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

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

THE PROCESS OF DYING 249UNTIMELY DEATHIt is said, on the other hand, that if it is only an obstacle ofsome kind that threatens us with untimely death, it can bemore easily averted—provided, of course, that we have foreknowledge.In the bardo teachings and Tibetan medical texts,we can find descriptions of signs warning of impending death,some foretelling death within years or months, and others interms of weeks or days. They include physical signs, certainspecific kinds of dreams, and special investigations usingshadow images. 1 Unfortunately only someone with expertknowledge will be able to interpret these signs. Their purposeis to forewarn a person that his or her life is in danger, and toalert the person to the need for using practices that lengthenlife, before these obstacles occur.Any spiritual practice we do, since it accumulates "merit,"will help prolong our lives and bring good health. A goodpractitioner, through the inspiration and power of his or herpractice, comes to feel psychologically, emotionally, and spirituallywhole, and this is both the greatest source of healingand the strongest protection against illness.There are also special "long-life practices," which summonthe life-energy from the elements and the universe through thepower of meditation and visualization. When our energy isweak and unbalanced, these longevity practices strengthen andcoordinate it, and this has the effect of extending our lifespan.There are also many other practices for enhancing life. One isto save the lives of animals that are due to be slaughtered, bybuying them and setting them free. This practice is popular inTibet and the Himalayan regions, where, for example, peopleoften go to the fish market to buy fish and then release them.It is based on the natural karmic logic that taking the life ofothers or harming them will shorten your life, and giving lifewill lengthen it.THE "PAINFUL" BARDO OF DYINGThe bardo of dying falls between the moment we contracta terminal illness or condition that will end in death, and theceasing of the "inner respiration." It is called "painful" becauseif we are not prepared for what will happen to us at death, itcan be an experience of tremendous suffering.Even for a practitioner the whole process of dying can stillbe a painful one, as losing the body and this life may be a

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