Death: Transforming Obstacle into Opportunity

“If we are duly prepared, I can promise that the moment of death will be an experience of rejoicing. If we are not prepared, it will surely be a time of fear and regret.”

— Anyen Rinpoche

Excerpted from Preparing to Die: Practical Advice and Spiritual Wisdom from the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition

Death is one of the most precious experiences in life. It is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The habits (karma) that brought us into this life are exhausted, leaving a temporarily clean slate, and the habits that will propel us into our next life have not yet crystallized. This leaves us in a unique “no man’s land,” a netherworld the Tibetans call “bardo,” where all kinds of miraculous possibilities can materialize.1 At this special time, with the help of skillful friends, we can make rapid spiritual progress and directly influence where we will take rebirth. We can even attain enlightenment. 

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