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

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

110 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGThe deeper our sensitivity and the more acute our alertnessto the amazing opportunities for radical insight offered bygaps and transitions like these in life, the more inwardly preparedwe will be for when they occur in an immensely morepowerful and uncontrolled way at death.This is extremely important, because the bardo teachingstell us that there are moments when the mind is far freer thanusual, moments far more powerful than others, which carry afar stronger karmic charge and implication. The supreme oneof these is the moment of death. For at that moment the bodyis left behind, and we are offered the greatest possible opportunityfor liberation.However consummate our spiritual mastery may be, weare limited by the body and its karma. But with the physicalrelease of death comes the most marvelous opportunity to fulfilleverything we have been striving for in our practice andour life. Even in the case of a supreme master who hasreached the highest realization, the ultimate release, calledparinirvana, dawns only at death. That is why in the Tibetantradition we do not celebrate the birthdays of masters; we celebratetheir death, their moment of final illumination.In my childhood in Tibet, and years afterward, I have heardaccount after account of great practitioners, and even of seeminglyordinary yogins and laypeople, who died in an amazingand dramatic way. Not until that very last moment did theyfinally display the depth of their realization and the power ofthe teaching they had come to embody 3The Dzogchen Tantras, the ancient teachings from whichthe bardo instructions come, speak of a mythical bird, thegaruda, which is born fully grown. This image symbolizes ourprimordial nature, which is already completely perfect. Thegaruda chick has all its wing feathers fully developed insidethe egg, but it cannot fly before it hatches. Only at themoment when the shell cracks open can it burst out and soarup into the sky. Similarly, the masters tell us, the qualities ofbuddhahood are veiled by the body, and as soon as the bodyis discarded, they will be radiantly displayed.The reason the moment of death is so potent with opportunityis because it is then that the fundamental nature ofmind, the Ground Luminosity or Clear Light, will naturallymanifest, and in a vast and splendid way. If at this crucialmoment we can recognize the Ground Luminosity, the teachingstell us, we will attain liberation.This is not, however, possible unless you have become

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