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Wisdom Spotlight - Issue #12 - Preparing to Die, Learning to Live

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Wisdom Spotlight

April 11 · Issue #12 · View online

A monthly spotlight on Dharma education and practice resources from Samye Institute.


Senior Lama Teachings Series 5: Preparing to Die, Learning to Live

Dear Student,
In “Preparing to Die, Learning to Live,” Tulku Migmar discusses how preparing to die is fundamentally about how we live. When we live with aims like accumulation of wealth, and we have a lot of attachments, facing death can be quite difficult. Death comes for everyone—anyone who is born will die. And the only thing that we bring with us is our Dharma practice.  
Tulku-la tells the story of a practitioner who spoke to Dromtönpa, a lineage-holder of Atisha, and told him he was engaged in circumambulation of a sacred place. “That’s great,” said Dromtönpa, “but wouldn’t it be better if you practiced the Dharma?” The practitioner went away, and studied sutras.  Then he spoke to Dromtönpa again, and told him he was studying sutras. “That’s great,” he said, “but wouldn’t it be better if you practiced the Dharma?” When finally he spoke to Dromtömpa again, and told him he was meditating, and was given the same answer again, he asked: “If none of these things is sufficient, what should I do?” Dromtönpa said he should give up attachment to this life. Only that brings freedom.
In essence, Tulku-la says, consciousness of our impending death is a spur to our practice. How we live is how we prepare for death. Practice, and our whole life, can be understood as preparation for dying. In the beginning, the recollection of death and impermanence is the cause for entering the path; in the middle, it is the motivation for our dharma practice; and in the end it is what will help us to realize selflessness or emptiness. We can do practices on behalf of others, but when someone’s time is truly up, there is only so much we can do. So Tulku-la encourages us, as Dromtönpa did, to give up our attachments to this life and practice well. He draws for this Dharma talk on (and concludes by reciting) The Noble Sutra Teaching the Eleven Perceptions, which include the perception of non-attachment, the perception of love for all beings, the perception of fearlessness, and the perception of understanding nirvana as peace.
Reflection Text: The Noble Sutra Teaching the Eleven Perceptions
Click the links below to download a copy of The Noble Sutra on Teaching the Eleven Perceptions. Thank you to our translators at Lhasey Lotsawa for providing the translation of this important Sutra.
You can find a recording of the teaching by clicking here.
Wisdom Spotlight
If you are inspired to explore this topic further, you can check out the links below:
Conversation: Tulku Migmar on the Bardo
Below are relevant units from the Samye Course on Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying. The course is free and only requires registration.
Conversation with Phakchok Rinpoche on Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying
Conversation: How We Live is How We Die
Conversation: Preparing For Our Own Death
Latest Wisdom Blogs
Samye Institute posts regular wisdom blogs, covering various aspects of Buddhist practice, ritual and education. Here’s what we posted in the last month.
The Paramita of Patience and Caring For People with Dementia
Maintaining Meditation Discipline
Having Little Jealousy
Repaying Debts on Time and Not Cheating With Weights and Measures
Educational Resources on Samye Institute
For those of you who want to learn in more detail, we have the following courses available on our platform. Each course is presented in a structured way and also has access to forums and instructor support.
About Samye Institute
Do you know that we’ve published over 500 pieces of content since our inception? On SamyeInstitute.org we offer a large archive of audio, video, and written teachings including many teachings directly from Phakchok Rinpoche.
All of these articles include key points and many offer reflection exercises or contemplations. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to or watch these teachings before, we hope that you will take the time to explore them.
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