Dying and the deathless. Bristol, 2006

Talk delivered  by James Low at a Conference on Death and Dying organized by Bristol Chan Group and Western Chan Fellowship, February 2006
Transcribed and edited by Wendy Chozom
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Excerpts
Where we go wrong in this experience of dying is to imagine that things are happening to us rather than accepting everything, both subject and object, as my experience. This experience is the display of the mind. This is transient energy and I can be with it, for I also am energy.
ཨ ཨ ཨ
When we move into the death process our awareness will still be there, but our personal identity will not. That’s what’s going to hit the buffers; that’s what’s going to untangle and fall apart. The thoughts, through which we know who we are, will no longer be able to quickly weave a sense of self‐identity.
ཨ ཨ ཨ
When you knit something you can unravel it. That’s what death is; it’s just the unraveling of what has been knitted together Our illusion is to imagine that it can stay together forever, or that it should stay together forever, or that it’s a shame when it unravels.
ཨ ཨ ཨ
For people who are attached to what they did before, retirement can be very difficult. That’s why in many big companies they have pre‐retirement classes. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a pre-retirement class; it’s a preparation for how to leave, how to go.
ཨ ཨ ཨ
According to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, you can be liberated through hearing as you enter the death process. Liberation is the realisation that our embodied existence is a manifestation of energy and is not a fixed home that we occupy.
ཨ ཨ ཨ
The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a very de‐centring kind of text. One of its primary propositions is that you need to be present at the time of your death, but absent as your ‘self’.
ཨ ཨ ཨ
If you don’t plant in the springtime, in the autumn you won’t have a harvest. That is the Buddha’s teaching. For those of us who are no longer in the springtime of our lives, there is still time. There are things that we can plant that will grow quickly and we are very fortunate to have these precious teachings and practices.