Do They Really Exist?

The successive existences in a series of rebirths are not like the pearls in a pearl necklace, held together by a string, the ‘soul,’ which passes through all the pearls; rather they are like dice piled one on top of the other. Each die is separate, but it supports the one above it, with which it is functionally connected. Between the dice there is no identity, but conditionality.


I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was twenty-six. Religion offered nothing to the point. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilize the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered reincarnation . . . time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. . . . I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us.


'If some fool tells you the soul perishes like the body and that which dies never returns, tell him the flower perishes but the seed remains and lies before us as the secret of life everlasting.' Kahlil Gibran

The basis on which Buddhist[s] accept the concept of rebirth is principally the continuity of consciousness . . . If you trace our present mind or consciousness back, then you will find that you are tracing the origin of the continuity of mind into an infinite dimension; it is, as you will see, beginningless.

Therefore there must be successive rebirths that allow that continuum of mind to be there.


As a Buddhist, I view death as a normal process, a reality that I accept will occur as long as I remain in this earthly existence. Knowing that I cannot escape it, I see no point in worrying about it. I tend to think of death as being like changing your clothes when they are old and worn out, rather than as some final end. Yet death is unpredictable: We do not know when or how it will take place. So it is only sensible to take certain precautions before it actually happens.


Sometimes I tease people and ask: “What makes you so adamant that there’s no life after death? What proof do you have? What if you found there was a life after this one, having died denying its existence?”

Those of us who undertake a spiritual discipline—of meditation, for example—come to discover many things about our own minds that we did not know before. For as our minds open more and more to the extraordinary, vast, and hitherto unsuspected existence of the nature of mind, we begin to glimpse a completely different dimension, one in which all of our assumptions about our identity and reality, which we thought we knew so well, start to dissolve, and in which the possibility of lives other than this one becomes at least likely. We begin to understand that everything we are being told by the masters about life and death, and life after death, is real.

The King Milinda once asked the Buddhist sage Nagasena: “When someone is reborn, is he the same as the one who just died, or is he different?”

Nagasena replied: “He is neither the same nor different. . . . Tell me, if a man were to light a lamp, could it provide light the whole night long?”


“Is the flame then which burns in the first watch of the night the same as the one that burns in the second . . . or the last?”


“Does that mean there is one lamp in the first watch of the night, another in the second, and another in the third?”

“No, it’s because of that one lamp that the light shines all night.”

“Rebirth is much the same: One phenomenon arises and another stops, simultaneously. So the first act of consciousness in the new existence is neither the same as the last act of consciousness in the previous existence, nor is it different.”

On that momentous night when Buddha attained enlightenment, it is said that he went through several different stages of awakening. In the first, with his mind “collected and purified, without blemish, free of defilements, grown soft, workable, fixed and immovable,” he turned his attention to the recollection of his previous lives. This is what he tells us of that experience:

I remembered many, many former existences I had passed through: one, two births, three, four, five . . . fifty, one hundred . . . a hundred thousand, in various world-periods. I knew everything about these various births: where they had taken place, what my name had been, which family I had been born into, and what I had done. I lived through again the good and bad fortune of each life and my death in each life, and came to life again and again. In this way I recalled innumerable previous existences with their exact characteristic features and circumstances. This knowledge I gained in the first watch of the night.

From a Buddhist point of view, the actual experience of death is very important. Although how or where we will be reborn is generally dependent on karmic forces, our state of mind at the time of death can influence the quality of our next rebirth. So at the moment of death, in spite of the great variety of karmas we have accumulated, if we make a special effort to generate a virtuous state of mind, we may strengthen and activate a virtuous karma, and so bring about a happy rebirth.


If all we know of mind is the aspect of mind that dissolves when we die, we will be left with no idea of what continues, no knowledge of the new dimension of the deeper reality of the nature of mind. So it is vital for us all to familiarize ourselves with the nature of mind while we are still alive. Only then will we be prepared for the time when it reveals itself spontaneously and powerfully at the moment of death; be able to recognize it “as naturally,” the teachings say, “as a child running into its mother’s lap”; and by remaining in that state, finally be liberated.

