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

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

218 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGFINDING A SPIRITUAL PRACTICEIf your dying friend or relative is familiar with some kindof meditation practice, encourage him or her to rest in meditationas much as possible, and meditate with the person asdeath approaches. If the dying person is at all open to the ideaof spiritual practice, help the person find a suitable, simplepractice, do it with him or her as often as possible, and keepreminding the person gently of it as death nears.Be resourceful and inventive in how you help at this crucialmoment, for a great deal depends on it: The whole atmosphereof dying can be transformed if people find a practicethey can do wholeheartedly before and as they die. There areso many aspects of spiritual practice; use your acumen andsensitivity to find the one they might be most connected with:it could be forgiveness, purification, dedication, or feeling thepresence of light or love. And as you help them begin, prayfor the success of their practice with all your heart and mind;pray for them to be given every energy and faith to follow thepath they choose. I have known people even at the lateststages of dying make the most startling spiritual progress byusing one prayer or one mantra or one simple visualizationwith which they really made a connection in their heart.Stephen Levine tells the story of a woman he was counselingwho was dying of cancer. 2 She felt lost because, althoughshe had a natural devotion to Jesus Christ, she had left thechurch. Together they explored what she might do tostrengthen that faith and devotion. She came to the realizationthat what would help her renew her connection with Christ,and find some trust and confidence while dying, would be torepeat continuously the prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercyon me." Saying this prayer opened her heart, and she began tofeel Christ's presence with her at all times.THE ESSENTIAL PHOWA PRACTICEThe most valuable and powerful of all practices I havefound in caring for the dying, one which I have seen an astonishingnumber of people take to with enthusiasm, is a practicefrom the Tibetan tradition called phowa (pronounced "po-wa"),which means the transference of consciousness.Phowa for dying people has been performed by friends, relatives,or masters, quite simply and naturally, all over themodern world—in Australia, America, and Europe. Thousands

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