Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche
On the Transitional Life Care Program (TLC)
April 29, 2017
How many years have we struggled, here and there, trying to establish the dharma, trying to teach, trying to learn? It sounds like this program, Transitional Life Care (TLC), is really trying to do that. It is for the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha; it is for the benefit of all beings. I think it’s a good idea, help everybody open their eyes! I think you guys need to wake up. You are going to die, it doesn’t matter who you are. Do you understand that? We need to think about that, more than hanging out with our eyes closed for years, pretending we will never die.
Others are going to die, it doesn’t matter who they are or if they want to die or don’t want to die, or if you want them to die or don’t want them to die.
It’s going to happen!
Therefore we need to see that, and we need to prepare, and if others are dying, we need to help them or at least know how to avoid harming them or screwing them up at that time. This is our opportunity to serve and gain merit for our next life – to support our precious human rebirth. Read books more and more, receive teachings more and more, help each other understand. Not just our own ideas, but the real wisdom and knowledge about dying, the bardo, the next life, everything. We have such clear teachings on all these subjects. It’s time to stand up! Nobody needs to have closed eyes, nobody needs to say they don’t know.
Don’t go your own way or just blather about your own ideas, either. That won’t benefit you or benefit others. Our focus should be what really benefits ourselves, because sure we are going to die, and what really benefits others, because really they are suffering, too. Therefore we need to learn, to help ourselves. If we know something, we need to share that with others. That way we can help others, too. That is our job, step by step. It is never finished! We don’t retire until we are liberated.
If somebody is dying, you don’t need to be shocked or stunned, with your mouth gaping and eyes bulging, crying and screaming. That’s not helpful, okay? Of course they are going to die! You are, too!
Americans think they are never going to die, and they don’t want to accept that fact if someone brings it up. Americans really have a stupid garbage trip that way! Just lying to themselves, and then at the last minute they say, “Oops!” Really oops, that way! Or they say, “Dammit!” You did that “dammit” to yourself! If you are trying to teach about dying, many people won’t want to listen or won’t want to accept what you are saying. That’s okay. That is the tradition, always so many people don’t want to listen to the teachings or don’t want to benefit themselves. What to do? Nothing to do.
But if people have interest, there are many things that can benefit them—teachings on phowa, on the bardos, and other things. The most important thing is practice. Not at the last minute, but for weeks or months or years before you die, already you can be preparing. You want to prepare for your own death? You need to practice. You want to support somebody else, a dying person? When someone is dying, there is nothing much we can do. We don’t have any blessing like the great masters of the past. But, living or dying, what will really support someone is if you practice and pray for them sincerely.
Then also when they are dying don’t make a lot of noise and be upset. Just be calm and stable, that’s helpful. There are many instructions on what we can do for a dying person, actually. You have many lamas who can teach on phowa, for example. But it also doesn’t particularly have to be phowa, either. There are already many wonderful teachings in books and recordings that lamas have given over the years. Listen to these, again and again. Learn, more and more deeply. You can learn. You can ask questions of the lamas who hold those lineages. We don’t need to put in our own ideas or be smart alecks. Be humble and sincere, and learn the authentic traditions. That will benefit you, there is no question about it. If we just follow our own ideas and go our own way, maybe it will be of benefit and maybe not. There is no guarantee. We are just sort of playing.
Life is impermanent, we are in samsara. Read about the six bardos. Based on this, no matter who is dying, understand that we all die. All of us are sentient beings. So, we ask, what is permanent? The Three Jewels. This program is for the Three Jewels – it is wonderful. This idea is very good - many, many people will benefit in the times to come. If you are trying sincerely and purely, without your own trip or ego or just teaching your own ideas, but really according to the lineage, then I say, “Thank you.” I’m happy to sign for this.
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