According to the wisdom of Buddha, we can actually use our lives to prepare for death. We do not have to wait for the painful death of someone close to us or the shock of terminal illness to force us to look at our lives. Nor are we condemned to go out empty-handed at death to meet the unknown. We can begin, here and now, to find meaning in our lives. We can make of every moment an opportunity to change and to prepare—wholeheartedly, precisely, and with peace of mind—for death and eternity.

Men come and they go and they trot and they dance, and never a word about death. All well and good. Yet when death does come—to them, their wives, their children, their friends—catching them unawares and unprepared, then what storms of passion overwhelm them, what cries, what fury, what despair! . . .

To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of its strangeness, let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death. . . . We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere.

To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.


The King Milinda once asked the Buddhist sage Nagasena: “When someone is reborn, is he the same as the one who just died, or is he different?”

Nagasena replied: “He is neither the same nor different. . . . Tell me, if a man were to light a lamp, could it provide light the whole night long?”


“Is the flame then which burns in the first watch of the night the same as the one that burns in the second . . . or the last?”


“Does that mean there is one lamp in the first watch of the night, another in the second, and another in the third?”

“No, it’s because of that one lamp that the light shines all night.”

“Rebirth is much the same: One phenomenon arises and another stops, simultaneously. So the first act of consciousness in the new existence is neither the same as the last act of consciousness in the previous existence, nor is it different.”

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day September 17th,

It has often intrigued me how some Buddhist masters I know ask one simple question of people who approach them for teaching: “Do you believe in a life after this one?” They are not being asked whether they believe in it as a philosophical proposition but whether they feel it deeply in their hearts. The master knows that if a man believes in a life after this one, his whole outlook on life will be different, and he will have a distinct sense of personal responsibility and morality. What the masters must suspect is that there is a danger that people who have no strong belief in a life after this one will create a society fixated on short-term results, without much thought for the consequences of their actions.

Could this be the major reason why we have created a world like the one we are now living in, a world with hardly any real compassion?

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day October 25 ,

Learning how to Live

To learn how to die is to learn how to live; to learn how to live is to learn how to act not only in this life but in the lives to come. To transform yourself truly and learn how to be reborn as a transformed being to help others is really to help the world in the most powerful way of all.

Let us dare to imagine now what it would be like to live in a world where a significant number of people took the opportunity, offered by the teachings, to devote part of their lives to serious spiritual practice, to recognize the nature of their minds, and so to use the opportunity of their deaths to move closer to buddhahood, and to be reborn with one aim, that of serving and benefiting others.

All beings have lived and died and been reborn countless times. Over and over again they have experienced the indescribable Clear Light. But because they are obscured by the darkness of ignorance, they wander endlessly in a limitless samsara.


Six realms of existence are identified in Buddhism: gods, demigods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, and hells. They are each the result of one of the six main negative emotions: pride, jealousy, desire, ignorance, greed, and anger.

Looking at the world around us, and into our own minds, we can see that the six realms definitely do exist. They exist in the way we unconsciously allow our negative emotions to project and crystallize entire realms around us, and to define the style, form, flavor, and context of our life in those realms. And they exist also inwardly as the different seeds and tendencies of the various negative emotions within our psychophysical system, always ready to germinate and grow, depending on what influences them and how we choose to live.

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day September 24th,

I remember a middle-aged American woman who came to see Dudjom Rinpoche in New York in 1976. She came into the room, and sat in front of Dudjom Rinpoche, and blurted out: “My doctor has given me only a few months to live. Can you help me? I am dying.”

To her surprise, in a gentle yet compassionate way, Dudjom Rinpoche began to chuckle. Then he said quietly: “You see, we are all dying. It’s only a matter of time. Some of us just die sooner than others.”

With these few words, he helped her to see the universality of death, and that her impending death was not unique. This eased her anxiety. Then he talked to her about dying and the acceptance of death. And he spoke about the hope there is in death. At the end, he gave her a healing practice that she followed enthusiastically. Not only did she come to accept death, but, by following the practice with complete dedication, she recovered her health.

