Reading #14: The process of dying
2 causes of death:
1) Accident/illness leads to early death: Can be averted if have prior knowledge of what will kill
you. Signs come in dreams, shadow images, etc. but need to be interpreted by an expert. Warn
a person to use practices to prolong life because death is coming.
- Spiritual practise accumulates merit and both heals & protects against illness, prolonging life
by making one psychologically, emotionally and spiritually whole.
- Special long-life practices call life energy from elements and universe through
- One practise to enhance life is to buy animals that will be killed and set them free. Based on
karma concept: giving life to others will lengthen your life
2) Old age/exhaustion of natural life span: Because of Karma, have certain lifespan. Can prolong
through perfecting Yoga. Teachers can sometimes tell the student their expected lifespan.
Bardo of dying: Between moment we contract terminal condition and moment inner respiration ceases.
Suffer if not prepared for it (not know what will happen) and even for practitioners. But hope through
- Good practitioners know what happening and may look forward to death
- See clear light, hope
- Life measured in number of breaths, hold breath to postpone death?
- Okay practitioners need teacher there to remind them
- Understand stages of dying, natural process
Process of dying: 2 phases-
1) Outer dissolution: Senses & elements dissolve
- Elements= earth, air, fire, water, space
- Through elements body formed, dissolve= die
- Potential & quality of elements exist in mind too
- From mind, physical body develops
- Tantric Buddhism view of body with channels that inner air flows through, red & white
- Senses fail, body loses energy, feel heavy [earth element dissolving into water]. Sign is
- Feel dry, lose control of fluids (incontinence, etc.) [water dissolve to fire]. Sign is haze with
wisps of smoke
- Become confused, body heat leaves (fire into air). Sign is red sparks
- Hard to breath, physical world slip away, hallucinate (good life= peace, bad= fear). [Wind
into consciousness], sign is flaming torch. Stop breathing
- Inner processes/ respiration still continues for about 20 minutes
2) Inner dissolution: Thought states and emotions dissolve