Continuing Wednesday’s teaching on line because of suspension of teachings to keep everyone safe. We are continuing with Panchen Rinpoche Choekyi Gyaltsen’s Bardo Trang-drol (Liberation from the precipice of Bardo). It had four subdivisions and we are dealing with the third one which is REMEBERING THE LAMA’S WORDS AT THE TIME OF DEATH.
Words of Panchen- “The doctors have deserted and all means of recovery have failed, The loved ones have given up the hope of recuperation, finding oneself totally hapless without any hope, may I remember the teaching of the Lama”.
So, we have to expect that one day when the end comes, we will find ourselves in such a situation, where the doctors who have been treating us have lost hope and know that we are destined to die; their attitude towards us also changes because they see it as a hopeless case. They may not ignore us or be rude but their words of comfort will sound more circumspect and they will not be reassuring as they were before things deteriorated to the extent of hopelessness. They will not come to our bedside as frequently as before and even if they come they will come only for brief periods. However, all doctors are different and each one will have their own characteristics. In any case, the patient will feel the coldness of the doctors who have been treating them. This is of course after all the means of recovery such as operation, therapy, puja and medicines have failed. When the doctor realises the situation, then, their attitude will also change, that’s what is being hammered home.
The loved ones will also realise that there is little that would change the situation and so they lose hope. They will try their best to lighten the atmosphere but deep in their heart they have realised that that there is no hope now. In such a dismal and distressing situation where one can find nothing that will alter the situation and no help is available, “may I be able to remember the words of the teacher”. In other words, it’s the clarion call for help. There is no other help forth coming other than the words that the teacher had spoken that had struck a cord in oneself. Be it about taking refuge in the three jewels, cultivating the Bodhicitta or reflecting on emptiness or just reciting the mantras that one had been doing in good times and brought comfort and courage. It’s the last resort when we are in dying situation.
It has to be reminded that unless and until we practice the Dharma while everything is going well, we honestly cannot expect miracles to happen by thinking of the Lama’s words or taking refugee, cultivating Bodhicitta or the rest of it. The individual must prepare during ones life time keeping in mind the imminent death that is shadowing us every day and everywhere. Without such awareness, we will not be inclined to do any preparation. We will be distracted by the hustle and bustle of this life and will never even think of death. We would rather bury it under the carpet since it’s an unpleasant thing to think about. This is what happens to 99.99 percent of the human population. People think of death only when it comes knocking at their door.
The Buddha’s first words were about impermanence when he achieved enlightenment and he again spoke of impermanence as his last words when he passed into Pari nirvana. This, according to scholars conveys the message how important the Buddha regarded our mortality as a sign post towards liberation. When we realise for ourselves the unpleasant and fearful process of our body malfunctioning and cease to exist, this fuels the need to work to free us from this bondage of death and rebirth. That is why reflecting on our own ultimate end is an important spiritual awakening.
I hope all of you are able to read this and get some incentive to do Dharma practice.
This is for all those who are interested. Geshe la