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

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

334 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGWhat am I doing? What's it all about?" just this absolute,crushed, hopeless demeanor—not knowing what to do or where togo or who they were or anything else.They seemed to be forever moving, rather than just sitting, butin no special direction. They would start straight, then veer to theleft and take a few steps and veer back to the right And absolutelynothing to do. Searching, but for what they were searching Idon't know. 35In the accounts we have of the near-death experience, aborder or limit is occasionally perceived; a point of no returnis reached. At this border the person then chooses (or isinstructed) to return to life, sometimes by the presence oflight. Of course in the Tibetan bardo teachings there is no parallelto this, because they describe what happens to a personwho actually dies. However, in Tibet there was a group ofpeople, called déloks, who had something like a near-deathexperience, and what they report is fascinatingly similar.THE DÉLOK: A TIBETAN NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCEA curious phenomenon, little known in the West, but familiarto Tibetans, is the délok. In Tibetan dé lok means "returnedfrom death," and traditionally déloks are people who seemingly"die" as a result of an illness, and find themselves travelingin the bardo. They visit the hell realms, where theywitness the judgment of the dead and the sufferings of hell,and sometimes they go to paradises and buddha realms. Theycan be accompanied by a deity, who protects them andexplains what is happening. After a week the délok is sentback to the body with a message from the Lord of Death forthe living, urging them to spiritual practice and a beneficialway of life. Often the déloks have great difficulty makingpeople believe their story, and they spend the rest of theirlives recounting their experiences to others in order to drawthem toward the path of wisdom. The biographies of some ofthe more famous déloks were written down, and are sung allover Tibet by traveling minstrels.A number of aspects of the délok correspond not only with,as you would expect, the bardo teachings such as the TibetanBook of the Dead, but also with the near-death experience.Lingza Chökyi was a famous délok who came from mypart of Tibet and lived in the sixteenth century. In her biographyshe tells how she failed to realize she was dead, how she

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