The essence of Buddhism has always been the same throughout infinite time and space. No matter what plane of existence that it is found, no matter what language that it is taught in, and no matter what culture that holds it, the essence has always, and will always be wisdom and compassion.
Just as a flower will grow and flourish, so it must wilt and die. Often, we find it hard to accept the inevitability and inseparability of death. We want to change it, resist it, and this can make things very challenging. This is why, in the end, it is really about accepting it. We trust that we all have the power, we all have the ability to accept death. We don’t need to pressure ourselves, but instead can take things one step at a time.
Every day, if we are able to accept a little form of death, a little form of the reality of life, then death itself can be experienced as peaceful and meaningful. Just as living is meaningful, so death will become meaningful too. ~ Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa
A king’s robe or an old blanket can keep you warm. A gold throne or the bare ground can be your seat. A grand palace or a mud hut can be your shelter. A jeweled plate or a wooden pot can hold your food. The external world does not destroy your inner peace, But your attachment and aversion will.
There are a vast amount of Buddhas already, and each one manifests countless forms simultaneously throughout all of the planes of cyclic existence for the benefit of all beings. However, at any given time, each individual being will have a stronger karmic connection with certain Buddhas, compared to other Buddhas.
Likewise, if you were a Buddha, since a huge number of beings throughout cyclic existence would have a stronger karmic connection with you during certain times, you would be able to benefit them much more directly than the many other Buddhas would be able to. Do not forget this.
The deeper you realise this, the greater your bodhicitta motivation becomes – in other words, the greater your compassionate wish to attain the enlightened state of a Buddha for the benefit of all beings, as soon as possible!
While beginning my study of ‘The Tibetan Book of The Dead,’ I came across the word, Bardo. Bardo means a gap or transition. A space between.
I think of Bardo as being like a moment when you step toward the edge of a precipice; such a moment, for example, is when a master introduces a disciple to the essential, original, and innermost nature of his or her mind. The greatest and most charged of these moments, however, is the moment of death. ~ “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” by Sogyal Rinpoche.
There are many bardos. Our life is full of these junctures: bardos of sleep, bardos of dreams to name only a couple. The space or gap between death and rebirth is a bardo and probably the one most people think of first. It is vital to understand this word when we think of life and death.
When we see that death is a space between, a temporary place where we pass through, then the fear is lessened. What is within that space is of importance.
This small article is not an exhaustive study of the ‘gaps’. It is only a light touching of the meaning so we can move forward with some understanding as we dig deeper into Bardo Thodal.
Death is not the end but the beginning of another chapter. So let us live with love and compassion during this life and have no regrets when the bardo of dying arrives. We can and should make use of our life to find meaning now.
Death is often a frightening subject. We are afraid to die. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we are not exposed to death. We have no knowledge or experience of dying as these days; most people die in the hospital. Several decades ago people died at home. Everyone, including young children, had the opportunity to observe a relative dying at home. This experience and knowledge abated much of the fear around dying. ~ from” Barry Kerzin’s FaceBook page.
How does one speak about Dying and Death in the Western world? Mostly with fear and dread from what I have learned during my life.
Are fear and dread good ways of dealing with what we all must go through? I think not. Our fear of death causes us much suffering here in the West. I know I have in the past sustained emotional pain when my loved ones passed. And there have been quite a few in the last few years. Too many if I allow my heart to speak.
Therefore, it is time to learn more about death and the fear of dying from the Mahayana Buddhist viewpoint. My need to learn coincided with one of my friends Barry Kerzin’s posts.
A doctor, a monk, a teacher, a lazy man. All of these things, yet none. ~ Dr. Barry Kerzin.
Dr. Kerzin wrote posts starting in late February regarding The Eight Stages of Death. The posts were detailed and yet understandable.
The timeliness strikes me. And is not lost on me. It is time to understand deeper. It is time to drop the illusion.
Over the next weeks, I will be writing about Death from the Mahayana perspective and delve deeper into the Eight Stages of Dying. Being a person who likes to research and explore a topic, especially one so dear, like this one, there will be quite a few posts.
May this post be of benefit to all sentient beings.
‘We have the propensity for showing kindness and love from birth. It is part of our nature. However, this has been turned off by our upbringing or different circumstances and we have become habituated to not using it.’ ~ The 17th Karmapa