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Below is a list of items that belong to ‘All’. They are presented in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Each item has a Title and a synopsis. Click on an item’s Title to view more details about it. Click on “Older posts” button at the bottom of the page to view older items.


The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud – Part 3 of 3

The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud (Part 3 of 3)

Don’t have 36 minutes to listen to the full audio recording of The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud? Not a problem! We’ve re-packaged the recording into three easy parts of 8, 12 and 17 minutes respectively. Here is the audio recording of Part III (the angry and frightening visions leading to the search for another body and rebirth) which runs for just 17 minutes and 32 seconds.

This is the last of the 3 part recording.


The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud – Part 2 of 3

The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud (Part 2 of 3)

Don’t have 36 minutes to listen to the full audio recording of The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud? Not a problem! We’ve re-packaged the recording into three easy parts of 8, 12 and 17 minutes respectively. Here is the audio recording of Part II (the peaceful visions at the start of the journey through the intermediate state) which runs for just 11 minutes and 20 seconds.

Listen to Part II then come back to our website’s News page over the next two weeks for a link to III.


The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud – Part 1 of 3

The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud (Part 1 of 3)

Don’t have 36 minutes to listen to the full audio recording of The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud? Not a problem! We’ve re-packaged the recording into three easy parts of 8, 12 and 17 minutes respectively. Here is the audio recording of Part I (The Moment of Death) which runs for just 7 minutes and 40 seconds.

Listen to Part I then come back to our website’s News page over the next two weeks for links to Parts II and III respectively.


The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud (full recording)

The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud (full recording)

This little book is a most wonderful and readable summary of the famous Tibetan Book of the Dead.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud was written by Jean-Claude van Itallie, who says in his Introduction, “A playwright and a practising Tibetan Buddhist for thirty years, I wrote it because I felt a need to make The Tibetan Book of the Dead as readily available as a book of poems. I wanted a version that could be easily read to oneself or to a friend at a time of need.”

As Jean-Claude van Itallie says, “The Tibetan Book of the dead contains practical navigational instructions of urgent use on the journey that starts with the dying and continues in the days following death. A guidebook to the ‘in-between place’, it instructs how to avoid the suffering caused by the confusion of constantly discursive thoughts”.

I have made an audio recording of the Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud.

The recording runs for about 35 minutes and is in three parts:

  1. the moment of death,
  2. the peaceful visions at the start of the journey through the intermediate state, and finally
  3. the angry and frightening visions leading to the search for another body and rebirth.

Attachment versus Love

Attachment versus Love [1]

Many of our teachers say that attachment will be our major source of suffering at the time of our death: attachment to this life, to our loved ones, to our possessions and most of all to our body.

Therefore, before we die, and whilst we are still capable, we should spend some time trying to pin down the meaning of attachment, what we are attached to, and learn how to overcome attachment and replace it with loving-kindness (‘love’).

The well-known nun, Thubten Chodron, has written a book about the main questions she has been asked over the years. The book is for those interested in Buddhism as well as those who have studied or practised it for many years but who are still unclear about some points.

In Buddhism, says Thubten Chodron, attachment is defined as an attitude that exaggerates other people’s good qualities, or projects good qualities that aren’t there, and then clings to these people. With attachment, we care for others because they please us. They give us presents, praise us, help and encourage us.

On the other hand, with love, we want sentient beings to have happiness and its causes simply because they are living beings just like ourselves.

When we are attached to others, we don’t see them for who they are and thereby develop many expectations of them, thinking they should be like this and they should do that. Then, when they don’t live up to what we thought they were or should be, we feel hurt, disillusioned and angry.

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[1] Extracts from Buddhism for Beginners, by Venerable Thubten Chodron, Snow Lion: Ithaca, 2001 page 30, selected by Len Warren


How attachment arises from ignorance

How attachment arises from ignorance [1]

For most of us, attachment will be a major source of suffering at the time of death: attachment to this life, to our loved ones, to our possessions and most of all to our body. Therefore it’s wise to investigate our attachments now, determine to reduce them, and find out how to do this. Understanding how attachment actually arises will be of great help in enabling us to eradicate it from the source. Some years ago, Geshe Jampa Tegchok gave some inspired teachings on this topic. They are quite deep and require some prior knowledge.