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day October 8

The belief in reincarnation shows us that there is some kind of ultimate justice or goodness in the universe. It is that goodness that we are all trying to uncover and to free. Whenever we act positively, we move toward it; whenever we act negatively, we obscure and inhibit it. And whenever we cannot express it in our lives and actions, we feel miserable and frustrated.

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day October 17

So many veils and illusions separate us from the stark knowledge that we are dying. When we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.

Sir Thomas More, I heard, wrote these words just before his beheading: “We are all in the same cart, going to execution; how can I hate anyone or wish anyone harm?” To feel the full force of your mortality, and to open your heart entirely to it, is to allow to grow in you that all-encompassing, fearless compassion that fuels the lives of all those who wish truly to be of help to others.


There would be no chance at all of getting to know death if it happened only once. But fortunately, life is nothing but a continuing dance of birth and death, a dance of change. Every time I hear the rush of a mountain stream, or the waves crashing on the shore, or my own heartbeat, I hear the sound of impermanence. These changes, these small deaths, are our living links with death. They are death’s pulses, death’s heartbeat, prompting us to let go of all the things we cling to.

One of the chief reasons we have so much anguish and difficulty in facing death is that we ignore the truth of impermanence.

In our minds, changes always equal loss and suffering. And if they come, we try to anesthetize ourselves as far as possible. We assume, stubbornly and unquestioningly, that permanence provides security and impermanence does not. But in fact impermanence is like some of the people we meet in life—difficult and disturbing at first, but on deeper acquaintance far friendlier and less unnerving than we could have imagined.

The purpose of reflection on death is to make a real change in the depths of our hearts. Often this will require a period of retreat and deep contemplation, because only that can truly open our eyes to what we are doing with our lives.

Contemplation on death will bring you a deepening sense of what we call “renunciation,” in Tibetan ngé jung. Ngé means “actually” or “definitely,” and jung to “come out,” “emerge” or “be born.” The fruit of frequent and deep reflection on death will be that you will find yourself emerging, often with a sense of disgust, from your habitual patterns. You will find yourself increasingly ready to let go of them, and in the end you will be able to free yourself from them as smoothly, the masters say, “as drawing a hair from a slab of butter.”

Why do we live in such terror of death? Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is that we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity; but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our “biography,” our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards. . . . It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?

We live under an assumed identity, in a neurotic fairy-tale world with no more reality than the Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland. Hypnotized by the thrill of building, we have raised the houses of our lives on sand.

This world can seem marvelously convincing until death collapses the illusion and evicts us from our hiding place. And what will happen to us then if we have no clue of any deeper reality?

The teachings show us precisely what will happen if we prepare for death and what will happen if we do not. The choice could not be clearer. If we refuse to accept death now, while we are still alive, we will pay dearly throughout our lives, at the moment of death, and thereafter. The effects of this refusal will ravage this life and all the lives to come.

We will not be able to live our lives fully; we will remain imprisoned in the very aspect of ourselves that has to die. This ignorance will rob us of the basis of the journey to enlightenment, and trap us endlessly in the realm of illusion, the uncontrolled cycle of birth and death, that ocean of suffering that Buddhists call “samsara.”

Body lying flat on a last bed,
Voices whispering a few last words,
Mind watching a final memory glide past:
When will that drama come for you?

Those who have been through the near-death experience have reported a startling range of aftereffects and changes. One woman said:

The things that I felt slowly were a very heightened sense of love, the ability to communicate love, the ability to find joy and pleasures in the smallest and most insignificant things about me. . . . I developed a great compassion for people that were ill and facing death and I wanted so much to let them know, to somehow make them aware that the dying process was nothing more than an extension of one’s life.

It may be surprising for the West to learn how very many incarnations there have been in Tibet, and how the majority have been great masters, scholars, authors, mystics, and saints who made an outstanding contribution both to the teaching of Buddhism and to society. They played a central role in the history of Tibet.

I believe that this process of incarnation is not limited to Tibet but can occur in all countries and at all times. Throughout history there have been people of artistic genius, spiritual strength, and humanitarian vision who have helped the human race to go forward. I think of Gandhi, Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, of Shakespeare, of Saint Francis, of Beethoven and Michelangelo.

