truth of the teachings—in the mirror of the nature of mind—

and points us directly to the heart of our practice. If our master

is not present, spiritual friends who have a good karmic

connection with us should be there to help remind us.

It is said that the best time for this introduction is after the

outer breathing has ceased and before the end of the "inner

respiration," though it is safest to began during the dissolution

process, before the senses have completely failed. If you will

not have the opportunity to see your master just before your

death, you will need to receive and acquaint yourself with

these instructions well beforehand.

If the master is present at the deathbed, what he or she

does then in our tradition follows this sequence. The master

first declares words like: "O son/daughter of an enlightened

family, listen without distraction..." and then leads us

through the stages of the dissolution process, one by one.

Then he or she will essentialize the heart of the introduction

powerfully and explicitly, in a few pungent words, so that it

creates a strong impression on our mind, and ask us to rest in

the nature of mind. In case this is beyond our capacity, the

master will remind us of the phowa practice, if we are familiar

with it; if not, he or she will effect the phowa practice for us.

Then, as a further precaution, the master might also explain

the nature of the experiences of the bardos after death, and

how they are all, without exception, the projections of our

own mind, and inspire us with the confidence to recognize

this at every moment. "O son or daughter, whatever you see,

however terrifying it is, recognize it as your own projection;

recognize it as the luminosity, the natural radiance of your

mind." 3 Finally the master will instruct us to remember the

pure realms of the buddhas, to generate devotion, and to pray

to be reborn there. The master will repeat the words of the

introduction three times and, remaining in the state of Rigpa,

direct his or her blessing toward the dying disciple.


There are three essential practices for dying:

• At best, resting in the nature of mind, or evoking the heartessence

of our practice

• Next, the phowa practice, the transference of consciousness

• Last, relying on the power of prayer, devotion, aspiration,

and the blessings of enlightened beings.

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