very difficult experience. But if we have had instructions on

the meaning of death, we will know what enormous hope

there is when the Ground Luminosity dawns at the moment

of death. However, there still remains the uncertainty of

whether we will recognize it or not, and this is why it is so

important to stabilize the recognition of the nature of mind

through practice while we are still alive.

Many of us, however, have not had the good fortune to

encounter the teachings, and we have no idea of what death

really is. When we suddenly realize that our whole life, our

whole reality, is disappearing, it is terrifying: We don't know

what is happening to us, or where we are going. Nothing in

our previous experience has prepared us for this. As anyone

who has cared for the dying will know, our anxiety will even

heighten the experience of physical pain. If we have not taken

care of our lives, or our actions have been harmful and negative,

we will feel regret, guilt, and fear. So just to have a measure

of familiarity with these teachings on the bardos will

bring us some reassurance, inspiration, and hope, even though

we may never have practiced and realized them.

For good practitioners who know exactly what is happening,

not only is death less painful and fearful but it is the very

moment they have been looking forward to; they face it with

equanimity, and even with joy. I remember how Dudjom

Rinpoche used to tell the story of the death of one realized

yogin. He had been ill for a few days, and his doctor came to

read his pulse. The doctor detected that he was going to die,

but he was not sure whether to tell him or not; his face fell,

and he stood by the bedside looking solemn and serious. But

the yogin insisted, with an almost childlike enthusiasm, that

he tell him the worst. Finally the doctor gave in, but tried to

speak as if to console him. He said gravely: "Be careful, the

time has come." To the doctor's amazement the yogin was

delighted, as thrilled as a little child looking at a Christmas

present he is about to open. "Is it really true?" he asked.

'What sweet words, what joyful news!" He gazed into the

sky and passed away directly in a state of deep meditation.

In Tibet everyone knew that to die a spectacular death was

the way to really make a name for yourself if you had not

managed to do so already in life. One man I heard of was

determined to die miraculously and in a grand style. He knew

that often masters will indicate when they are going to die,

and summon their disciples together to be present at their

death. So this particular man gathered all his friends for a great

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