From the Buddhist Contemplative Care for End-of-Life Speakers Series
Learn about the fascinating life, death and rebirth process, or bardos, from the Vajrayana Buddhist perspective. Doug Duncan Sensei and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei were guest speakers at the Buddhist Contemplative Care for End of Life Speakers Series on February 6th, 2021. This two-hour lecture shares the Tibetan Buddhist view of the death process, how to support others going through it, and how to work with it as we go through it ourselves.
Buddhism is well known for its intricate mapping of consciousness and its manifestations. In this philosophical paradigm, life, death and rebirth are regarded as processes, not events.
Tibetan Buddhism observes these processes as six primary “Bardos” (Tibetan for “gap”). Three of these are Living Bardos (life, meditation, sleeping) and three are Death Bardos (dying, moment of death, and moving towards the next rebirth). Bardos often describe the journey that we make after death, before taking a new birth, though they can also refer to any transformation in life and death.
Helping Ourselves and Others Stay Present with the Universal Death Process
In the Vajrayana tradition in Western countries, caregiving for dying persons includes support from the community of practitioners, who say mantras considered helpful for this Bardo transition. Teachers can provide Bardo prayers for a clear mind and a good rebirth. Practically speaking this includes just staying present and observing the body through the shutting down of functions. We allow the body to follow the natural, universal death process. (Scroll down for the free infographic: What happens to Consciousness During the Death Process?)
Experiential exercise featured in the talk: Buddhism’s Nine-Point Meditation on Death and Dying. We share this example of one Buddhist contemplative practice that helps us radically transform our relationship to death, and so live with greater ease and happiness.