What is Dying? The Journey Begins — A Mahayana Buddhist View

Photo by Mattia Faloretti on Unsplash

Death is often a frightening subject. We are afraid to die. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we are not exposed to death. We have no knowledge or experience of dying as these days; most people die in the hospital. Several decades ago people died at home. Everyone, including young children, had the opportunity to observe a relative dying at home. This experience and knowledge abated much of the fear around dying. ~ from” Barry Kerzin’s FaceBook page.

How does one speak about Dying and Death in the Western world? Mostly with fear and dread from what I have learned during my life.

Are fear and dread good ways of dealing with what we all must go through? I think not. Our fear of death causes us much suffering here in the West. I know I have in the past sustained emotional pain when my loved ones passed. And there have been quite a few in the last few years. Too many if I allow my heart to speak.

Therefore, it is time to learn more about death and the fear of dying from the Mahayana Buddhist viewpoint. My need to learn coincided with one of my friends Barry Kerzin’s posts.

A doctor, a monk, a teacher, a lazy man. All of these things, yet none. ~ Dr. Barry Kerzin.

Dr. Kerzin wrote posts starting in late February regarding The Eight Stages of Death. The posts were detailed and yet understandable.

The timeliness strikes me. And is not lost on me. It is time to understand deeper. It is time to drop the illusion.

Over the next weeks, I will be writing about Death from the Mahayana perspective and delve deeper into the Eight Stages of Dying. Being a person who likes to research and explore a topic, especially one so dear, like this one, there will be quite a few posts.


May this post be of benefit to all sentient beings.

 

 

What Kind of Mind? ~ Lama Thubten Yeshe

When you check your mind, do not rationalize or push. Relax. Do not be upset when problems arise. Just be aware of them and where they come from; know their root. Introduce the problem to yourself: “Here is this kind of problem. How has it become a problem? What kind of mind feels that it’s a problem?” When you check thoroughly, the problem will automatically disappear. That’s so simple, isn’t it? ~  – Lama Thubten Yeshe

Thubten Yeshe

Image via Wikipedia

, “Your Mind is Your Religion” 

 

In training the mind, perspective is of crucial importance.

In training the mind, perspective is of crucial importance. We cannot expect to transform our minds in a few minutes or even a few weeks, thinking, perhaps, that the blessings of an enlightened individual will enable us to obtain immediate results. Such an attitude is not realistic. It takes a long time, sometimes years or even decades; but if we persevere, there is no doubt we will make progress. ~ His Holiness. The 14th Dalai Lama

Mirrors and Us….

I am posted this because it has touched on something Nancy (Spirit Lights The Way) & I have commented on recently…maybe it will help you too? 🙂 It is from Tricycle, so feel free to go to their website for more information on this ….

“Pamela Gayle White, from Week 4 of the ongoing Tricycle Retreat, “Letting Go” that she is leading along with Khedrub Zangmo,

Something that has been very helpful for me is trying to understand just how subjective my own interpretation of sticky situations and difficult relationships can be. I have a story to illustrate this.

Once, during my first retreat with a group of people, there was a woman in our retreat center that most of the rest of us found irritating. We didn’t want to be irritated by her, for we were all trying to be good Buddhists, budding bodhisattvas. It bothered us that she was pushing our buttons continuously because that’s not how we saw ourselves—as ordinary neurotic people.

Of course, we talked about it, about her, as people do. Then one day four of us got together in one of the girls rooms and decided that each of us was going to write down what exactly it was about this woman, Therese, that bothered us so very much. We each got a piece of paper and a pen and were very happy to have a little project to work on. This was at lunch time so we weren’t breaking any retreat rules. We all sat down and wrote our pieces and then compared them. The result was a revelation.

One of the girls, who couldn’t throw anything away, said “Therese, she’s just such a packrat! She’s got this thing about grasping where she just can’t let go. It bothers me, I find it so irritating.” Then, the oldest among us had written, “Therese is just so old. She really doesn’t catch on very fast.” It was clearly about her own fears of getting older. Then the next of us shared that she had written “Therese, y’know, she just isn’t very swift.” This was the person who was having the hardest time learning the practices. Then, the fourth person, me, who has long been working with my natural tendency of being quite irritable, had written, “She’s just so irritable! There’s always this anger in her that is just waiting to flare up!”

We looked at each other and could see the problem wasn’t Therese at all. It was such a lesson.

Retreat isn’t just about practice, it’s also about these fabulous lessons that we learn about ourselves and others. Therese was a mirror that taught all of us. She taught me to ask, whenever I am having a difficult experience with someone, “what it is in me that can’t stand the mirror?”

*names were changed to protect the innocent

 

The Illusory Nature of Phenomena

When we look around us, we can see that nothing exists in isolation, which is another way of saying that everything is interdependent. Everything depends upon an infinite number of causes and conditions to come into being, arise, and fall away moment by moment. Because they are interdependent, things don’t possess a true existence of their own. For instance, how could we separate a flower from the many causes and conditions that produce it —water, soil, sun, air, seed, and so forth? Can we find a flower that exists independently from these causes and conditions? Everything is so intricately connected, it is hard to point to where one thing starts and another ends. This is what is meant by the illusory or empty nature of phenomena.

Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche, “The Theater of Reflection”