The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

realjannaweiss

The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

THE PRACTICES FOR DYING 235

he stopped: "Oh! I'm sorry, I almost forgot... this is my gift

for you!" He picked up the very bread and white scarf my

grandfather had just offered him, and gave them back to him

as if they were a present.

Often he used to sleep outside in the open air. One day, in

the precincts of the Dzogchen monastery, he passed away:

with his dog by his side, right in the middle of the street, and

in a pile of garbage. No one expected what happened next,

but it was witnessed by many people. All around his body

appeared a dazzling sphere of rainbow-colored light.

It is said that "medium practitioners of middling capacity die

like wild animals or lions, on snow mountains, in mountain caves and

empty valleys." They can take care of themselves completely and

prefer to go to deserted places and die quietly, without being

disturbed or fussed over by friends and relatives.

Accomplished practitioners such as these are reminded by

the master of the practices they would employ as they

approach death. Here are two examples from the tradition of

Dzogchen. In the first, practitioners are advised to lie down in

the "sleeping lion position." Then they are told to focus their

awareness in their eyes, and fix their gaze in the sky in front

of them. Simply leaving their mind unaltered, they rest in that

state, allowing their Rigpa to mix with the primordial space of

truth. As the Ground Luminosity of death arises, they flow

into it quite naturally and attain enlightenment.

But this is only possible for a person who has already stabilized

his or her realization of the nature of mind through the

practice. For those who have not reached this level of perfection,

and need a more formal method to focus on, there is

another practice: To visualize their consciousness as a white

syllable "A," and eject it through the central channel and out

through the crown of their heads into the buddha realm. This is

a practice of phowa, the transference of consciousness, and it is

the method my master helped Lama Tseten do when he died.

People who successfully accomplish either of these two

practices will still go through the physical processes of dying,

it is said, but they will not go through the subsequent bardo

states.

PHOWA: THE TRANSFERENCE

OF THE CONSCIOUSNESS

Now that the bardo of dying dawns upon me,

I will abandon all grasping, yearning, and attachment,

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