When Tibetans hear of such people, they immediately say they are bodhisattvas. And whenever I hear of them, of their work and vision, I am moved by the majesty of the vast evolutionary process of the buddhas and masters that emanate to liberate beings and better the world.

Long Term Vision

We must never forget that it is through our actions, words, and thoughts that we have a choice. And if we choose to do so, we can put an end to suffering and the causes of suffering, and help our true potential, our buddha nature, to awaken in us. Until this buddha nature is completely awakened and we are freed from our ignorance and merge with the deathless, enlightened mind, there can be no end to the round of life and death. So, the teachings tell us, if we do not assume the fullest possible responsibility for ourselves now in this life, our suffering will go on not only for a few lives but for thousands of lives.

It is this sobering knowledge that makes Buddhists consider that future lives are more important even than this one, because there are many more that await us in the future. This long-term vision governs how they live. They know if we were to sacrifice the whole of eternity for this life, it would be like spending our entire life savings on one drink, madly ignoring the consequences.

Despite all our chatter about being practical, to be practical in the West means to be ignorantly, and often selfishly, short-sighted. Our myopic focus on this life, and this life only, is the great deception, the source of the modern world’s bleak and destructive materialism. No one talks about death and no one talks about the afterlife, because people are made to believe that such talk will only thwart our so-called progress in the world.

If our deepest desire is truly to live and go on living, why do we blindly insist that death is the end? Why not at least try to explore the possibility that there may be a life after? Why, if we are as pragmatic as we claim, don’t we begin to ask ourselves seriously: Where does our real future lie? After all, very few of us live longer than a hundred years. And after that there stretches the whole of eternity, unaccounted for. . .

For most of us, karma and negative emotions obscure the ability to see our own intrinsic nature, and the nature of reality. As a result we clutch on to happiness and suffering as real, and in our unskillful and ignorant actions go on sowing the seeds of our next birth. Our actions keep us bound to the continuous cycle of worldly existence, to the endless round of birth and death. So everything is at risk in how we live now at this very moment: How we live now can cost us our entire future.

This is the real and urgent reason why we must prepare now to meet death wisely, to transform our karmic future, and to avoid the tragedy of falling into delusion again and again and repeating the painful round of birth and death. This life is the only time and place we can prepare in, and we can only truly prepare through spiritual practice: This is the inescapable message of the natural bardo of this life.


It is crucial now that an enlightened vision of death and dying should be introduced throughout the world at all levels of education. Children should not be “protected” from death, but introduced, while young, to the true nature of death and what they can learn from it.

Why not introduce this vision, in its simplest forms, to all age groups? Knowledge about death, about how to help the dying, and about the spiritual nature of death and dying should be made available to all levels of society; it should be taught, in depth and with real imagination, in schools and colleges and universities of all kinds; and especially and most important, it should be available in teaching hospitals to nurses and doctors who will look after the dying and who have so much responsibility to them.

From the Tibetan Buddhist point of view, we can divide our entire existence into four continuously interlinked realities:

1. life; 2. dying and death; 3. after death; and 4. rebirth.

These are known as the four bardos:

1. the natural bardo of this life,
2. the painful bardo of dying,
3. the luminous bardo of dharmata, and
4. the karmic bardo of becoming.

The bardos are particularly powerful opportunities for liberation because there are, the teachings show us, certain moments that are much more powerful than others and much more charged with potential, when whatever you do has a crucial and far-reaching effect.

I think of a bardo as being like a moment when you step toward the edge of a precipice; such a moment, for example, is when a master introduces a disciple to the essential, original, and innermost nature of his or her mind. The greatest and most charged of these moments, however, is the moment of death.

