Do not back down from the fact that one day you will die for sure.
A Buddhist’s life naturally contains the preparation for death. We aim to cultivate positive, happy, virtuous states of mind during our lifetime while abandoning non-virtuous, harmful, and painful states of mind. One of the reasons is that we don’t want our negative states of mind to follow us around from one realm to another, so we cultivate the habit to abandon painful negative emotions – asap. Not hold on to them.
We need to take this seriously and prepare for death while we can. This current human existence is not forever, you know. Death will come, and that is a non-negotiable fact. It’s only the timing that is uncertain.
That potent moment of death is an opportunity for an enormous spiritual breakthrough – if we can keep our mind in a pleasant place, that is. When we are prepared and remember our spiritual practice during the time of death, we do have an excellent chance to succeed. Succeed with what you might ask?
Well, we have a rare and precious human life right now, but we are not human eternally. We are spirits having a fleeting human experience. As spirits, there are many different forms of existence available to us. We don’t know where we will end up next time, and only karma will show the way. However, there are pure spiritual realms that we can aspire to go to in the life after this. Such as the pure realm of Sukhavati. (Sanskrit) (Dewachen – Tibetan.)
Due to enlightened activities by the most dedicated and the universal law of interdependence, we can benefit from the masters’ good intentions and promises. Such as the promise of the venerable monk Dharmakara.
Venerable Dharmakara made a promise long time ago, that when he got enlightened, he would come to reign in a non-discriminating pure realm, where everyone was welcomed. A paradise where no one would need to be a saint to go to. Even those with faith and determination alone would still have a fair chance to be reborn there. And an even greater chance if they were habituated to let go of hardships and keep the mind at peace.
Dharmakara kept his promise and came to be known as the one we today call Buddha Amitabha (Sanskrit: “Infinite Light”) – the great savior Buddha. He is usually depicted with a red body, sitting in meditation posture (Vajrasana/dhyana-mudra), with a begging bowl in his lap, in front of a small pool of lotus flowers. That’s where we can imagine the new arrivals being re-born.
By being mindful and grateful to the precious life we have now, we can remain ready for death to come at any moment, using our lives well under all circumstances, and always remember the uncertainness of its length.
Since we have had a lot of focus on sickness, old age, death, and dying this unstable year of 2020, we could use the comforting grace of Amitabha Buddha’s promise and turn to his infinite light to connect with the pure realm of Sukhavati, by making it a habit to chant his name and his mantra.
Therefore I decided to release a beautiful and simple chant of Amitabha’s mantra before years end. (*See note at the end of this post.) One that was performed during a Kirtan concert I gave years ago with some friends in Woodstock. It will be available from Winter solstice, 2020, in itself a powerful day for stepping into a new way of co-existing, beyond life and death, or any other mind made borders.
Whatever hardships we are going through in our lives, we need to remember that suffering is samsara’s nature. (Samsara means “Wandering” – pointing to the cycle of existence.) Not until we have learned how to get out of this habitual mary-go-round and thereby transformed it, we’ll never be free from our suffering – not even if we take our own lives.
On the contrary suicide solves nothing at all. Since it is the mind that experiences suffering, it will not help to leave the body behind. The pain remains after the body drops and follows us into the next state of consciousness. Our concern here is whether the mind can stay harmonious at all times.
All of us have faced significant trials in life, this year not the least, and it’s often by drawing from such difficulties that we find our most precious teachings and inspiration to remain on a healthy spiritual path.
To die without anger or clinging is vital for a happy death and a good rebirth. So since the state of mind at the time of death is vitally important, it’s of significant concern to die with a calm and peaceful mind. Holding on to anger and other negative emotions will not lead you to Amitabha’s Dewachen or any other pure realm for that matter.
So, be gentle with yourself as well as others. Express love and gratitude whenever you can. And when your loved ones are about to pass, energetically permit them to go, especially since they feel your state of mind even more vividly at this point.
But before you can help someone else through the process of death, you need to learn how to prepare for your own. To die with a happy and peaceful mind is a severe spiritual concern. Some are very well prepared for it, but most of us are not, especially if we have never given death a sincere thought.
Preparing for a happy continuation into our next existence depends not on our formal spiritual practice alone but also on how we hold our minds every day and every moment of our lives, especially at death.
Don’t delay your preparation. Start chanting Amitabha Buddhas mantra today, and get the transmission when you can.
This is the last blog post from Lama Chimey for Sky Dancer World during 2020. The next article will be posted in January 2021.
*Note: Aum Amideva Hri (Live) with Chimey Lhatso will be released on all major digital music stores online on December 21st, 2020, winter solstice – a day known to most astrologers as The Great Conjunction. May all beings benefit!