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[1] Extracts from Transforming the Heart: The Buddhist Way to Joy and Courage, by Geshe Jampa Tegchok, Snow Lion: Ithaca, page 228, selected by Len Warren


Compassion – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Compassion, a marvel of human nature [1]

Like all other mammals, we humans are born from our mothers, and for some time after birth we are utterly dependent on our mothers or other caring adults. For nine months we are nurtured in our mother’s womb, and at the moment of birth we are completely helpless. We can neither sit nor crawl, let alone stand or walk, and without the care and attention of others we cannot survive. In this state of absolute vulnerability, our first action is to suck at our mother’s breast. And with her milk, we are nurtured and given strength. In fact the period of dependency for young humans is particularly long. This goes for all of us, including even the worst criminals. Without another’s loving care, none of us would have lived more than a few days. As a result of this intense need for others in our early development, a disposition towards affection is a part of our biology.

[…]

There is now increasing scientific evidence that love, kindness, and trust have not only psychological benefits but also observable benefits to physical health. One recent study even shows that deliberate cultivation of love and compassion can even affect our DNA. It has also been shown that negative emotions such as anxiety, anger and resentment undermine our ability to combat illness and infection. Persistent negative emotions actually eat away at our immune system. People with a high level of self-focus are likely to be more prone to the stress and anxiety that accompany self-centredness. And stress and anxiety are well known to be bad for the heart.

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[1] Extracts from Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Rider 2012, page 41, with some headings added for clarity, by Len Warren, 10 January 2017 and 17 April 2020.


Attachment at the Time of Death

Attachment at the Time of Death

At the time of death the great teachers say that many of us will be afraid of losing what we know and love, and afraid of the unknown ahead of us. Especially, we don’t want to let go of this body or this life. Such attachment to our body and our life can be the source of much unhappiness and distress. Therefore, while we can, we should understand and confront our attachment, so that we are prepared when death comes.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche puts it this way: The mind that clings gets stuck to the object of attachment. When you receive praise: ‘You are so intelligent’, ‘You speak so well’, ‘You understand Dharma so well’, your mind gets stuck to the praise and is no longer free. Like a fly that gets stuck in a spider’s web: its wings get completely wrapped up and it is very difficult to separate them from the web. Or like ants in honey. Attachment is the mind stuck to an object.

Lama Zopa quotes the Kadampa geshes whose advice was to cut off attachment to the ‘eight worldly concerns’: winning and losing, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, fame and disgrace. Consider the first of these, wanting to win at business and become wealthy. Having wealth is not the problem. So, what is the problem? The problem is the mind desiring and clinging to wealth – that is the problem. But if there’s no attachment, no worldly concern, having or not having wealth does not become a problem.

Read more on Cutting Off Attachment


The Cycle of Life

The Cycle of Life

These two photos had a huge impact on me. Try them yourself.

Look carefully at both photos and then read the captions. Let the impermanence of life and the nearness of death sink in. Reflect on the loving kindness, the caring, and the interdependence of all human beings.

Photos reproduced from Facing Death, by Sandra L Bertman, Taylor & Francis, 1991, pages 96, 97


How My Karma at Death Will Propel Me Into a New Life

How My Karma at Death Will Propel Me Into a New Life [1]

Venerable Thubten Dondrub, former Resident Teacher at Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, recently explained how it is that when your death comes and you have virtuous thoughts at that moment, you will be reborn into a happy life; but if at the time of death you have a non-virtuous mind, you will be reborn into a place of great suffering.

Geshe Lhundub Sopa, in his book Steps on the Path to Enlightenment, also goes into the role of karma at the time of death in some detail.

When we commit actions of body, speech or mind with a clear and strong intention, strong karmic imprints, good and bad, are planted on our mind. These are called ‘throwing karma’ because if one of them ripens at the point of death they have enough power to throw or propel us into the next life.

That is why it is so important to guide the mind to the side of virtue as one approaches death. For example, as long as the dying person can still hear, his spiritual teacher or a close friend, or a relative, can gently recite the practices or mantras or sayings that the person is familiar with.

This is one way we, as trained volunteers, can help when The Pure Land is up and running. How amazing and wonderful it would be if our guidance enabled the dying person to have a more peaceful death and a happier rebirth!

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[1] Extracts selected by Len Warren from Steps on the Path to Enlightenment A Commentary on Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chenmo, by Geshe Lhundub Sopa, with David Patt, Volume 2, Wisdom Publications, 2005, page 306
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