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Buddhist Practices Before, During & After Death

The practices on this page can be used as the basis of a "Dharma Will", and for this reason there is a link here and at the bottom to a printer friendly version you can use to make notes of the dying person's wishes.

Suggestions by Lama Zopa Rinpoche extracted from the book:
 Heart Practices for Death and Dying
Buy it here
(You can also purchase a downloadable version here)

We recommend buying this book because most of the necessary material is contained in it. The page numbers beside each entry refer to this book.
We also recommend buying the Liberation Box (available here ) which contains the stupa and other materials mentioned in these recommendations. This also contains a CD with many of the mantras referred to below. Playing the mantras on the CD is an alternative to reciting them.
The practices that you can download from the links on this page have been collected over many years from FPMT when they have been offered for free at various times. Some of the links go directly to the FPMT site

Also have a look at "Heart Advice for Death and Dying" by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, this has a commentary on practicing the five powers, find it here

Below are three groups of Prayers and Practices to be done before death, during death and after death.


Before I die / at my death bed
Reminders

I would like to be reminded about…………….

"You are not alone because all the time there are numberless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas surrounding you, everywhere loving you, guiding you, that is what they do."
- Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggests the following reminders:

To be reminded to think of others with loving kindness and compassion, to wish others to be happy and free from suffering

To be reminded to do taking-and-giving meditation (tonglen – taking other’s suffering and giving out happiness. (Commentary p. 157)

To be reminded about the death process according to tantra: the evolution of the dissolution of the elements, the senses, the consciousness, all the way to the subtle consciousness. (you can find this information on Amitabha Hospice website here )

To be reminded about the nature of the mind – that it’s completely pure.

To be reminded that Buddha is compassionate to everyone, including me, that my loving heart is oneness with Buddha.

Practices
I would like Practices to be done beside me, preferably………

Medicine Buddha Puja (this Puja is included in the book, p. 29 and can be downloaded here, or a iPad / Kindle version here)
Short Medicine Buddha Practice (p. 65) Also check here for all the 8 practices for death
Chanting the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas. These names are included in the book, p. 179, and also included in the FPMT publication "Eight Prayers to Benefit the Dying" which can be downloaded here

To be reminded about the nature of the mind – that it’s completely pure.

Recitations for Pain - audio CD available from FPMT Foundation store here

My personal meditation practice
I would like my usual daily commitments read to me, especially......

Mantras
I would like Mantras to be recited, preferably…………….

 
Painted by Andy Weber

Amitabha Buddha Mantra
first say:
I prostrate to the Buddha
Limitless Illumination


Then chant many times

OM AMI DHE WA HRIH

 

  Painted by Robert Beer

Medicine Buddha (p. 119)

Medicine Buddha mantra (audio)


Tayata Om Bekanze Bekanze Maha BeKanze Radza Samudgate Soha

  Painted by Ella Brewer

 

 

Compassion Buddha Mantra (short)

On Mani Padme Hum

(long p. 119)

Zung of the Exalted Completely Pure Stainless Light mantra (download here)

Mantra Taught by Buddha Droden Gyalwa Cho (p. 125)

Mantra to protect from heavy obstacles like pain, fear, hallucinations at the time of death (p. 125):

OM SHAVADE VARA BISA LINE SVAHA

Five great mantras for the time of death (p.115 or download here)
The text Giving Breath to the Wretched (p. 191, or download here)

Most of these mantras can also be found on one or other of these two disks: "Recitations for the time of Death" and "Recitations for Alleviating Pain" (These two disks are included in the Liberation Box)
Sutras
I would like Sutras to be recited, preferably…………..

The Noble Sutra on Entering the Great City of Vaishali (p. 167 or download here )

Heart Sutra (p. 163, or download here )

Environment
I would like the environment to be………………..

Quiet, with people meditating or praying
Sometimes I would like ..............(CDs) playing in the background
Place the holy mantras and images of .......... where I can see them.
I would like ………………Sangha to be with me.
I would like ……………… to be with me.
If family members are crying I would prefer them to go to another room so I can concentrate and have a peaceful environment around me.

I would prefer not to be sedated so I can focus on my dying process

Place the mantra sheet with the ten great mantras, face down on my skin, in the upper torso area. (these mantras sheets are included in the book, p.129)

Dedications
I would like the merits to be dedicated to………………….

In my future rebirth to meet the Dharma.

In my future rebirth to meet a perfectly qualified Mahayana teacher.

To become enlightened as quickly as possible

To take rebirth in ............... pure land

I would like someone to Sponsor on my behalf Medicine Buddha pujas at Kopan Monastery in Nepal or at the Land of Medicine Buddha in California, or at .........................

During Death Essentials
I would prefer that………………….

When the death time is very close Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggests:

A Stupa filled with the four Dharmakaya relic mantras is placed touching crown of my head.
Place the mantra sheet with the ten great mantras, face down on my skin, in the upper torso area. (these mantras sheets are included in the book, p.129)

Not to have anyone emotional, who is crying or hanging onto me.

To recite the Medicine Buddha mantra in my ear. (p. 119)

To recite the Amitabha Buddha mantra in my ear.
Place on my head the Kalachakra sand (this is from a sand mandala blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

Main practice to do throughout this time is Medicine Buddha Puja (p. 29 or download here)

Follow the advice of ........................ and do the practice he/she suggests.
When breathing stops, no one should touch the body for as long as possible (best is 72 hrs)


Prayers & Practices I would like people to do for me after I die

After Death Essentials
I would prefer that………………….

