|A Commentary on Buddhism
|by the Webmaster of
commentary is based on the video,
The Tibetan Book of the Dead,
narrated by Leonard Cohen.
on Earth seems stable and solid, nothing here is permanent. Like
water, snow and ice, life is always shifting and changing
form. All existence is one kind of state or another. This
means living in an atmosphere of uncertainty - moving
without a place to rest.
In this world, we
pass through the spiritual state of physical existence. Here,
we want to make something lasting and secure, but no one
has been able to accomplish this. Our life is always
in the hands of death. At death, our experience is completely
out of our control. Our experience is completely naked.
What is the best
path through this spiritual state? It is a question of waking
up right now, looking at our own mind. Look at it when
it is calm and still and when it is running wild. This is
what Buddha did and what he taught. This is what Jesus meant
when he said, "The Kingdom of God is within you."
Soon we all will
die. All our hopes and fears will be irrelevant.
Out of luminous continuity
of existence, which has no origin and which has never died,
human beings project all the images of life and death, terror
and joy, demons and gods. These images become our complete
reality. We submit without thinking to their dance. In all
the movements to this dance, we project our greatest fears
on death and we make every effort to ignore it.
Illusions are as
various as the moon reflecting on a rippling sea. Beings
become easily caught in the net of confused pain. We must
develop compassion as boundless as the sky so that all may
rest in the clear light of our own awareness.
At death, we lose
everything we thought was real. Unless we can let go of
all the things we cherished in our life we are terrified.
We cannot stop struggling to hold on to our old life. All
our fear and yearning will drag us into yet another painful
We are always wandering
through transitional spiritual states. Difficulty in leaving
behind our old life can cause us to wander in painful uncertainty.
The spiritual state
of dying lasts from the beginning of the body's physical
collapse until the body and consciousness separate.
While we are living,
the elements of Earth, water, fire and air together support
and condition our consciousness. Death occurs when this
is no longer the case. Now, without the screens and filters
of daily life, at this time, mind itself can be seen directly.
In the spiritual state of dying, it is important to recognize
our own true nature.
At death, there is
an experience of piercing luminosity, pure white light,
the clear radiance that rises directly from our own basic
nature. Now, there is no darkness, no separation, no
direction and no shape, only brilliant light. This
boundless sparkling radiance is mind, free from the shadows
of birth and death - free from any boundaries
of any kind.
Now all pervasive
light engulfs us completely. All of space is dissolved
into pure light. This radiance is the mind of God, the mind
of all the awakened ones. Recognizing this is all that is
necessary for liberation from birth and rebirth. If
we do not recognize our divine nature, a dreamless sleep
In three days time,
all emotions will be vivid and intense. Though it seems
we are entering into a new reality, it is still the reality
of our own mind.
Wandering back to
the familiar sites and people of our old life, our own mind
will arise before us in unfamiliar ways. We may not
know if we are alive or dead. Even so, we may see our family
crying. We must leave our former life behind if we
are to progress.
If the we are unable
to recognize the luminosity of mind itself, our experience
now takes the shape of random imagery of our former life. We
see our friends and relatives calling out to us and they
cannot hear our replies. Death has cut us off from them
and sorrow strikes our heart. We see our family and relatives
crying. We can see our bed but we are no longer the
one lying there. Instead, there is a corpse.
Soon we will experience
the intense presence of our own emotional states as peaceful
and raging light forms. Now, we will meet our mind in the
form of projections which seem vivid and entirely real. Now
we will see penetrating blue light shining all around us. This
is the essence of consciousness, God (Buddha). The
wisdom of God is like a mirror reflecting everything. God
is the form of consciousness in its complete purity. This
wisdom is inseparable from our own heart. But also we will
see a diffused white light which we must avoid if we are
to achieve liberation. If we follow the allure of the soft
white light, we will find ourselves ensnared in the temporary
pleasures of being born as a god, living in Lordly ignorance
of the passage of time and subject to unexpected death.
If this path is taken,
the wisdom of our very heart and mind takes the form of
spiritual entities. There will be peaceful spiritual entities
that emanate from our heart and wrathful ones that emerge
from our brain.