Above Excerpts from 'Glimpse of the Day' by Sogyal Rinpoche


Meaning of Life and Experience of Death in Buddhism
by Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

August, 19, 1997
at Ratnashri Meditation Center, Sweden

Today, I am going to speak about the meaning of life and the experience of death in a positive way, which is very important to our lives. As you see, everybody, no matter what country he or she comes from, what language he or she speaks, what social, economic and political system he or she belongs to, what kind of culture or belief system he or she is acquainted with, whether he or she is rich or poor, educated or uneducated, desire to have peace and happiness and be free from suffering. There is no question about that. Even if we have to destroy our happiness, we are destroying our happiness in order to bring happiness. Even if we have to chase the suffering, we are chasing the suffering in order to be free from suffering. Due to ignorance, we chase the suffering unintentionally in order to be free from suffering. We make efforts and work very hard in our lives in different fields to acquire more happiness and be free from suffering. Due to different cultures, different belief systems, different teachings, we follow different paths materialistically, spiritually, outwardly and inwardly. However, the basic purpose of our lives is the same, that is, to bring happiness and be free from suffering. This is the meaning of life and the purpose of life.

Because of that, as modern technology advances, many new things are invented and developed in order to bring happiness and to make our lives more comfortable and peaceful. The advanced technology enables us to measure and go to the outer space. We try to explore the outer space as much as we can even though there is no limit to the outer space. We try to see what we can find there –another planet, another place, what kind of things or beings exist. We would like to have more control of the outer space in order to secure our peace and happiness. Computers can do so much and still there is no end to exploring technology in order to have better and more meaningful lives. When we are so busy exploring the outer technology, outer phenomena, we forget our inner mental technology. The quality of our inner mental technology is immeasurable, infinite, like space. We keep projecting and exploring outside and forget that mind is the one that explored and created all these technologies. We lose the sense of mental quality. To know our mind, we do not have to go anywhere. It resides within us, face to face and yet we do not know. We judge other things, other people, outer technologies, we do not know how to judge our mind.

Let me say a few words about Buddha’s life story as a historical person who taught us Buddhism for more than 2500 years ago. Buddha was born as a prince who was called Siddhartha. His father was a very powerful king in Northern India who ruled a big country. Siddhartha lived in the kingdom until he was 29. His father supported him and made sure that he had a perfect life. He had everything he needed – a very beautiful kingdom, a comfortable place with relatives, servants and all the services. One day, he saw a person who was old and could not see well nor walk well with shaking hands. Another day, he saw a man who was sick, full of pain in his body. His pain completely occupied his whole being, physically and mentally. Another day, he saw another man who was dead and was carried to the street. His family and friends were crying, beating their chests, asking him not to leave. When Siddhartha saw these, he woke up. He asked numerous questions – "What is happening? Who are these people? What are they doing? What are they experiencing and why? I have never seen all these before, what is all this about?" He gathered many scholars and ministers and asked them these questions. Their reply was that every person individually has to go through these experiences. Everybody whether he or she is educated or uneducated, rich or poor, who has been born into this world has to go through these experiences by himself or herself. We cannot deny these experiences. Siddhartha was deeply moved by what he saw so he thought that it was not enough just being in the beautiful palace, just enjoying a comfortable life. There were many people relying on him. So what kind of help could he offer them? What kind of ability he had to help them? Not only that, if he himself had to go through these experiences, did he have the wisdom and ability to face these challenges positively? Many serious questions arose in his mind and he could not answer them at that moment. "It is not enough to just to attach to this beautiful palace with all these beautiful people. I must look for some special answer." For that reason, he denounced the kingdom. He denounced the kingdom not out of weakness, not out of selfishness, rather out of great compassion, great wisdom. Out of great compassion because he would like to help everybody to go through these challenging situations and circumstances. Out of great wisdom because it required such a technique and method of how to face these challenges. So for six years, he went through great hardship, even without eating food, without wearing clothes, but he could not find complete answers. So he thought, being in the kingdom which had every comfort, wealth and luxury, there was no answer to be free from suffering; by going through lots of hardship, not eating food, not wearing clothes, there was no answer to be free from suffering and to have happiness. So what was the real solution? He investigated, scrutinized and realized that it was the mind. Mind is the most mysterious subject. It lies within us and yet we do not know how it looks like, the way it abides. We cannot judge or have control over what we do. In the morning, we may be happy and peaceful; in the afternoon, we may be completely different with different mental states. So knowing our mind is most crucial. When our mind is not realized, when we do not know our own mind, even if we own the whole world, the whole universe, there is no happiness, there is no peace. It does not mean that we should not have food or clothes. It does not mean that we should not have anything. We can have anything but yet if we do not know the mind, that cannot bring complete happiness and ultimate peace. So for that reason, he sat under the Boddhi tree and he dedicated himself and promised himself, "Until I realize the total nature of the mind, I will not wake up or stand from this seat even if my body disintegrates, falls into many pieces!" With such strong determination and powerful mind, he sat practicing and meditating and realized the total nature of the mind and at that time, he was called Buddha, the fully awaken one.

