Phowa

OM AH MI DE WA HRI

At the moment the messenger of death arrives
Please come instantaneously from your pristine realm.
Advise me to give up grasping at mundane existence
And invite me to come to your pristine realm.

When earth sinks into water
And the mirage-like appearance is perceived,
And my mouth becomes dry and foul-tasting,
Please come and tell me not to be afraid and inspire me with true courage.

When water sinks into fire
And the smoke-like appearance is perceived,
And my tongue gets thick and my speech is lost,
Please show me your shining face and give me solace and peaceful joy.

When fire sinks into air
And the firefly-like appearance is perceived,
And my body heat and the light of my eyes rapidly fade away,
Please come and fill my mind with the sound of Dharma wisdom.

When air sinks into consciousness
And the burning like a butter lamp appearance is perceived,
And my body becomes like the earth and my breathing altogether ceases,
Please draw me to your pristine realm with the radiant light of your shining face.

And then, may the radiant red hook
Emanating from your pristine heart
Enter my crown, then descend my central channel,
Hook my very subtle clear light mind, and bring it to your pristine realm.

Yet if I must go into the intermediate state by the force of my negative karma,
May all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas rescue me with the power of Dharma
And inspire me with the pure view that sees all beings as utterly pure,
Hears all sounds as Dharma teaching, and sees all places as a pristine realm.

_____________

Phowa (pron. poh-wa) is Tibetan for “transfer of consciousness” at the time of death. Tantric methods are employed to take “the swift, supreme path to free oneself from samsara and to attain enlightenment.” It is considered a complete path, even for those who do not meditate.

P’howa is one of the Six Yogas of Naropa. It is said to be the quickest, most direct way to be liberated from samsaric suffering. As Marpa promised, “There are teachings for one to become enlightened, but I have a teaching that offers enlightenment without meditation.”

Ayang Rinpoche feels that this practice is especially relevant nowadays, when most people cannot afford the luxury of an extended period of solitary meditation. Also, since we are subject to “the overwhelming power of laziness in the postponement of our practice, we desperately need a spiritual path that is simple and direct, and which enables us to transform the stresses of modern life into a vital force that cuts through attachment to illusory objects and awakens in us the realization of our own Buddha nature. Life is very short, and can end suddenly and without warning. When death comes, we have no escape: neither our accumulated wealth nor our dear ones can help us –- nothing can help except the precious teachings.”

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