Listening to Lama Karma Drodhul chant The Liberation Through Hearing, a Tibetan text designed to be read to the dying as they transition. Our cat has been in the process of dying for some days now, so Lama Karma has been busy chanting nonstop (we have his voice on CD, along with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche chanting the 35 Buddhas, Mikyo Dorje’s Guru Yoga, and others).
I haven’t mentioned in the past that my wife and I are practicing Tibetan Buddhists, but it seems relevant here. Lately a lot of things seem to be changing, growing, dying, and so we have had ample opportunities to apply the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence, suffering, and self-less nature.
What has stood out the most to me is the way in which we handle suffering. As Suzuki Roshi has said, “The only way to endure pain is to let it be painful.” More and more I am able to experience pain as my own self, my own arms and legs, so to speak, and not something that’s been done to me, or given to me, like an unwanted gift. As Trungpa Rinpoche has written somewhere, our emotions are our very limbs. We can’t just throw them out.
What has been most fascinating is to just experience the sensations. It’s like the biggest hit, without the dullness of drugs. The hit is clarity.
So at this moment, our dear kitty is preparing for the bardo. She does not know that, I am quite certain, and we of course do not expect her mind to be stable at the moment of death (she has no training, and has had no opportunity to hear, reflect, or practice, due to the nature of her birth). In her stead, we have chanted often to her, pet her a lot, and expressed our love to her.
I have had some time to reflect on my own death (whenever that will be–soon? Later?) and really don’t have much to say about that. I suppose it will be like planning a birthday party–one I will not be attending! However, it is said that bardo beings often go to their own funerals, as they are called by the emotions and thoughts of the living. In that case, I will really need to select some good music.
Everything changes. It all moves and stays the same. Hope you are all well.