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

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

304 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGThe most powerful time to do spiritual practice for someonewho has died is during the forty-nine days of the bardoof becoming, placing special emphasis on the first twenty-onedays. It is during these first three weeks that the dead have astronger link with this life, which makes them more accessibleto our help. So it is then that spiritual practice has a far greaterpossibility of influencing their future, and of affecting theirchances for liberation, or at least a better rebirth. We shouldemploy every means possible to help them then, as after thephysical form of their next existence begins gradually to bedetermined—and this is said to happen between the twentyfirstand forty-ninth day after death—the chance for realchange is very much more limited.Help for the dead, however, is not confined to the fortyninedays after death. It is never too late to help someone who hasdied, no matter how long ago it was. The person you want tohelp may have been dead a hundred years, but it will still beof benefit to practice for them. Dudjom Rinpoche used to saythat even if someone has gained enlightenment and become abuddha, they will still need all the assistance they can possiblyget in their work of helping others.HOW WE CAN HELPThe best and easiest way to help a dead person is to do theessential practice of phowa I have taught in Chapter 13, "SpiritualHelp for the Dying," as soon as we hear that someonehas died.In Tibet we say that just as it is the nature of fire to burnand of water to quench thirst, the nature of the buddhas is tobe present as soon as anyone invokes them, so infinite is theircompassionate desire to help all sentient beings. Don't for onemoment imagine that it would be less effective for you toinvoke the truth to help your dead friend than if a "holy man"prays for them. Because you are close to the person who hasdied, the intensity of your love and the depth of your connectionwill give your invocation an added power. The mastershave assured us: Call out to them, and the buddhas willanswer you.Khandro Tsering Chödrön, the spiritual wife of JamyangKhyentse, often says that if you really have a good heart,and really mean well, and then pray for someone, thatprayer will be very effective. So be confident that if someone

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