Horizon at Sandy Point

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

When we die

“We are stardust; we are golden…” sang Joni Mitchell of the “child of god” heading to Woodstock, in her 1970 anthem

The quantum theory of consciousness now proposes
That the conscious energy of our minds
What we call the soul
Is unextinguished – and liberated - when the body dies.
Scientists Hameroff and Penrose present the hypothesis
That death is a threshold
That there is a quantum soul that exists after a body dies.
The immortal soul, they say, returns to the unconscious universe
When it is no longer sparking and singing in the cells of a living brain.

This certainty underlies the traditional practice
Encoded in the Tibetan Book of the Dead
Which is a text for guiding souls transiting from one plane of existence to others:
Prayer poetry for the liberation of souls
recited by dedicated mediators, meditating on their behalf.

The prayers gather momentum in the days before and immediately after death.
If death is unexpected, recite the passages for the “liberation by hearing” in the days that follow:
For hearing continues beyond the body.

O child of the universe, do not be afraid
For at the moment of dying, the pure heart
Is liberated to the great unconscious
What some call heaven
Others purgatory
And science calls the universe.

O child of the universe, do not fear
The compassionate ones
Who appear to help you on your way
Assembling at the time of your passing:
Your liberation is at hand
Abandon all thoughts of fear and terror
Recognise what you see now
Are projections of your own mind:
The light and the dark
Your wisdom and insecurity
Satisfactions, achievements, and your yearnings.

After death, the Tibetans claim, hearing is the sense retained
By the departing and wandering soul.
Hearing opens the way to the Great Liberation.
Hear and do not fear, O child of the universe:
The light beings of wisdom are benevolent;
The light beings of wrath and envy are not far behind.
Recognize all as projections of your own mind.
Stay relaxed in a state free from thinking.
At any moment, your liberation is possible
Just recognize the play of your own mind
In the luminous light path of pure wisdom
Ignoring the wrathful deities and contradictory manifestations;
The seductive and sensuous, the beautiful or bizarre;
Recognize all as projections of your own self,
And be instantaneously liberated.

It’s impossible not to be liberated, according to the Tibetan Book,
To the Pure Realm of Space:
In this state, after life in a physical body
The mind becomes astonishingly infinitely clear
Just hear, without disbelieving, to be liberated.

O child of the universe,
Liberation is at hand
When you realize that all life is Maya, an illusory state.
Moksha - liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth - is freedom
From ego-consciousness and karma.

O child of the Universe
Recognise who you are
Your true nature is not to be reborn.

None of this is consolation for loved ones left behind.
We too have a duty to the dying:
O child of the universe, do not be sad, do not weep
Do not cling to the departing lover
Do not hold her back with tears and pleading
Do not delay him with children or responsibilities
Sing them on their way with the reminder that
Liberation to the universe is certain.


The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Shambala Pocket Classics

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