to one
of the Buddha pure realms, or at least to a higher rebirth. Someone who
has perfected this training can also assist others at the time of
death to project their mind to a good rebirth.

It is believed that if the consciousness leaves the body of the
dead person through the crown or from a higher part of the body, it is
likely to result in a good type of rebirth. Conversely, if the
consciousness leaves from a lower part of the body this is likely to
result in rebirth in one of the lower realms. For this reason, when a
person dies it is believed that the first part of the body that should
be touched is the crown. The crown is located about eight finger widths
(of the person being measured) back from the (original) hairline. To
rub or tap this area or gently pull the crown hair after a person dies
is regarded as very beneficial and may well help the person to obtain
a higher rebirth. Their are special blessed pills (po-wa pills) that
can be placed on the crown after death which also facilitates this
process.

Once the consciousness has left the body (which, as mentioned
earlier, can take up to three days) it doesn’t matter how the body is
disposed of or handled (including the carrying out of a post-mortem
examination) because in effect it has just become an empty shell.
However, if the body is disposed of before the consciousness has left,
this will obviously be very disturbing for the person who is going
through the final stages of psychological dissolution.

This raises the question of whether or not it is advisable to
donate one’s organs after dying. The usual answer given by the Tibetan
lamas to this question is that if the wish to donate one’s organs is
done with the motivation of compassion, then any disturbance to the
death process that this causes is far outweighed by the positive karma
that one is creating by this act of giving. It is another way in which
one can die with a positive and compassionate mind.

A Tibetan tradition which is becoming more popular in the West
is to get part of the remains of the deceased (e.g. ashes, hair,
nails) blessed and then put into statues, tsa-tsas (Buddha images made
of clay or plaster) or stupas (reliquary monuments representing the
Buddha’s body, speech and mind). These stupas for instance could be
kept in the person’s home, larger ones could be erected in a memorial
garden. Making offerings to these or circumambulating them and so on
is regarded as highly meritorious, both for the person who has died
and for the loved ones.

There are also rituals for caring for the dead, for guiding the
dead person through the intermediate state into a good rebirth. Such a
ritual is “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”, more correctly titled
“Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo”.
– revised January 1995

REFERENCES
Carr, Christopher Death and Near-Death: A Comparison of Tibetan and
Euro- American Experiences, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1993,
Vol 25, No 1 pp 59-110

Fremantle, Francesca and Chogyam Trungpa The Tibetan Book of the Dead:
The Great Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo, Shambhala, Boulder
and London, 1975
(or the excellent new translation by Robert A.F. Thurman,
Aquarian Press, London,1994)

Kapleau, Philip The Wheel of Life and Death, Doubleday, New York, 1989

Rinbochay, Lati and Jeffrey Hopkins Death, Intermediate State and
Rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism, Rider & Co, London, 1979

Levine, Stephen Healing Into Life and Death, Anchor Press/Doubleday,
New York, 1987

Levine, Stephen Who Dies, Anchor Press/Doubleday, New York, 1982

Mackenzie, Vicki Reincarnation: The Boy Lama, Bloomsbury, London, 1988

Mackenzie, Vicki Reborn in the West: The Reincarnation Masters,
Bloomsbury, London, 1995

Mullin, Glenn H. Death and Dying: The Tibetan Tradition, Arkana,
London, 1986

Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Rider, London,
1992