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Buddhadharma : Summer 2007
buddhadharma| 31 |summer 2007 to a source of blessings that is an embodiment and a reflection of our own fundamental nature. When we genuinely supplicate the guru and the lineage, we feel the presence of the sacred world; the quali- ties of clarity, gentleness, peace, joy, and equanimity are naturally with us. Therefore we are confident, relaxed, and fearless. If you practice deity yoga, such as Vajrasattva, then you can supplicate the deity as well. It is no different than supplicating your guru and the lineage. In general, in the tradi- tions of Mahamudra, Dzogchen, and Vajrayana, devotion is seen as a key that unlocks the doorway to the most profound experiences of mind. There are many beautiful and inspiring sup- plication prayers that we can recite, such as the supplication to Padmasambhava called the Guru Rinpoche Prayer. Such practices should be done regularly in the bardo of this life and also at the time of death. We recite these prayers now with the intention of transforming the fear and suf- fering we experience in this life, and at the same time we maintain an awareness of our impending death and its potential for suffering. Accordingly, we form the strong intention to supplicate in the same way at that time. We say to ourselves, “In the bardos of death and after-death, I will supplicate just as I am doing now.” In this way, we develop a habitual connection with the practice so that when we enter those bardos, our supplication comes eas- ily; it is very natural, genuine, and relaxed. One Last Chance for Enlightenment All of our disturbing emotions cease with the dissolution of the subtle body and consciousness itself; therefore, they no longer manifest in us as they usually do. Since we are finally rid of our kleshas, we should be happy. We should make every effort to connect with that pure space and attain some profound realization. If we have failed to recognize the nature of mind beforehand, then at the time of death we have one last chance to recognize it and attain liberation on the spot. That is why each time you practice medita- tion, it is important to sit with confidence and to arouse the intention to achieve enlightenment in that very session. If you become accustomed to generating such confidence now, then at the time of death you can manifest the same level of confi- dence and trust in your practice. You have one last chance – for this lifetime, at any rate. It is not your last chance ultimately; there is no sense of being doomed forever. However, the time of death is our last opportunity to achieve enlightenment now. Thus, your attitude toward your practice makes a great difference. If you do it halfheartedly, think- ing to yourself, “These are the instructions, so I will try them. Who knows, maybe this will work and maybe it won’t,” it is still better than not prac- ticing at all. At least there is a faint sense of trust and hope. However, it is not very strong and it will not be very effective. Mind Beyond Death Being in the present, in the state of nowness, is where we began our discussion of these teachings, and that is where it ends, too – not in any other place, but right here and now. When this bardo cycle ends, we take birth either in samsara or in nirvana, in some form. From the Buddhist point of view, death is not the end because it is also a beginning. The end of this life’s appearances is the beginning of the next life’s appearances. It could be the end of samsara and the beginning of nirvana. It could also be the end of a precious human birth and the beginning of a painful samsaric experience. It is up to us, to how we work with our journey through the bardos. It is important for our spiritual journey that we connect with these teachings personally and review them periodically. These days, translations of the bardo teachings are available in a variety of languages. There are also many transcripts of oral teachings, many books, and many charts. We may have more than we actually need to understand these teachings; however, it is necessary for us to utilize them. For example, it would be beneficial to set aside some time once a year to read the teach- ings and reflect on the instructions. We should stop what we are doing to remember impermanence and to prepare ourselves for death. When will our death come? It could be tomorrow. It could be today. The time that death will arrive is uncertain. Therefore, we have to be prepared for it. We have to be ready twenty-four hours a day. These practices are relevant, even crucial, for all of us, until we transcend the journey itself. At some point, we make the discovery that, ultimately, mind transcends death. Who we are and where we are is mind. Mind endures because it is unborn and unceasing; it endures because it transcends our concepts of time and space; it is not fixed to one occurrence in time or to one place. It is mind that journeys as a guest in this physical body until we take full possession of the boundless wisdom and compassion that are innate to us, and realize the freedom and purity of our abiding nature. Beyond death there is mind, and where there is mind there is uninterrupted display that is spacious, radiant, and continually manifesting. CouRTesyJoHnsTevensonGalleRy,neWyoRkCiTy