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

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

238 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGwere very similar to those measured in psychics with strongESP abilities. He also found, from EEG (electroencephalograph)measurements, that brain waves during the phowa practicewere quite different from those found in yogins practicing otherkinds of meditation. They showed that phowa involves thestimulation of a certain part of the brain, the hypothalamus, aswell as the stopping of ordinary conscious mental activity, inorder to allow a deep state of meditation to be experienced.Sometimes it is the case that through the blessing of thephowa, ordinary people will have strong visionary experiences.Their glimpses of the peace and light of the Buddha realm,and their visions of Amitabha, are reminiscent of certainaspects of the near-death experience. And, as in the near-deathexperience, success in the phowa practice also brings confidenceand fearlessness in facing the moment of death.The essential phowa practice I have explained in the previouschapter is as much a healing practice for the living as a practicefor the moment of death, and can be done at any timewithout danger. However, the timing of the traditional phowapractice is of paramount importance. For example, it is saidthat if one were actually to transfer one's consciousness successfullybefore the moment of natural death, it would beequivalent to suicide. The point when the phowa is done iswhen the outer respiration has ceased, and the inner breathingstill continues; but perhaps it is safest to begin the phowapractice during the dissolution process (described in the nextchapter), and to repeat the practice several times.So when a master who has perfected the traditional phowaperforms it for a dying person, visualizing the consciousness ofthe person and ejecting it out through the fontanel, it is essentialthat the timing is right and it is not done too early. Anadvanced practitioner, however, with knowledge of the processof death, can check details such as the channels, themovement of the winds, and the heat of the body to seewhen the moment for phowa has come. If a master isrequested to do the transference for someone who is dying, heor she should be contacted as soon as possible, because evenfrom a distance phowa can still be effected.A number of obstacles to a successful phowa can presentthemselves. As any unwholesome frame of mind, or even thesmallest longing for any possession, will be a hindrance whenthe time of death arrives, you should try not to be dominated

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