Thinking of death, gives life more meaning (haibun) Episode 4

In the past few years I have been decluttering my home. I have started to give away cherished items to my children and will be giving them more this spring. My son asked me a few years ago if I was dying as he could not understand why I was doing this so soon in my life. I think this purging is symbolic of freeing myself so I can concentrate on things I love like reading, writing and making more time to volunteer and perhaps travel, something I put on hold for many years.

© Clr`16/02/18 Montréal streets

gathering leaves
autumn’s last vibrant breath
ready for winter
misty clouds form icicles
season’s final gems

© Tournesol’16/02/20

Carpe Diem Theme Week #1 episode 4: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: Insight 3 “thinking about death gives life meaning”

thinking about death gives life meaning
Our host, Chèvrefeuille says, “We all know that we will die someday. We also know that when this will happen we do not know, or what will be happening. Most of us don’t want to think about dying and in a way we hide for it. As I stated in an earlier post … “death is part of life, it’s the only certainty we have”.”

Here is his response:

Death is in my opinion part of life, without thinking about death we cannot live our life, or even better … without thinking about death we can not celebrate life. Look around you enjoy nature, enjoy the coming and going of the seasons in which life and death are each other’s best friends. If you look at living and dying as being part of nature, part of being human … than death can be giving meaning to life.

in the backyard
the old Sakura has lost his blossom
until next spring

© Chèvrefeuille

slipping (tanka) “through the chinks comes the light”

rocking gently
sinks in a deep slumber
lull of the water
between sudden arrests
slips in the shimmering abyss

© Tournesol’16/02/19

Carpe Diem Theme Week #1 episode 3 The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying Insight 2 “through the chinks comes the light”

What happens exactly as you die? In the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying Sogyal Rinpoche explains it through the idea/ thought of bardo. “Bardo” means “inbetween” and its a kind of transition-mode. Let us look further in the depth of the meaning of bardo, maybe than we can understand it 100%.

Through the chinks comes the light

The original meaning of bardo is, the space between the moment of dying and reincarnation / rebirth. As we ‘dive’ deeper into this matter than we discover more than one bardo. Let’s go …

First there is the bardo of living and dying. This is a painful bardo, but also the moment that the nature of spirit / soul becomes real and in a way breaks through the armor of the body. This we can see in, for example, the story of Easter as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane and asks His Father, God, to take away the cup of poison. Than He is arrested and indures the pain of 39 lashes and the crucifixion. As He dies He commands His Spirit to His Father. This is what we can call the bardo of living and dying.

 What follows is the bardo which is called the shining bardo or dharmata, the state of consciousness / mind after death. To explain this shining bardo, wasn’t easy, because I could not find something to explain it with. Than I got a revelation. This shining bardo you can see as a bright light, the radiation of the pure nature of spirit / mind. It’s a state of pure happiness. In a way this you can see as what is happening as you (someone) has a Near Death Experience (NDE). I ran into a few stories about NDE when I was preparing these episodes. As you read the reports about NDE than everyone sees a bright light in which shadows are moving, ancestors mostly, but angels too.
This shining bardo doesn’t stay forever. Sometimes it takes / endures seven days, but it can also take seven weeks.

The next bardo is called the bardo of becoming. The consciousness / mind finds a new place, in a new body and a new life gets started. This we can also see in the story of Easter. After three days, and taht’s very fast as we compare this with the Tibetan idea about living and dying, Jesus rises from the grave. He conquered dead and became an enlightened being who walks a short time on this earth and than rises to Heaven making the Holy Spirit, a kind of reborn energy, avalable to the world. With His ressurection and entering Heaven He broke the Circle of Bardo, as did Buddha.

In Tibetan tradition of bardo the songs from The Book of the Dead were recited by the monks to lead the spirit. Rinpoche goes further in this idea and describes his ideas in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. In his book he sees life as it is as a bardo. The bardo between birth and the moment of sying, life in itself is a transition. It’s a time in which we learn, contemplate, meditate and prepare on death.

Rinpoche goes even further, a period of uncertainty can also be a bardo. For example, the moment you come home and see that there has been a burglary while you were away. Or that moment between “I have bad news” and “I have to tell you …” At that moment the concrete of your reality breaks and you feel that the ground is disappearing beneath your feet. Than the realization comes … you see the essence. No more time for futilities. It’s a moment of truth … you can see what really is important.

This is what this Insight means … discover the truth by tearing down the veil. This is what happened as Jesus died at the cross. The veil that hid the Holy of Holies was torn apart exposing the holiest place in the temple and the revelation that Jesus really was the Son of God.

Our host’s  response

To write a haiku, tanka or another Japanese poetry form about this 2nd Insight isn’t easy I think, but I had to try it myself (of course) and this is what came in mind, a haiku from my archives:

phoenix spreads its wings
after the dark cold winter night
finally spring

© Chèvrefeuille

our journey (haibun) Week #1 epsiode 2 The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Insight 1

She wondered where they all went. Some believe in heaven, purgatory and hell.  Yet what if the first few moments after a death there is a limbo where spirits linger for their loved ones…stick around for as long as needed?   What if there is a dimension invisible to the human eye except for those who have reached enlightenment?

Where will I be?  Will I be in limbo a long time, passing through waiting in between?

© Clr'16
© Clr’16

passing through
floating in third dimensions
pending revival

© Tournesol ’16/02/19

Inspired by Carpe Theme Week #1 epsiode 2 The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Insight 1 

We are travelers

Reincarnation is one of the central ideas of Tibetan Buddhism and The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. I hope to explain this (with the help of Soygal of course).

Rinpoche makes a difference between our “ego”, our daily personality, our “I”, the form / shape our psyche has in our body in which we live our life, and the deeper, natural consciousness, which is our essence.

What happens when we die? In fact only our body dies, but our consciousness “rises” to another new state of being, another dimension maybe. That is our rigpa, the absolute nature of mind (spirit), the consciousness before thoughts and emotions occur / rise. Later it will be reborn in another body.

Death is not the absolute end. Our body doesn’t exist anymore, but our consciousness travels on. The idea of dying can be paralyzing, but in this vision death is just a moment of transition. That makes the idea of death lighter: we are travelers, continuous on our way from one world to another.

Our host’s response

Finally our consciousness will reach enlightenment, maybe not in this life, but maybe in another life.

ghostly nebulae
covers the old graveyard
cherry blossom blooms

© Chèvrefeuille