Jamyang Salisbury Buddhist Study Group
Jamyang Salisbury Buddhist Study Group

   Heart Advice for Death and                      Dying


         Introduction and Course                                  Summary


Welcome to the Heart Advice for Death and Dying. In our busy modern lives, we may not give much thought to death. We fear that thinking about death will take the joy out of living. But in reality, when we actively think about death and prepare for it, we find peace, fulfillment, and happiness in our current lives and our fear of death disappears.

The Tibetan Buddhist master Lama Zopa Rinpoche has given profound and accessible teachings on death and dying for many years. Recently, he asked that these teachings be made available, so that all students – beginner to advanced – have access to this most essential advice for this crucial time of transition from one life to the next.

This  course is designed to provide practical instructions for the time of death to students who are interested in learning about death and dying from the Tibetan Buddhist perspective. This course is appropriate for beginners and does not assume that those who participate in this course know anything at all about Buddhism. However, the materials covered in this course should not be considered the property of beginners alone; the teachings offered here are profound and will be of benefit to even advanced students on the path to enlightenment.

The structure of this course is as follows:

  • Death according to Buddhism
  • Developing healthy, realistic attitudes about death
  • An explanation of samsara, the state of enlightenment, and the need to remember death
  • Introduction to the nine-point meditation on death
    • The inevitability of death
    • The uncertainty of the time of death
    • What helps at the time of death
  • Methods for dealing with disturbing emotions regarding death
  • Things we can do to prepare for death
  • The practice of tong-len
  • The eight stages of the death process
  • Helping others who are dying

.              Brief Outline of Course                                      Sessions


Session 1:

  • Introduction. Death according to Buddhism; developing healthy, realistic attitudes about death.
  • Meditation: Impermanence
  • Explanation of cyclic existence, the state of enlightenment, the need to remember death; introduction to the nine-point meditation on death, the inevitability of death.
  • Meditation: The Inevitability of Death

Session 2:

  • Explanation of the uncertainty of the time of death.
  • Meditation: The Uncertainty of the Time of Death
  • Methods for dealing with disturbing emotions that can arise when we are approaching death, or when dealing with a loved one’s death: sadness, denial, fear, anger, guilt, despair and depression.
  • Explanation of the four opponent powers
  • Meditation: The Four Opponent Powers

Session 3:

  • Explanation of what helps at the time of death. Family and friends? Possessions and property? Our body? Spiritual knowledge and experience?
  • Meditation: What Helps at the Time of Death
  • Things we can do to prepare for death including: living ethically, mindfulness practice, studying spiritual teachings, taking refuge, deity practice, reciting mantras, meditations on lovingkindness, compassion, and tong-len, practicing the five powers.
  • Meditation: Lama Yeshe’s OM AH HUM meditation

Session 4:

  • Explanation of the practice of tong-len, for oneself and for others.
  • Meditation: Tong-len Using One’s Own Problem
  • Explanation of the eight stages of the death process.
  • Meditation: The Eight Stages of the Death Process

Session 5:

  • Helping others who are dying
  • Meditation: Tong-len for another person’s problem
  • What we can do to help others who are dying: Buddhists, followers of other religions, people who are non-religious; working on our own emotions; accumulating and dedicating merit.
  • Meditation: Simple Medicine Buddha practice
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