When we are asleep, we are like dead, we do not know what is happening around us and we have no awareness. Likewise, when we are in the state of ignorance, we do not know what we are doing. We think that we are doing many things in a smart way; but in reality, we are not. We want to have happiness but we destroy our happiness. We want to be free from suffering but we chase more suffering. It is due to our ignorance that lies within us. However, our precious human life has every ability and opportunity to be fully awaken from that ignorant state and put all the sufferings to an end. All the causes of suffering can be purified. With great wisdom and compassion, this precious human life can give us all the qualities. With the help of precious Dharma teachings, we can utilize our energies, efforts, time and opportunities in the best way to realize the truth. Therefore when Buddha attained complete enlightenment, Buddhahood, he taught the Four Noble Truths. He said, "This is suffering, we should all know." In a way, suffering is something that we do not desire but on the other hand, suffering is very important. Without suffering, we would not wake up. Suffering gives us hints. It gives us great opportunity to look at suffering and examine what the causes of suffering are and avoid the causes of suffering totally. That is why Buddha said that we should know the suffering, be aware of suffering. Once we know the suffering, there is no more to know. However, if we do not know what suffering really is, even though we would like to be free from suffering, we end up chasing more suffering. Knowing about suffering, the causes of suffering and how to avoid the causes of suffering is called great wisdom. With this understanding, we practise wholeheartedly and patiently. In this way, we know how to be sincere to ourselves. Otherwise, we destroy ourselves by ourselves. But first we have to face suffering and accept it. If we do not accept suffering, then small suffering will become big suffering. Suffering on the one hand is very negative, undesirable and nobody should have that. However, to attain Buddhahood, complete enlightenment, suffering is very useful and very helpful. I am sure there are many practitioners when they encounter suffering, they can focus better in their meditation and when everything goes well, they forget about meditation. Every sentient being desire to have happiness and be free from suffering. When we cultivate and develop the thought of genuinely wishing every sentient being to be happy and free from suffering, it is called the mind of great compassion, Bodhicitta. Great compassion is the real source of peace, fearlessness and courage. Great compassion helps us to open up our potential and be closer to the nature of our mind. I am sure you have heard of many great Boddhisattvas who have great indomitable courage to help and benefit other sentient beings. That indomitable courage comes from great compassion. The nature of the mind is infinite, like space, beyond limit. When we do not realize this, we become so narrow and limited. Our mind is deluded and confused with self-centered ego, attachment, hatred, anger and emotions, which invite more suffering. It is like a veil which covers the true nature of our mind. Our mind has no ego, no attachment and no hatred. Ego, attachment, hatred and so on are just bad habits. Ego is something that we created and we cherish it and take care of something that does not exist and that is why we suffer. If it is something that exists, we should not suffer. When there is peace and harmony, we feel so comfortable. The moment when there is anger, hatred or violence, we feel so uncomfortable. This shows that the nature of our mind does not agree with that. The true nature of our mind does not have these delusion or confusion. Thus, in order to reveal the total nature of the mind, we have to avoid all these confusion and delusion. Therefore we need to purify these bad habits, not the mind. With the guidance from a good teacher, doing meditation practice is a way to purify these bad habits. We need to make efforts to relax, to get to know the unfabricated nature of the mind. When we realize the nature of the mind, we have total freedom. Therefore, great wisdom and compassion are the most important technologies within us that we can utilize in order to completely free ourselves from suffering. This is a brief talk on how to achieve a meaningful life.

