Death & Dying

Powerful end-of-life practices and compassionate care
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    What Does The Body Dream At Rest? Paid Member

    If the heat of one body restingEquals seventy lotus flowersWhat does the body dream at rest? The boy fell into the sea and it swept him awaySaid those who watched him tumble off the cliff;Of course, they could not feel what he feltAs his legs, like scissors, cut the waves. The boy entered the green fold of the seaAs water raced up his heels and thighsBared his belly and chestSalted his lips and tongue.So he sunk beyond the gaze of thoseWho stood panicked against the skyShuffling the pebbles at their feet. More »
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    In Light Of Death Paid Member

    Rick Fields, poet, writer, student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and other teachers in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1995. Currently editor-in-chief of Yoga Journal and a contributing editor to Tricycle, Fields lives in Fairfax, California, with his partner, Marcia Cohen. He is the author of several books including How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America (Shambhala) and Code of the Warrior (Tarcher). This interview was conducted by Helen Tworkov in California, in May 1997.TRICYCLE: When you were first told that you had cancer, what did you do? More »
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    The Crown Exit Paid Member

    Last winter I made a pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya for an intensive phowa course with Ayang Rinpoche. This practice, he explained, "is the quickest and most direct path for ending the cycle of rebirth." It involves learning to transfer consciousness out of the body through the crown of the head at the moment of death. Ayang Rinpoche, a Tibetan tulku of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, teaches phowa courses throughout the West and Asia. I had taken this course with him in New York City two years ago. It was extremely detailed and complex, and I had difficulty digesting it. I was also looking for an excuse to go to India. I had not returned since 1974 when I had first taken refuge vows and spent New Year's Eve at the stupa in Bodh Gaya. More »
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    Mindfulness Of Death Paid Member

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    That Body Is This Body Paid Member

    If [a monk] were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground, picked at by crows, vultures, and hawks, by dogs, hyenas, and various other creatures . . . a skeleton smeared with flesh and blood, connected with tendons . . . a fleshless skeleton smeared with blood, connected with tendons . . . a skeleton without flesh or blood, connected with tendons . . . bones detached from their tendons, scattered in all direc­ tions-here a hand bone, there a foot bone, here a shin bone, there a thigh bone, here a hip bone, there a back bone, here a rib, there a chest bone, here a shoulder bone, there a neck bone, here a jaw bone, there a tooth, here a skull . . . the bones whitened, somewhat like the color of shells . . . piled up, more than a year old . . . More »
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    Death Awareness Paid Member

    On each branch of the trees in my gardenHang clusters of fruit, swelling and ripe. In the end, not one piece will remain. My mind turns to thoughts of my death.—Seventh Dalai Lama Many meditations focus on something associated with beauty or joy or peace. Perhaps some of you may puzzle over why a contemplation would focus on death. Actually, in the teachings of the Buddha, it's a very important practice. It's part of the general importance given to impermanence, change—and death is a dramatic case of that. Reflections on anicca—that everything that arises passes away—is central to wisdom practice. More »