Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Notes on The Tibetan Book of the Dead

The following are some notes I took while watching the documentary The Tibetan Book of the Dead, narrated by the late Leonard Cohen. These notes are no particular order or format - they were spread between two notebooks and the back of an envelope.  I bought a copy of the translation used in the documentary on my way home from Hal's funeral.

Tibetan Buddhists believe the transition from life to death lasts 49 days.

You come into this world
this world of illusion
through a small white room
before you knew your name.
And now you leave this world
this suffering world
through another white room
and you're drawn to the light.
May you recognize there a kindred spirit.
May you be received as a beloved child.

May the hungry ghosts find liberation.

Recognize the peaceful deities as projections of your own mind, or else they will transform into the wrathful ones.
Recognize your innate weakness, and you will be liberated.
May your loved ones release their attachment to you.

These meager offerings represent everything that is desirable, virtuous & sustaining in this world
this foreign world.
The body you once wore becomes indistinct to you.
Your new body awaits.
You are anxious for your new life.

Perhaps the form you choose will be a great bird of the plains - an eagle or a hawk.  If so, I have seen your kinsman sailing the wind above the land of Chief Roman Nose.

Listen without distraction:
May you find a fortunate birth.
You will one day recognize your own true nature,
where you will become endless possibility, free
from attachment and fear.

Within you is the body of light.

This may be your last breath
beyond body & air.

I am grateful for what the path of life gives me
with aspirations for the well-being of all.

I am grateful for the time we shared
I am grateful we walked the path together, for a time.
I am grateful for the 17 years we've grown into brothers.

Soon all hopes and fears will be irrelevant.

You will find that room
that expansive room
where the gods are but projections of your pure inner light
Rest in this light,
the clear light of your own awareness.

At length, we lose everything we thought real.
Do not cling to fear or longing.  Strive
to perceive & partake in the cosmic mind.
May your mind be untroubled & clear.

Recline on your right side,
as the Buddha did at the moment of his own death.
Now your compassion is as limitless as space.

Earth collapses into water;
Water collapses into fire;
Fire collapses into air;
Air dissolves into consciousness.
Then there is an experience of piercing luminosity,
pure white light.
You may believe you perceive a new reality — it is still a projection of your mind.

From everlasting consciousness you have come, and
to eternal consciousness you shall you return.

What do you see from your former life?

Do not cling to these memories.
Do not cling to the past.
Do not cling to the ones who mourn you, though their tears call out to you.

The 42 peaceful deities emanate from your heart;
The 58 wrathful deities emanate from your brain.
Do not fear them.
Do not fear your wakefulness.
Take refuge in the Teacher;
Take refuge in the Teachings;
Take refuge in the Practice —
on the path to recognize your own mind.
Recognize the luminous essence of your own mind.
Seek the truth and practice compassion.

Tokens become icons;
icons become distractions;
distractions become obstacles to freedom & enlightenment.

These are the tokens you may recognize when you are reborn:
the bull's horn (which only Padre could play);
the computer keyboard, where you did so much compassionate work;
the water purification system you built;
the wells and reservoirs where you stored the water;
the music, the wealth of music which enriched your home;
the land, the setting sun
beyond the Texas foothills.

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