They will appear
one by one and then all together. The peaceful spiritual
entities are complete and immovable. If we cannot bear to
enter their vast benevolent space, if we cannot let go of
self-centeredness and fear, these deities will become terrifying
wrathful ones. If we recognize them as an expression
of our own mind, they are the unsparing face of wakefulness.
The wrathful forms
emerging from the brain appear before us actually and clearly
as if they were real in their own right. The terror and
anger we feel are our own efforts to evade from being completely
awake. We wander uncertainly in the landscape of our own
mind. If we recognize this as our own projections,
liberation is instantaneous.
These wrathful forms
are the presence of our innate wisdom, the vivid form of
our own wakefulness. We must recognize them as a reflection
of our own mind. Recognition and liberation are simultaneous.
All of us feel sparks
of anger, flickers of passion, and twinges of jealousy during
brief moments. From these seeds, we grow to become
the jealous person. We say "this is what I am"
and we act accordingly. But these are just our masks and
we forget that we are wearing them. We run from the masks
that others wear. The wrathful spiritual entities are
our own mind and it is impossible to run away from them.
They are the sharpness of our own clarity. They are all
in our mind.
Then altogether and
all at once, the peaceful and wrathful spiritual entities
come before us. If we do not recognize them as our own projections,
then they transform into the terrifying image of the Lord
of Death. This too is our own projection. But if we don't
accept that, our fear and turmoil force us to wander on
in terror to the spiritual state of rebirth. We leave the
spiritual state of the nature of mind. Again we are lost
and wandering, so now we seek to end our suffering by being
born into a solid and familiar place.
Now in the spiritual
state of rebirth, all our senses have become extremely acute. Our
consciousness is like a body without substance. In this
body, we can, by a mere thought, travel to anywhere. As
if we have miraculous powers, we can pass through mountains
and circle the universe. We can enter anywhere but nowhere
can we rest.
In the pain of our
endless wandering, the thought of being born now promises
great relief. We can still see our family, but we no longer
know we are with them. We are driven on the winds of hope
and fear like a leaf that is carried in the wind.
If we are still unable
to recognize our own nature, our anger, lust and confusion
become ever more intense, ever more solid. They at last
appear to us as entire realms where we may stop and dwell.
The image of our former body becomes faint and the image
of our future body becomes clear. Any birth seems better
than his current pain.
Since everyone is
caught in these spiritual states of suffering, what can
we do? People make hell realms out of their own anger. They
make worlds out of passion. We project our emotional
states and believe it is the real world. But no matter
what, everyone longs for compassion. Everyone wishes to
be awake. The best thing is to develop genuine compassion
for all living things and for ourselves too. If we do not
truly care for others we cannot know our own mind. We
can have lofty insights and pure impulses, but then return
to our old habits without even noticing it. We must work
all the time to open our hearts and look for the truth.
Otherwise there is neither understanding nor a purpose for
understanding. Also, as life goes by, it is a good
idea to keep your sense of humor.
We are now coming
to the end of our journey. As we reach the end of the spiritual
state of rebirth, the features of the world we are to enter
will become very clear to us. If we pay attention now, we
will find our way to a favorable rebirth.
We are now on the
path to rebirth. We must choose carefully where we are to
be born. In all the possibilities that are present before
us, we must choose our new life. If we choose a good
human birth in a good place, we can continue on the path
of recognizing our own mind. Even though we are desperate
for a home, a dark cave in a forest can lead to a birth
in the animal realm. If we are consumed by yearning,
the realm of hungry ghosts can become a never-ending realm
of hunger and thirst for us. Rage, bitterness, and
anger open all the images of hell. It is best to avoid
the extremes of pleasure or pain when selecting a new birth.
It is best to be born where we can still recognize the luminous
essence of our own mind.
We will not remember
much of our journey when we are born again. It will be like
starting out new. Though death is always something to be
mourned, being born is not something to be celebrated. There
is an old saying: "When we are born, we cry, but the
whole world is overjoyed. When we die, the world cries
and we can become overjoyed when we find the great liberation."