In TRAINING by Erik Pema Kunsang

While collecting useful information of all kinds on how to improve our living conditions, upgrading job skills, even food recipes, sometimes being able to live may feel as if a matter of life and death. That’s why we shouldn’t leave out a very important information: the practical advice to help yourself and others at the end of life.
Most spiritual traditions agree that awareness, that ephemeral conscious entity which everybody feels but rarely grasps, is not something that ceases when the body dies. If they are correct, it would be a good idea to prepare for what is awaiting us when we leave the body. A clear mind, based on knowledge and insight, can make us truly fearless.
A clean and plain insight into what consciousness is and how it behaves, reduces an anxiety that is prone to control our behavior and our intentions both while we live this life and when we take off.  As fear of death and existential angst is less and less present, at times not even as an annoying background noise, we have room for a love that is genuine and uncontrived, and which will benefit ourselves and others also as we are close to the end of life.

This knowledge of death gives, according to Tibetan Buddhism, first rise to a degree of soberness which can be guided into self-confidence, then to compassion and inner peace. The Tibetan tradition carry special insights about life, death and the states in between, called bardo. These insights contribute to improving our journey through death. We can learn to recognize the signs of death that show themselves in the body and the mind. We can learn about the lights, sounds and colors of the bardo, and about the attraction of the various realms, and the moment of death and what happens before next birth. We can train in methods that corresponds to the four bardos: this life, dying, the intermediary state and rebirth.

The tantric lineages of Tibet also have a meditation training that can be used by the dying and by relatives, and very particular instructions on how to transfer the consciousness at the time of death. Its called powa, transference. Once you are familiar with these methods and have tasted some of their results, you will notice less fear of death, more compassion and increased  sense of being at ease in yourself.

About the Author
Erik Pema Kunsang

Erik Pema Kunsang

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Translator of ancient Buddhist scriptures, author, bridge-builder to modern life, Buddhist teacher & meditation instructor. Board of director at 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Founder of Rangjung Yeshe Publications and LEVEKUNST art of life. Other LEVEKUNST articles by the same author. Erik's website & retreats.

Photo by Morquefile

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