244 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING that the whole space around you is him. Then invoke him and go over in your mind every moment you spent with him. Merge your mind with his and say, from the depths of your heart, in your own words, 'You see how helpless I am, how I can no longer practice intensively. Now I must rely totally on you. I trust you completely. Take care of me. Make me one with you.' Do the Guru Yoga practice, imagining with special intensity the rays of light streaming out from your master and purifying you, burning away all your impurities, your illness too, and healing you; your body melting into light; and merging your mind, in the end, with his wisdom mind, in complete confidence. "When you practice, don't worry if you feel it is not flowing easily; simply trust and feel it in your heart. Everything now depends on inspiration, because only that will relax your anxiety and dissolve your nervousness. So keep a wonderful photograph of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, or Padmasambhava, in front of you. Focus on it gently at the beginning of your practice, and then just relax into its radiance. Imagine it was sunny outside, and that you could take off all your clothes and bask in the warmth: slip out of all your inhibitions and relax in the glow of the blessing, when you really feel it. And deeply, deeply let go of everything. "Don't worry about anything. Even if you find your attention wandering, there is no particular 'thing' you have to hold onto. Just let go, and drift in the awareness of the blessing. Don't let small, niggling questions distract you, like 'Is this Rigpa? Is it not?' Just let yourself be more and more natural. Remember, your Rigpa is always there, always in the nature of your mind. Remember Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's words: 'If your mind is unaltered, you are in the state of Rigpa.' So as you have received the teachings, you received the introduction to the nature of mind, just relax in the Rigpa, without doubting. "You are lucky enough to have some good spiritual friends near you now. Encourage them to create an environment of practice around you, and to go on practicing around you up until and after your death. Get them to read you a poem you love, or a guidance from your master, or an inspiring teaching. Ask them to play you a tape of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a chant of the practice, or an exalting piece of music. What I pray is that your every waking moment should mingle with the blessing of the practice, in an atmosphere alive and luminous with inspiration.
THE PRACTICES FOR DYING 245 "As the music or the tape of the teaching goes on playing, drift off to sleep in it, wake up in it, doze in it, eat in it. . . Let the atmosphere of practice totally pervade this last part of your life, just as my aunt Ani Rilu did. Do nothing but practice, so that it even continues in your dreams. And just as she did, let the practice be the last and strongest memory and influence on your mind, replacing in your mindstream a lifetime's ordinary habits. 'And as you feel yourself nearing the end, think only of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, with every breath and heartbeat. Whatever thought you die with, remember, is the one that will return most potently when you reawaken in the bardos after death." LEAVING THE BODY Now that the bardo of dying dawns upon me, I will abandon all grasping, yearning, and attachment, Enter undistracted into clear awareness of the teaching, And eject my consciousness into the space of unborn Rigpa; As I leave this compound body of flesh and blood I will know it to be a transitory illusion. At present, our body is undoubtedly the center of our whole universe. We associate it, without thinking, with our self and our ego, and this thoughtless and false association continually reinforces our illusion of their inseparable, concrete existence. Because our body seems so convincingly to exist, our "I" seems to exist and "you" seem to exist, and the entire illusory, dualistic world we never stop projecting around us looks ultimately solid and real. When we die this whole compound construction falls dramatically to pieces. What happens, to put it extremely simply, is that consciousness, at its subtlest level, continues without the body and goes through the series of states called "bardos." The teachings tell us that it is precisely because we no longer have a body in the bardos that there is no ultimate reason to fear any experience, however terrifying, that may happen to us after death. How can any harm, after all, ever come to a "nobody"? The problem, however, is that in the bardos, most people go on grasping at a false sense of self, with its ghostly grasping at physical solidity; and this continuation of that illusion, which has been at the root of all suffering in life, exposes them in death to more suffering, especially in the "bardo of becoming."