Do this practice throughout your loved one's illness, and

especially (and most important) when the person is breathing

the last breath, or as soon as possible after breathing stops and

before the body is touched or disturbed in any way. If the

dying person knows you are going to do this practice for

them, and knows what it is, it can be a great source of inspiration

and comfort.

Sit quietly with the dying person, and offer a candle or

light in front of a picture or statue of Buddha or Christ or the

Virgin Mary. Then do the practice for them. You can be doing

the practice quietly, and the person need not even know about

it; on the other hand, if he or she is open to it, as sometimes

dying people are, share the practice and explain how to do it.

People often ask me: "If my dying relative or friend is a

practicing Christian and I am a Buddhist, is there any conflict?"

How could there be? I tell them: You are invoking the truth,

and Christ and Buddha are both compassionate manifestations

of truth, appearing in different ways to help beings.

I strongly suggest to doctors and nurses that they can also

do phowa for their dying patients. Imagine how marvelously

it could change the atmosphere in a hospital if those who

were ministering to the dying were also doing this practice. I

remember the death of Samten in my childhood, when my

master and the monks were all practicing for him. How powerful

and uplifting it was! My deepest prayer is for everyone

to die with the same grace and peace that he did.

I have formulated this essential phowa specially from the traditional

Tibetan practice for dying, and it incorporates all the

most important principles. So it is not only a practice for

dying, but it can also be used both to purify and to heal; it is

important for the living, and for the sick as well. If a person is

going to be healed, it will assist that healing; if a person is

dying, it will help them and heal their spirit in death; and if

the person has died, it will continue to purify them.

If you are not sure whether a person who is seriously ill is

going to live or die, then whenever you visit them you can do

this phowa practice for them. And when you go home, do it

again. The more you do it, the more your dying friend will be

purified. You never know if you will see your friend again, or

if you will be present when he or she actually dies. So seal

each visit with this practice, just as a preparation, and go on

doing the practice in whatever spare moments you have. 4

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