Experience of birth, aging, sickness and death is for everybody, not just to some. We cannot deny it. Denying does not help us to free from suffering. We have to explore and understand what we can do and how to face it positively. For example, when a doctor examine patients who have a problem, the doctor has to know what symptoms they have and the causes of their sickness. After the doctor knows the problem well, he can then prescribe good medicine. If the doctor does not know the patient, he cannot prescribe medicine. Similarly, we want to know how to free from suffering of death, we have to know about death. Death is a good opportunity to free ourselves from suffering and to attain enlightenment. So death is unavoidable. There is a story about two great masters who discussed teachings, experiences and all that and one asked the other master, " Since you are a great practitioner, great teacher, maybe you have a special method of not experiencing death, please show me that method." The master said, "You should not be born. You should not be here at all. Do not create karma. Once you are born, definitely, you will die one day. This is unavoidable." Generally speaking, birth and death are like everyday experience; in the morning when we wake, it is like birth; when we go to sleep, it is like death. When we go to sleep, we have no awareness. We do not know what we are doing. The next day when we wake up in the morning, we remember we had such and such dreams, that’s all. So it is good to make preparation for death. It means that we sacrifice our happiness in the morning for the happiness in the afternoon. We sacrifice our happiness and peace today for the happiness and peace tomorrow. We sacrifice our happiness and peace this year for the happiness and peace next year. So why not sacrifice our happiness and peace this life for the happiness and peace at the time of death. Especially, when we are alive, we can get a lot of help from others, from our family, teachers, friends, relatives. At the time of death, we cannot get any support. We alone have to face it. No matter how dear friends, relatives we have, they cannot do anything. Therefore, it is very important to utilize our precious human life and prepare ourselves to die without fear, to die happily. This becomes the real purpose of life. It is very important because no matter how much happiness and peace we experience in this life, at the time of death, it is like a dream, an illusion. When you have good times during the day, it is just a memory, no substance to it. There is nothing we can attach to. The same thing applies to at the time of death, if we could prepare well, organize our mind, develop great wisdom and compassion so that we die without fear. Otherwise, no matter how much wonderful time we have during this life, at the time of death, it becomes a dream, an illusion. Therefore, we need to remind ourselves about our death, not to make life miserable but rather to awake our wisdom and compassion, to be a good human being, to be totally sincere to ourselves. Just as we now need happiness and peace, at the time of death, definitely, we need happiness and peace. However, it will not happen by itself at that moment. Just like pushing a computer button seems very easy but preparing that button takes years of hard and dedicated work. Therefore, we need to prepare now. We prepare ourselves by developing wisdom, compassion and all other mental qualities. So at the time of death, it is just like pushing the button. That button we have to prepare now for dying is like going to sleep. The mind draws things out. We project outside. Mind sinks more and more inside, we cannot hear, see or think well. Our body is made up of four elements. All our functions, senses are based on the four elements – water, air, fire and earth. When they function well, we are healthy. When they do not function well, our health deteriorates. When they do not function at all, we are dying. During that time, it depends on individuals how familiar they are with different types of meditation techniques, realizing awareness and so on. When we know those well, it is like going to a familiar place. When we do not prepare well, we are like going to an unknown place and have no idea of where we are going. There are lots of fear, doubt and hesitation. When we prepare well, it is like having visited the place before and we have some idea of where we are going. When we do not prepare well, we have no idea and we are lost. Death is inevitable and we all have to go through death. Therefore, in order to die positively without fear, it becomes very important to prepare now. Based on wisdom and compassion, we use meditation techniques to stabilize and organize our mind. Mind brings insights and we should get to know it, be familiar with it and make friend with it rather than making enemy with it. During this process, we should transform our negative thoughts. For example, if we put manure into a field, it becomes so fertilized that big crops can grow on the field. Similarly, within our negative thoughts, if we plant the seeds of Bodhicitta, big tree of Bodhicitta can grow within them. Since every individual is endowed with the seed of enlightenment, we have the ability and responsibility to awake that potential, to prepare the button, to push the button, to open the door of enlightenment and to see our Buddha mind directly. Until we are fully awaken from our ignorance, we have to make effort and practise patiently.


