view our thoughts and emotions as they arise; whether we are

able to penetrate them directly with the View and recognize

their inherent luminosity nature, or whether we obscure it

with our instinctive habitual reactions.

If the ground of our ordinary mind is completely purified, it

is as if we have shattered the storehouse of our karma and so

emptied the karmic supply for future rebirths. However, if we

have not been able to completely purify our mind, there will

still be remnants of past habits and karmic tendencies resting

in this storehouse of karma. Whenever suitable conditions

materialize, they will manifest, propelling us into new rebirths.


The Ground Luminosity dawns; for a practitioner, it lasts as

long as he or she can rest, undistracted, in the state of the

nature of mind. For most people, however, it lasts no longer

than a snap of the fingers, and for some, the masters say, "as

long as it takes to eat a meal." The vast majority of people do

not recognize the Ground Luminosity at all, and instead they

are plunged into a state of unconsciousness, which can last up

to three and a half days. It is then that the consciousness

finally leaves the body.

This has led to a custom in Tibet of making sure that the

body is not touched or disturbed for three days after death. It

is especially important in the case of a practitioner, who may

have merged with the Ground Luminosity and be resting in

that state of the nature of mind. I remember in Tibet how

everyone took great care to maintain a silent and peaceful

atmosphere around the body, particularly in the case of a great

master or practitioner, to avoid causing the slightest disturbance.

But even the body of an ordinary person is often not

moved before three days have elapsed, since you never know

if a person is realized or not, and it is uncertain when the consciousness

has separated from the body. It is believed that if

the body is touched in a certain place—if, for example, an

injection is given—it may draw the consciousness to that spot.

Then the consciousness of the dead person may leave through

the nearest opening instead of through the fontanel, and take

on an unfortunate rebirth.

Some masters insist more than others on leaving the body

for three days. Chadral Rinpoche, a Zen-like Tibetan master

living in India and Nepal, told people who were complaining

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