When you reach the threshold of death, the friends and relatives around you have no way of accompanying you any further. There is very little they can do to help you at all. Not even the richest magnate can take a penny of his wealth with him, and it would be in vain that even the most powerful of generals ordered his troops to keep death at bay — like everyone else, he will just have to surrender.
Your consciousness will leave your body and wander in the bardo. There, with an illusory mental body, you will find yourself alone in the shadows, lost and desperate, not knowing what to do, not knowing where to go. The hallucinations that torment most beings at that time are terrifying beyond description. Although they are no more than projections of the mind, they nevertheless have a powerful reality at the time.
The only possible source of comfort will be the experience you may have acquired through practicing the Dharma. That is why it is so important to make the effort to practice now. Even in times of peace, a nation foresees the eventuality of war and remains ready to respond. In the same way, stay on the alert, and prepare yourself for death by practicing the Dharma. Like an eternal harvest, it will keep you supplied with provisions for the life to come and will be the very basis of your future happiness.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
from the book The Hundred Verses of Advice: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on What Matters Most
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- The faults within
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- Overcoming obstacles
- Put on the armor of diligence
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- Abandon negative friendships
- Practice with joy and enthusiasm
- The right moment is now
- Precious human life
- Contemplating the defects of samsara
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- Like the events in a dream
- You won’t live forever
- Rather than being trapped by your perceptions
- The freedom to practice the Dharma
- Don’t go on following the past
- How illness can teach us compassion
- Putting down the heavy burden once and for all
- Being near a spiritual teacher
- The union of clarity and emptiness