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

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

250 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGvery difficult experience. But if we have had instructions onthe meaning of death, we will know what enormous hopethere is when the Ground Luminosity dawns at the momentof death. However, there still remains the uncertainty ofwhether we will recognize it or not, and this is why it is soimportant to stabilize the recognition of the nature of mindthrough practice while we are still alive.Many of us, however, have not had the good fortune toencounter the teachings, and we have no idea of what deathreally is. When we suddenly realize that our whole life, ourwhole reality, is disappearing, it is terrifying: We don't knowwhat is happening to us, or where we are going. Nothing inour previous experience has prepared us for this. As anyonewho has cared for the dying will know, our anxiety will evenheighten the experience of physical pain. If we have not takencare of our lives, or our actions have been harmful and negative,we will feel regret, guilt, and fear. So just to have a measureof familiarity with these teachings on the bardos willbring us some reassurance, inspiration, and hope, even thoughwe may never have practiced and realized them.For good practitioners who know exactly what is happening,not only is death less painful and fearful but it is the verymoment they have been looking forward to; they face it withequanimity, and even with joy. I remember how DudjomRinpoche used to tell the story of the death of one realizedyogin. He had been ill for a few days, and his doctor came toread his pulse. The doctor detected that he was going to die,but he was not sure whether to tell him or not; his face fell,and he stood by the bedside looking solemn and serious. Butthe yogin insisted, with an almost childlike enthusiasm, thathe tell him the worst. Finally the doctor gave in, but tried tospeak as if to console him. He said gravely: "Be careful, thetime has come." To the doctor's amazement the yogin wasdelighted, as thrilled as a little child looking at a Christmaspresent he is about to open. "Is it really true?" he asked.'What sweet words, what joyful news!" He gazed into thesky and passed away directly in a state of deep meditation.In Tibet everyone knew that to die a spectacular death wasthe way to really make a name for yourself if you had notmanaged to do so already in life. One man I heard of wasdetermined to die miraculously and in a grand style. He knewthat often masters will indicate when they are going to die,and summon their disciples together to be present at theirdeath. So this particular man gathered all his friends for a great

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