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Packed and Prepared for No matter’s Subsequent

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche affords a recent educating on phowa observe and the way navigating the varied transitions in our lives, together with the very small ones, lays a basis for navigating the a lot larger ones after they come.

Two disjoined legs walking.

Illustration by Danai Tsouloufa.

In essentially the most primary sense, phowa, as practiced in Tibetan Bön Buddhism, facilities on the transference of consciousness in the mean time of demise. These teachings can put together us to venture our consciousness instantly right into a pure realm on the time of demise, growing our likelihood for liberation in a single lifetime. The time of our demise could really feel distant and unconnected from our day-to-day actuality, however phowa begins now, on this realm of existence. Every single day, we bear a seemingly infinite parade of transitions, from the mundane—in the future, one week, or one yr into the subsequent—to main life transitions that may be rather more troublesome to regulate to. By recognizing every transition—recognizing that we now have a selection, changing into conscious, after which letting go of our attachment—we additionally put together ourselves for the good transition on the time of demise.

My trainer Yongdzin Rinpoche as soon as stated to me that the aim of training phowa is to “be packed and prepared” when the good second of our passing approaches. Being packed and prepared means simply as we’re, not bringing something with us. Whether or not we’re crossing to the opposite aspect of this life or just passing from one section of life to a different, we endeavor to enter empty-handed. Tibetan Bön Buddhist teachings inform us that transitions themselves—even the good transition on the finish of this life—usually are not the reason for struggling; it’s our insistence on attempting to take issues with us that’s the issue. We are able to’t take something, and in attempting to take action we disturb our minds. So, our observe is to work with ourselves and that sense of attachment, as a result of all of us discover one thing—often many issues—to turn into connected to.

We should listen and be prepared to vary.

If you walked into the room the place you at the moment are sitting, on the very second of coming into, how absolutely did you stroll in? How aware have been you as you crossed the edge? How a lot of your “stuff”—your tales, plans, replayed conversations, the lingering discomfort in your thoughts and feelings—did you herald with you? Each second of transition is a chance to observe consciousness and readability, to find out about ourselves, to see the methods we turn into caught, and to let go. Every time we observe this, we are able to replicate somewhat extra and be open to seeing our routine patterns. We should listen and be prepared to vary. And if we discover ourselves resisting change, we are able to pray that we’ll change: “I do know I want to vary. Could I alter. Give me the power to vary.”

Completely different transitions problem our attachments in numerous methods. Simply going from in the future to a different—Friday into Saturday—is just not so exhausting for many of us. However what about going from one season to a different, one yr to a different, one job to a different, one relationship to a different? Every of those transitions turns into more durable as our attachments and expectations round them enhance. Maybe you’re used to having the ability to rise up and run or jog every day. There could come a time when that is now not doable, and you could neglect about jogging. That form of change might be very troublesome to adapt to. Possibly you’ve at all times had one form of relationship together with your dad and mom, however now it’s turn into one other form of relationship. Now, as an alternative of gathering for barbecues or events, possibly you go to them in a hospital or nursing house and maintain their palms. It’s a change. You aren’t used to it. It’s exhausting to transition to the brand new section of life if you happen to’re nonetheless connected to the earlier one.

As a result of larger transitions are harder, we should deal with our skill to let go now. If you happen to have a look at this second of your life, proper now, what number of issues might you let go of? Consider one factor at this second that you’re connected to, that you simply’re figuring out with, that you’re holding onto, that causes ache. Maybe you may have a troublesome relationship with somebody in your life due to a grudge you’re holding onto, or maybe your attachment to the connection itself is holding you again. Now examine how exhausting it might be to let go of that attachment with the letting go you’ll have to do on the time of your demise. Which might you favor, dying or letting go of that attachment? There’s no query, proper? You’ll let go of that attachment. So why not simply go forward and do it?

With consciousness, we are able to see that once we battle with a transition, it has one thing to do with an attachment, whether or not to an id or to one thing exterior. If you happen to let that one factor go, after which one other factor and one other and one other, then all of the smaller issues you may let go of will make it easier to to be free. Every act of letting go advantages you, making it simpler to let go of the more durable issues that can come alongside the best way. If we don’t apply ourselves to those alternatives to let go, if we are able to’t deal with the little issues that come alongside, then we’re sure to have a more durable time with the massive issues.

Letting go is like cleansing your storage or your closet. How many people have cleaned our closets and located stuff in there that we weren’t utilizing? It is a easy alternative to observe letting go. If you open your closet and see one thing you place in there 5 years in the past that you simply haven’t used, haven’t even touched, go forward and snatch it and let that one factor go! Energetically, these small acts of letting go could make a big effect. Even simply deleting photographs out of your cellphone—a easy act of choosing after which deleting—can lighten our attachments. Are you aware somebody who has an excessive amount of stuff, whose home has nearly no area for folks to maneuver, not to mention any sense of spaciousness? Energetically, that’s not good for us. In a monastery, the monks clear rather a lot. Once they clear the gompa, shine the flooring, clear the shrine, it’s seen as a purification. Each a shrine and a closet are simpler to wash than the chakras. If you happen to can’t clear your central channel, at the least open your closet and clear a few of these blockages.

There are numerous methods to enter the subsequent second. Ceremonially, socially, we do numerous issues which might be symbolic. Within the Tibetan custom, we carry out plenty of huge ceremonies on the finish of the yr. The tip of the yr is a time for clearing the outdated yr, so we do purification and rituals. We increase a prayer flag on the primary day of the brand new yr, symbolically elevating all of the forces of elemental energies. In our every day lives, the precept is identical. We are able to discover a strategy to deliver the perfect out of every new area, new time, new objective, new mission, new starting, new section of life, new second. It doesn’t should be the top of the yr. Each morning might be like this. Within the Tibetan custom, daily we make an providing of the recent water on the altar. That is an outdated custom, and these days I’ve been feeling a powerful connection to it. Bringing one thing recent to the shrine, my sense of the day forward feels very totally different. That sacredness, that freshness, that sense of connection, of providing, that sense of not forgetting the refuge or supply, connecting there to begin my day, may be very highly effective.

Typically, at occasions of transition, we behave with out consciousness. We behave with situation, with ache, with worry. We really feel we don’t have a selection. Simply realizing we do have a selection could make all of the distinction. The selection comes once we can take time to be nonetheless, silent, spacious. We observe not doing, not saying, not considering (not considering is more durable, however at the least not doing and never saying). Then, as soon as we now have calmed down, we discover a new area from which we can do and say and suppose, and what we do and what we are saying is likely to be totally different from what we initially would have stated or executed. One factor that we wish to have the ability to see clearly and to say to ourselves is, “If it’s not good, I cannot make it worse.” Go away it as it’s.

We’ve so many alternatives to bear in mind. Take into consideration approaching it this fashion: I’m going to deal with this little transition properly so I can deal with the subsequent, more durable one even higher. Every time we make these little transitions and be happy, really feel good, the world opens up for us. Moments, locations, places, adjustments, transitions occur on a regular basis in life. These are all alternatives to domesticate and observe to raised help the transition of phowa observe in the mean time of demise. Past simply getting ready us for the massive transition on the finish of life, bringing this mindset into occasions of transition could make our lives simpler, extra productive. Ultimately, whether or not doing the phowa observe or strolling from one room into the subsequent, it’s about how clearly we enter, how clearly we go to the subsequent day, how clearly we go to the subsequent factor. Each entrance is attention-grabbing if we strategy it with readability.


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