Posted by Sergio (126.96.36.199) on September 20, 2000 at 12:21:00:
In Reply to: Dying alone posted by Susan S on September 19, 2000 at 08:10:20:
Very dear Susan:
I’m sorry I didn’t answer your questions before.
The moment of death is very important for Buddhism. I’ll give you some practical advises because a class of Buddhist tanatology (the study of death) could be poor in advises and I am not qualified to talk about such sophisticated topic.
You should have your testament in order and updated. You should also tell all your relatives what you will give to each of them, that way they will not fight for your things in your death, which could depress you in the difficult moment of death.
If your death is very predictable, you should practice the Vajrasatva meditation of purification (Dorje Sempa) and the Amithaba Meditation (O pagme). These are practiced in the Powa retreat. The Vajrasatva meditation will purify your negative karma powerfully and the Amithaba Meditation will create mental tendencies (karma) to enter to Amithaba’s power field. Amithaba is the only Buddha who made the promise of opening his “world” to practitioners without realizations (like us). With “world” I mean his reality, because our mind creates our reality, and his mind is so powerful that he can make you stay in his reality. This is called a “pure land”, which is NOT something like a Christian Heaven. To enter to other Buddha’s pure lands you must clean completely your mind of one of the 3 poisons: aversion, attachment or ignorance. To succeed in that you must be a great practitioner. So the pure land of amithaba is very easy to access if you have the conditions, because you don’t need to destroy any of the 3 poisons.
In a pure land you stay in a Buddha’s world where developing your mind is much easier than here, so your evolution to become a Buddha is faster. Once you become a Buddha, you start working to do the same with other sentient beings. In a Buddha’s pure land, you NEVER return to any other kind of existence anymore because as soon as you “arrive” you lose the wrong view of self of ego, which is the cause of future reborn in all kinds of realms. You realize that you don’t have inherent existence, and since that moment you are trained and guided for all kinds of awaken beings which are in Amithaba’s pure land, as dakinis, yogis, youginis, etc. And of course, Amithaba. Because the idea of self or ego is not lost in the Christian Heavens, your stay in those heavens is impermanent and eventually you reborn in lower realms because you exhaust all the positive karma there (there is no way to create merit in Christian Heavens because all is perfect and there is no way to help anyone). And the Christian Heavens are of a mundane pleasure, which make attachment stronger, while the pure lands generates realizations and liberate people from the 3 possions, generating a great spiritual joy.
So the first thing one must do is to use the techniques used in the powa practice to enter to Amithaba’s pure land. With this techniques one will not pass through the painful Bardo of death and the person will directly reborn in Amithaba’s realty.
But most people are not familiarized with the Powa’s techniques. So, what to do?
When dying you will start experiencing several things. You will start losing the feeling of your hands and feet, and you will enter in a mental state like that in the dreams. You will feel tired and gradually you will lose your consciousness. But later you will recover it, and you will see a light. You will feel that you are entering like in a tunnel, each time closer to a light much powerful than the Sun, but it will not harm your eyes. This is because mind is concentrating in your chest and it is starting to leave your body. When mind is condensed in your chest, you experience this and the light is known as “clear light of mind”. This is you own nature, your Buddha nature, that which you really are. But we are so familiarized with our bodies, that to imagine ourselves as a light is very difficult. This is an experience of an incredible joy, an experience that all Buddhas have permanently. This mind is so powerful that behaviors as space: it can see everything clearly and understand everything. It is aware of all universe, and it can find all it seeks. Because we don’t realize this is our Buddha’s nature, and we have the idea of own-self or ego, and we even identify ourselves with our body, this experience ends. Otherwise we will get enlightenment, because we were able to stabilize this state due our concentration power. Great lamas can stay in this clear light for several days in meditation, so they are very familiarized with this state when they die.
But not achieving this, we will enter in a state of deep unconsciousness for 3 days, and then we reappear as a “ghost”. Because we identify with our body so much, we will manifest ourselves as one, because that is what we believe we are. A lot of people can see these kind of ghosts, like the film “the 6th sense”. In this state you likely will not be aware that you are death. In this state one is 9 time smarter than with body. A great suffering is followed, because you experience a lot of things and you can’t find an explanation and there is none to explain you. Anyone who thinks about you, you can see exactly what he is thinking. If your mother is crying, you can feel perfectly what she is feeling. If your son is thinking in your heritage instead in you, you will see that clearly. You will perceive exactly how your close relatives perceive which will be very different of how you thought they perceived you. This is very hard. You will receive all these neurotic emotions and thoughts in big amounts. So is VERY recommended to avoid people in the dying room who be crying or in any neurotic state, specially close relatives who “want to see the body” and then they start crying on the corpse. Because one can perceive this very clearly, one is influenced by theses mental states and you could reborn in a world with these sad emotions. This is why in Buddhist countries they make like a “party” with music, food and joy in funerals. It doesn’t mean they are happy, but they try to help the death. Emotions about what you could have done before dying, attachment to wealth of people and rancor are very negative. We should eliminate them now with recapitulation techniques and liberate all that energy before death surprises us.
A ghost you will not be able to sleep and you will feel permanently with a great energy. If you think in a place, you will appear there in that moment. In you think in someone, you will be with that person and you will be able to see clearly his thoughts. You will experience the lack of a body, however your karmic tendency to think you are your body will make you appear as human but being a ghost. Only a few people could see you, and usually you will not have contact with them. So you will suffer trying to communicate with relatives and people, failing all the time. You will be able to see beings from other realms with all kinds of forms and horrible aspects, beings that use to be between us now but because our karmic limited view we can’t see them. That will scare you a lot.
After some days of suffering these experiences you will go to a mirror and realize that you are not there. You will pass between walls and people, and you will realize you are a ghost. An intense suffering is followed, because you will not know which will be your future and there is none to take refugee with. After 49 days, your karmic tendencies will take you to an other reality in one of the 6 realms: gods, titans, humans, animas, hungry ghost or paranoid being. You didn’t have to pass for this if you reborn in a pure land.
Something you can do when dying is to ask that your body not be touched in 72 hours after clinical death. Touching your corpse before could generate tendencies to reborn in lower realms. The feet and genitals are the worst places of the body to be touched, because you mind could leave your body there and make you reborn in a lower realm. If your mind leaves the body for the top of your head, you can reborn in a pure land. When the Buddha died, he was lied down with his right hand closing his face channels, as ear, nose and mouth . You can find statues of Buddha like that. In Thailand kings used to died also in that position. It is also recommended.
After 72 hours your mind has finally left your body, so the corpse can be destroyed. However, in a personal decision, I requested to donate all my organs to be useful to other people.
An other good practice before dying is the Tong Len, the practice of give and receive. This practice is very powerful because it generates an altruistic mind.
Avoiding fear and neurotic states of mind is important. You can meditate in a Buddha, as Amithaba, making visualizations of him and with a mala say his mantra as many times as you can (OM Ami Dewa Hri). You could also say your best yidam’s mantra instead.
What else??... Hmmm. I don’t remember. Please ask me any doubt you have.
I hope it be useful!!
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