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December 12th, 2006

The Awakening Mind at Death

I 'luv this guy!  Can I be the next reincarnate?  :)
... it is important to develop an awareness of death and to become familiar with ways to cope with the dissolution of the mind right from the time of our youth.  We can do this by rehearsing it through visualization.  Then, instead of being afraid of death, we may feel a sense of excitement about it.  We may feel that having made preparations for so many years, we should be able to meet the challenge of death effectively. 

Once you have an experience of the deeper subtle mind in meditation, you can actually control your death.* ... I believe that the most important practice at the time of death is the awakening of the mind.**  ... I will find it easiest to remember the awakening mind when I die.  That is the mind I really feel close to.  Of course, by meditating on death, we also prepare ourselves for it, so we no longer need to worry about it.  Although I am still not ready to face my actual death, I sometimes wonder how I will cope when actually faced with it.  I am determined that if I live longer I will be able to accomplish much more.  My will to live is equal to my excitement about facing death. (28-29)
from The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace by HH the Dalai Lama (XIV).  I picked up this book after my "angst" last week about death and checked out a few more after fortifiedi raised some questions about Buddhism the other day.  I hope people don't take this post as evangelical -- it's just my one of my obsessions.  It reminds me of when Annebelle said she found Buddhism "okay" except for the 'Enlightenment part'.  I tend to agree with her now; I need answers to things I obsess over -- or I should say, things that I worry about --, and as a pragmatist I expect there to be something that gets me through daily life.  A religion, or a lack thereof, that says there's something better in another life after enlightenment doesn't satisfy me, nor does aetheistic nihilism saying there is nothing better.  Ignoring death doesn't work for me.  So when the Dalai Lama suggests that I mediate on death, ... that is something I can do.

I found a diagram in The Three Pure Land Sutras that simplifies Buddhahood to geometric symmetry, and I liked it so much that I had to share.  Bascially this illustrates how Satanists and people who want more suffering simply reverse the arrows and pratice the Ignoble Eightfold Path that leads away from Nirvana.  Very simple; and Buddhism doesn't hide this possibility from people, although it wouldn't be a stretch for me to say that Buddhist teachers call that direction malpractice.  I also like this diagram because Nirvana is a point of convergence from either the awakening minds in "our" land and the Buddha(s) in the Pure Land.  I collaspe onto Nirvana; afterwards, transcendence expands.  ... and I fail to even find words that describe what the diagram is describing :)

Pure Land

LJ keeps scaling any uploaded image so much that you can't read the labels!  :(  Anyone know why?!  ...  I've tried gif, jpeg, and png and overscanning the image at higher resolutions so you guys can see it but gave up; and just uploaded it to the University's server.  Later a coworker showed me how the image below is a thumbnail!  Why didn't LJ tell me this?!

Pure Land

* by "control", I believe the Dalai Lama means change our mental and physical reactions -- our state of being -- during the final moments of dying, even when death comes as an accident.  I do not believe he means meditation can change the time or place of our deaths.  Silly control freaks ...

** "the awakening mind" is :
... the intention to achieve Buddhahood in order to free all beings in the universe from suffering.  ... We have to cultivate it through meditation and repeated and prolonged habituation.  In order to be able to sustain meditation on the awakening mind, we need first to appreciate the benefits of its cultivation.  ... it is based on investigating whether the sufferings of infinite sentient beings can be eliminated and, if so, determining the means for doing so. ... When we cultivate the noble awakening mind wishing to achieve enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings augmented by the knowledge that enlightenment can be achieved, it becomes a wonderful and courageous mind. (2, 5)