Go through exactly the same stages as in the main Tonglen. In

the visualization in part 3, imagine every aspect of the dying

person's suffering and fear gathering into the mass of hot,

black, grimy smoke, which you then breathe in; and consider

too that by so doing, as before, you are destroying your selfgrasping

and self-cherishing, and purifying all your negative


Now, as before, imagine, as you are breathing out, the light

of the heart of your enlightened mind is filling the dying person

with its peace and well-being and purifying all his or her

negative karma.

At every moment in our lives we need compassion, but

what more urgent moment could there be than when we are

dying? What more wonderful and consoling gift could you

give to the dying than the knowledge that they are being

prayed for, and that you are taking on their suffering and

purifying their negative karma through your practice for


Even if they don't know that you are practicing for them,

you are helping them and in turn they are helping you. They

are actively helping you to develop your compassion, and so

purify and heal yourself. For me, every dying person is a

teacher, giving all those who help them a chance to transform

themselves through developing their compassion. 8


You may be asking yourself this question: "If I take in the

sufferings and pain of others, won't I risk harming myself?" If

you feel at all hesitant or feel that you don't yet have the

strength or courage of compassion to do the practice of Tonglen

wholeheartedly, don't worry. Just imagine yourself doing

it, saying in your mind, "As I breathe in, I am taking on the

suffering of my friend or others, and as I breathe out, I am

giving him or them happiness and peace." Just simply doing

this might create the climate in your mind that could inspire

you to begin practicing Tonglen directly.

If you feel at all hesitant or unable to do the full practice,

you can also do Tonglen in the form of a simple prayer, deeply

aspiring to help beings. You might pray for example: "May I

be able to take on the suffering of others; may I be able to

give my well-being and happiness to them." This prayer will

create auspicious conditions for the awakening of your power

to do Tonglen in the future.

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