(3) Contemplating that
when we die nothing except the dharma can benefit us
This third root
category is also made up of three supporting reasons: (1) our wealth is of no
help; (2) our family and friends are of no help; and (3) even our bodies are of
(a) Our wealth is of no help
If we were
Brahma, Shakra, or a wheel-wielding monarch, at the time of
our death we could not take even a single servant with us. And since we can't
take the slightest amount of wealth or possessions, they will not benefit us at
that time either.
When it's time to die, the most powerful king in the
world cannot take even a single grain of barley with him. Even a beggar must
move on, leaving behind the staff he previously never went anywhere without. As
several lines state:
A king goes leaving behind his kingdom;
goes leaving behind his staff.
Tree Sutra also declares:
Though we have food to last a hundred
The day after our death we go hungry.
Though we have clothes to
last a hundred years,
The day after our death we go naked.
Engaging in Bodhisattva Activities states:
performed many kinds of evil
For the sake of those I liked and
Yet what I failed to consider is this:
One must move on and
leave them all behind.
work also states:
A living being is born all alone
And quite alone
indeed he also dies.
When no one else will share his misery,
What use are
loved ones who do but hinder?
man was rubbing a large stone, trying to wear it down into the shape of a cube.
When asked what he was going to do with it, the man replied, "I'm not going to
do anything with it. I'll just throw it away." This is what it's like for us to
be constantly striving to acquire wealth and material goods in this life. In the
end, we'll have to leave them all behind.
(b) Our family and friends
are of no help
Our family, relations, students, attendants, and
servantsall those who are as dear to us as our own heartsmay gather round our
deathbed and cling to our hands and feet, but they can't prevent us from dying.
[181b] Nor can we take a single one of them along with us. All alone, we must
set out on that narrow and treacherous path of the intermediate state. As the
great adept Mitra Yogi declared:
However great your wealth, O
When you have left and reached the other world,
alone without your prince or queen,
Like someone crushed by foes in a
in Bodhisattva Activities also states:
For someone who's been caught
by Yama's aides,
What good are family? What good are friends?
Losang Chokyi Gyeltsen also expressed this point, by saying that at death we
will be "forever parted from our dear and cherished kin."
someone were absolutely sure that he was going to die during the coming winter,
what reason would he have for undertaking some task related to next year?
Nowadays, most of us get all excited about traveling to some place like India or
China. We think of it as something very important. When going on such a journey,
we're able to take along horses, donkeys, servants, and attendants. But when we
set out on that long journey to the next world, we go by ourselves without
companions or even the smallest amount of provisions.
(c) Even our
bodies are of no help
When we die, it wouldn't help us at all even if
all the mountains were to turn into gold, or if every person alive were to
become our friend. But we can forgo thinking about such things as our wealth,
possessions, and family; for we must even leave behind our very bodies. The body
is what we emerge from the womb with at birth. It is an object which we worry
might get cold or hungry, which we can't bear to have pricked by a thorn, and
which we constantly and dearly cherish as if it were some wishing gem. Thus, we
should also reflect how we will even have to part with our bodies which we care
for so dearly. As Je Losang Chokyi Gyeltsen said: "This dearly cherished [182a]
body, when needed, betrays."
we've contemplated these three reasons, it won't do us any good just to sit
there paralyzed by fear. We must recognize that when it comes time for us to
die, the dharma will be the guide that shows us the way. It will also serve as
our caravan leader and as the provisions for our journey. As Gungtang Tenbey
Dharma is the guide for those who don't know their
Dharma is the provisions for a long voyage;
Dharma is the leader for
an arduous journey;
So fix your three doors on the dharma from now on.
Milarepa also declared:
Listen, O disciple Peldar Bum,
Hear me, O
wealthy and faithful one.
Future lives are longer than this life.
arranged food and provisions?
If you haven't arranged provisions,
them through practicing charity!
Several lines later, the song
Listen, O disciple Peldar Bum,
Hear me, O wealthy and
Future lives cause more fear than this life.
arranged a guardian escort?
If you haven't arranged an escort,
through practicing pure dharma!
should reflect how bad it would be if we were to die without having practiced
dharma, like some old and grizzled stray dog. We should conduct ourselves like
visitors who are about to return to their homeland. Such individuals avoid any
of the activities that persons who are planning an extended stay might
undertake. Instead, they concern themselves exclusively with the task of
gathering provisions for their journey. In short, we must avoid becoming tainted
by our attachment to this life, and generate the conviction to devote ourselves
exclusively to the practice of dharma [182b].
Meditating on the nature of