The first time my body is touched after I have died, please touch the crown of my head, or:

Tug the hair on the crown of my head so that my consciousness leaves from the crown of my head. Do a firm tug

Recite the traditional eight prayers for the time of death (p. 69 or download here):

The King of Prayers (p. 71 or download here)
The Dedication Chapter from Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara (p81 or download it here (p 17)
Prayer to Be Reborn in the Land of Bliss by Je Tsongkhapa (p.87 or download it here (p 23)
A prayer for the Beginning, Middle and End of Practice by Je Tsongkhapa (p.93 or download it here (p 29)
Until Buddhahood – Ji si thub chhog zhug so (p.99 or download it here (p 35)
A Daily Prayer to Maitreya Bodhisattva (taught by Buddha Shakyamuni) (p.101 or download it here (p 37)
Prayer for a Statue of Maitreya (p.105 or download it here (p 41)
Prayer for Spontaneous Bliss (by the Second Dalai Lama, Dendun Gyatso) (p.107 or download it here (p 43)
(+ Multiplying Mantras) (p. 111)
Do Medicine Buddha Puja dedicated for my future rebirth. Best to do it every day for 49 days, if that is not possible, every seventh day for 49 days. The last Puja should have more extensive offerings and should recite the King of Prayers. (Puja, p. 29 or download here, King of Prayers, p. 71 or download here, also in the Eight Prayers, p 69 or download here )
Medicine Buddha pujas can be sponsored for me at Kopan Monastery in Nepal or at the Land of Medicine Buddha in California, or at ..................

Practices
I would like Practices to be done after my death, preferably………

Recite the King of Prayers. ( .doc version here, also on p. 71 and also included in the FPMT publication "Eight Prayers to Benefit the Dying" which can be downloaded here

Make thangkas and dedicate for my good rebirth

Publish Dharma books or sponsor their publication on my behalf
Perform self-initation and tsog offering of my main deity (if the person who died practiced tantra)

Phowa - Amitabha Phowa. (Can be done by a Tibetan Lama - you will need to inform the lama which direction my head is facing – or by a ordinary person, if the person to perform it becomes accomplished at phowa and receives the signs of accomplishment ) (Amitabha Phowa is included in the book, p. 217)

Purify the bones, ashes, hair or nails with the skilful Vajrayana meditation called jangwa. This puja is normally performed by highly qualified lamas.

Medicine Buddha Jangwa (when a centre has a resident geshe, the geshe can be asked to perform this puja or could be done by ordinary beings IF there is no one else around; in this case good to use this recording)

Meditations
I would like meditations to be done on my behalf, preferably………

Meditate on tonglen together with recitations of Om Mani Padme Hum
Meditate on emptiness.
Offerings:
I would like offerings to be done after my death, preferably………

Make many thousands of light offerings or other extensive offerings at ........

Make offerings to Sangha or lay students who have the same Guru.

Make offerings to my Guru(s)
Make offerings to their own Guru on my behalf.

Make charity or offerings to a Dharma centre, perferably ......
Pujas:
I would like Pujas to be done after my death, preferably………

Perform Vajrasattva tsog puja.

Perform Dorje Khadro fire puja as a group
Retreat:
I would like a retreat to be performed after my death, preferably………

Nyung Na practice (this can be done over one weekend)

Vajrasattva retreat, Chenrezig retreat or medicine Buddha retreat

Do a retreat on my own deity .........................
Sutras
I would like Sutras to be recited, preferably…………..

Vajra Cutter Sutra: Download one (English) version here, Various other translations can be also be found here

Recite & meditate on the Heart Sutra (p. 163 or download here )
Mantras
I would like mantras to be recited, preferably…………..

Recite the Namgyalma mantra twenty-one times, then blow on water, sesame seeds, or perfume to bless it and then sprinkle that over the dead body. (It is best to recite the long mantra if possible) (this Mantra is included in the book, p. 116)

Recite the Five Great Mantras ( p. 115 or download here):
- Mantra of Kunrig
- Mantra of Buddha Mitrugpa
- Mantra of Namgyalma (long & short)
- Stainless Pinnacle Heart Mantra
- Wish-Granting Wheel Mantra

Recite the Ten Powerful Mantras (these Mantras are included in the book, p. 119):

Prayers & Practices I would like people to do with my ashes

I would like the following things to be done with my ashes after a Jangwa …………..

Sprinkle into the wind from a high mountain, whatever beings are touched by the ashes are purified of their obscurations and negativities.

Throw in the water. Any fish or other beings touched by that water are purified.

Made into a stupa or statue. (Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains in this book that some people say that ordinary people’s ashes shouldn’t be put in holy objects, but Rinpoche says that once the jangwa is done the ashes become a holy object anyway. It is a way that allows people to accumulate merit. Rinpoche continues explaining that Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche said that once the ashes are purified or blessed, it is ok to put ashes into holy objects) For example Medicine Buddha, Amitabha, Chenrezig, depending on what would have the strongest effect. Any of the eight types of stupa are suitable to use for this purpose, also the Kadampa stupa.

I would prefer........
Made into .......... tsa-tsas or Mitrugpa tsa-tsas

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