Dedicated to the impeccable perpetuation of the glorious Kagyu lineage and to the
success of its leaders and followers in accomplishing their commitment to
bring all sentient beings to the state of enlightened awareness.
May all mother sentient beings, boundless as the space, have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they be liberated from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be separated from the happiness which is free from sorrow.
May they rest in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion. - source

Reincarnation was in the Bible until around the 5th Century when it was edited out.

Reincarnation is the idea that our spirit, our eternal consciousness, is reborn time after time into many lives in order to learn, grow, and evolve. Knowledge about reincarnation comes to us via such avenues as religious or esoteric doctrines, spontaneous past life memories of adults and children, induced regression to past lives, and through people who have enhanced sensitivity to psychic information.

Such uncommon immediate bonds as love at first sight, if it's true love, however, probably do indicate a past-life relationship.

Evidence seems to show that past lives can leave their mark on the current life in a variety of ways. One may have a significant mark on the body, a peculiar habit, exceptional abilities or talents, or fixed attitudes about life that don't seem to come from the present family system. Sometimes someone recalls a fatal wound in a previous lifetime that matches a current birthmark.

'Researchers report that the intermission between physical lives may vary from a few years of Earth time to hundreds or thousands. Specific studies by TenDam show that an average intermission appears to be roughly sixty to eighty Earth years'.

'According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, young souls in their early incarnations are apparently not yet completely aware of the process of reincarnation. Mature souls with more lifetime experience become more aware of their journey through the nonphysical worlds and are consciously trying to learn and grow. Older souls progress into teachers, helping younger souls to become more conscious of their spiritual nature'.

above extracts from, The Tenth Insight, Holding the Vision'', Experiential guide by J. Redfield and Carol Adrienne.

According to The New Dawn we have around 108 lives. Nearer lives 100 we are interested in spirituality, becoming a Buddha, becoming One with God.


Would you have regressive hypnotherapy?

Would you like to know if you were Hitler in your past life?

If you ever do past life regression, look at it as a witness, rather than as if you actually did all those things.


While Glen Hoddle was England football manager he suggested that disability was a punishment for bad behaviour in a past life. Maybe one can we say the same about people suffering in Ethiopia & Rowanda. Law of Karma? What goes around comes around? Maybe in past lives these people were evil or even murderers? Who knows?


When you are strong and healthy,
You never think of sickness coming,
But it descends with sudden force
Like a stroke of lightning.

When involved in worldly things,
You never think of death’s approach;
Quick it comes like thunder
Crashing round your head.


If one does not remember death, one does not remember Dharma. Lama Zopa

We need to shake ourselves sometimes and really ask: “What if I were to die tonight? What then?” We do not know whether we will wake up tomorrow, or where. If you breathe out and you cannot breathe in again, you are dead. It’s as simple as that.

As a Tibetan saying goes: “Tomorrow or the next life—which comes first, we never know.”

Way of the Samurai

From Hagakure, The Way of the Samurai, by Yamamoto, translated by William Scott

The Way of the Samurai is found in death. Meditation in inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried by surging waves, thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by great earthquake, falling from thousand foot cliffs, dying from disease, or commiting seppuku at the death of one's master. And everyday without fail one should condifer himself as dead. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai.

related reading:

*****Tibetan Book of Living & Dying - by Sogyal Rinpoche -International Bestseller


related links

Spiritual Care Programme UK
The UK Spiritual Care Team offers seminars on such themes as:
Being Present with Death: a day for caregivers to explore the value of a spiritual perspective and spiritual practice
Who Cares for the Carers: finding spiritual resources within ourselves
Opening the Heart to Loss and Grief: a spiritual approach to bereavement
On invitation, we also run training days and give talks in a variety of settings including hospitals, hospices, colleges, and conferences.

Christine McAnaney
330 Caledonian Road
London N1 1BB
Tel: +44 (0)207 609 7010
Fax: +44 (0)207 609 6068

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