Preparing for Death
The Buddhist tradition has a wealth of resources to help prepare for the transition beyond this life. One of the first steps we can take is to learn about what we and our loved ones will face as we make this journey. As an authentic resource on this topic, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has recommended Tsele Natsok Rangdrol’s The Mirror of Mindfulness, introduction to process of death, the intermediate state, and rebirth.
You may consult the Liberation Upon Hearing text from our lineage. The great master Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche composed an essential, easy-to-follow manual based upon Chokgyur Lingpa’s treasure teachings, which you can read and download here.
As the Liberation Upon Hearing text above instructs, it is beneficial to include various sacred substances as part of the funeral ceremonies. You can purchase a set produced according to our lineage here.
One of the most beneficial actions we can take for the sake of loved ones who going through the process of dying is to sponsor prayers and make offerings on their behalf. Gomde California maintains a prayer list for those who are ill, dying, or deceased, which you can join by visiting Prayer Sponsorship page.
You may also wish to request the monks of Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery and the nuns of Nagi Gompa in Nepal to perform practices and make prayers for them. Monlam.org has been developed under the guidance of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche to connect our community members with the ordained Sangha in Nepal, so that we can further expand our merit through the sponsorship of Dharma practice, and dedicate this practice to our loved ones.
Typically, prayers that remove obstacles and support health are sponsored for the sick. On monlam.org, you might sponsor the prayers under the heading Medicine Buddha Puja, 21 Taras Practice, or any of the Overcoming Obstacles pujas.
Special rituals are performed for those in the process of death, and who have recently passed beyond this life. On monlam.org, you can sponsor the Kunzang Tuktig Puja, found under the Bardo, Dying, Rebirth section. You may also request Five Prayers to Benefit the Living & the Dead, a series of revered aspirations for rebirth in the pure realms of the buddhas.
Spiritual Care Directive
So many of us live far from established monastic communities and spiritual teachers, and so lack a ready-made support for dying according to the Buddhist tradition. A Spiritual Care Directive aids us in planning for our loved ones to care for us when this time does come, according to our personal wishes. Developing and sharing a such a directive has the potential to generate precious merit—it is an of kindness for both ourselves and those who will care for us.
Below you will find a downloadable Spiritual Care Directive, designed to encourage practitioners to write down their Dharma wishes for the time of dying.
Gomde California wishes this process to be as fruitful as possible for you and your loved ones. Rhonda LoPresti can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to help you navigate the wealth of resources available, whether through prayer sponsorship, offerings, or developing a Spiritual Care Directive.