b) The advantages of recalling death
This subtopic also has
six divisions: (1) the advantage of bringing great value to our practice; (2)
the advantage of bringing great power to our practice; (3) the advantage of
being important at the beginning; (4) the advantage of being important in the
middle; (5) the advantage of being important at the end; and (6) the advantage
that we will be able to face death with joy and happiness.
advantage of bringing great value to our practice
There is great
value in recalling our death. The Master declared in the Sutra on the
Great Expiration that the
elephant has the greatest of all footprints and that impermanence and death are
the greatest of all conceptions. Indeed, it is by recalling death that we
develop a genuine dharma practice. After engendering in us the desire to achieve
an excellent human form in our next life, it motivates us to practice
generosity, observe morality, and so on. In short, the practice of recalling
death is what ultimately leads us to achieve all the levels of the path from
those relating to the three types of practitioner up to the united pair state of
Even Je Milarepa was so influenced by the death of his
teacher Yungtīn's patron that it moved him to take up the dharma. Great spiritual
adepts carry a trumpet made from a human thighbone and a cup made from a human
skull to remind them of their own impermanence. This also explains why the
Vinaya scriptures declare that skeletons should be drawn in the monks' bath
house, and so forth.
Rinpoche said, "If we don't meditate on impermanence during each of the morning
periods, then that day becomes lost to the concerns of this life."
Shangtsun Yerpa also
When we don't recall impermanence in the morning, everything up
until noon is lost to the concerns of this life. When we don't recall it at
noon, everything up until that night is lost to the concerns of this life. And
if we become devoted to this life, all our actions fall outside the
ii) The advantage of bringing great power to our practice
The practice of recalling impermanence in the form of death destroys
desire, hatred, and other enemies of the dharma. It also gives us power to
accumulate virtue. It is further described as being like a hammer that instantly
destroys all mental afflictions and misdeeds.
advantage of being important at the beginning
At the outset of our
spiritual practice, recalling death causes us to take up the
iv) The advantage of being important in the middle
In the middle part of our spiritual practice, recalling death is the
motivating force that urges us to be energetic in practicing the
v) The advantage of being important at the end
the end of our spiritual practice, recalling death causes us to achieve the
path's result and thus to complete our spiritual endeavors.
advantage that we will be able to face death with joy and happiness
The sixth advantage is that even though we are about to die, we will
feel like a son returning to his father's home. This comes about because earlier
in life we carried out a true dharma practice, and therefore we feel secure in
our mind about what the future will bring.
For instance, Longdol Lama
I will not be afraid when my impermanence shows itself,
for that morning's old monk will transform himself into a deity in the
In sum, the best dharma practitioner faces death joyfully,
the middling practitioner does so without fear, and even the lesser practitioner
does so without regret. This lack of regret comes when we think, "I was able to
carry out my dharma practice well. So now it will be easy for me to
Je Milarepa also said:
I fled to the mountains in fear of
And realized mind's primal statevoidness.
Now, when death comes,
I have nothing to fear.
The actual method of recalling