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

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

222 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGDo this practice throughout your loved one's illness, andespecially (and most important) when the person is breathingthe last breath, or as soon as possible after breathing stops andbefore the body is touched or disturbed in any way. If thedying person knows you are going to do this practice forthem, and knows what it is, it can be a great source of inspirationand comfort.Sit quietly with the dying person, and offer a candle orlight in front of a picture or statue of Buddha or Christ or theVirgin Mary. Then do the practice for them. You can be doingthe practice quietly, and the person need not even know aboutit; on the other hand, if he or she is open to it, as sometimesdying people are, share the practice and explain how to do it.People often ask me: "If my dying relative or friend is apracticing Christian and I am a Buddhist, is there any conflict?"How could there be? I tell them: You are invoking the truth,and Christ and Buddha are both compassionate manifestationsof truth, appearing in different ways to help beings.I strongly suggest to doctors and nurses that they can alsodo phowa for their dying patients. Imagine how marvelouslyit could change the atmosphere in a hospital if those whowere ministering to the dying were also doing this practice. Iremember the death of Samten in my childhood, when mymaster and the monks were all practicing for him. How powerfuland uplifting it was! My deepest prayer is for everyoneto die with the same grace and peace that he did.I have formulated this essential phowa specially from the traditionalTibetan practice for dying, and it incorporates all themost important principles. So it is not only a practice fordying, but it can also be used both to purify and to heal; it isimportant for the living, and for the sick as well. If a person isgoing to be healed, it will assist that healing; if a person isdying, it will help them and heal their spirit in death; and ifthe person has died, it will continue to purify them.If you are not sure whether a person who is seriously ill isgoing to live or die, then whenever you visit them you can dothis phowa practice for them. And when you go home, do itagain. The more you do it, the more your dying friend will bepurified. You never know if you will see your friend again, orif you will be present when he or she actually dies. So sealeach visit with this practice, just as a preparation, and go ondoing the practice in whatever spare moments you have. 4

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