by even the slightest negative thought or hankering. In Tibet

they used to believe that phowa would be very difficult to

accomplish if there were any materials made of animal skins

or furs in the same room as the dying person. Finally, as

smoking—or any kind of drug—has the effect of blocking the

central channel, it will render the phowa more difficult.

"Even a great sinner," it is said, can be liberated at the

moment of death if a realized and powerful master transfers

the person's consciousness into a buddha realm. And even if

the dying person lacks merit and practice, and the master is

not completely successful in effecting the phowa, the master

can still affect the dying person's future, and this practice can

help him or her take rebirth in a higher realm. For a successful

phowa, however, the conditions do have to be perfect. Phowa

can help a person with strong negative karma, but only if that

person has a close and pure connection with the master who

performs it, if he or she has faith in the teachings, and if he or

she has truly asked, from the heart, for purification.

In an ideal setting in Tibet, members of the family would

normally invite many Lamas to come and do the phowa again

and again, until the signs of accomplishment appeared. They

might do it for hours on end, hundreds of times, or even the

whole day long. Some dying persons would take only one or

two sessions of phowa to manifest a sign, whereas for others

not even a whole day was enough. This, it goes without saying,

depends very much on the karma of the person dying.

In Tibet there were practitioners who, even though they

were not renowned for their practice, had special power to

effect the phowa, and the signs would readily appear. There

are various signs in the dying person of a successful phowa

carried out by a practitioner. Sometimes a bunch of hair falls

out near the fontanel, or a warmth or vapor is felt or seen to

rise from the crown of the head. In some exceptional cases,

the masters or practitioners have been so powerful that when

they uttered the syllable that effects the transference, everyone

in the room would faint, or a piece of bone would fly off the

dead person's skull as the consciousness was propelled out

with immense force. 8



In all religious traditions it is held that to die in a state of

prayer is enormously powerful. So what I hope you can do, as

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