My very dear James,
Even non-Buddhists should prepare for death every day, and especially as practitioners we should all prepare like this. It is better to think that death will definitely happen, rather than to think I will have a longer life due to operations. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the operation, I just mean how to think.
1. For liberation from samsara and especially for enlightenment, as well as for all sentient beings, it is very good if you can read the five powers at the time of death, which I recently wrote. I may have sent it to you before. Anyway, here it is attached.
2. It is very good if you can play and listen to the recitation of the Arya Sanghata Sutra all the time, if possible (the best is the one I recorded).
3. Play and listen to the Golden Light Sutra.
4. Play and listen to the Diamond Cutter Sutra. These could be recited by me or Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche.
5. Listen to the “Namo Amitabha” recording. There is a Taiwanese recording that plays continuously. This is very good for uplifting the mind. Listening to this fills the mind up, and you feel that there is nothing else in the world except the Buddhist path. It inspires you to go to the pure land and creates the cause to be reborn in Amitabha pure land. Maybe you will be the first bank manager in Amitabha pure land, HA HA!! Then, from there, you can help all the suffering sentient beings in this world, also all our projects, HA HA!!
6. It would be very good if you can chant this mantra (these words):
"Whatever sufferings there are, may they ripen on me; whatever happiness I have, may it ripen on sentient beings.”
This is Nagarjuna’s teaching of thought transformation; please keep reciting this. Also, it is very good if your friend can recite it to you to remind you, but the best is if you can chant it.
7) Also, if you can, chant these verses from the Guru Puja, practice this meditation and tong-len prayer:
Tong-len: Meditation on taking and giving
LC 95: And thus, venerable, compassionate gurus,
I seek your blessings that all karmic debts, obstacles, and
sufferings of mother beings
May without exception ripen upon me right now,
And that I may give my happiness and virtue to others
And, thereby, invest all beings in bliss.
Actually, this is the best Dharma gift, the best protection from delusion, the best protection from the terrifying lower realms, where there is so much unbelievable suffering. In this meditation, you take on all the sufferings of all mother sentient beings, as well as all one’s own sufferings, on oneself, then let all sentient beings have the state of no-death, enlightenment, the cessation of all sufferings. Then, one asks for all happiness, including enlightenment, all merit, to ripen on all sentient beings.
This practice should be entered into the Olympics. If you win, then at the time of death you go to the pure land, instead of being reborn in the impure world, where we are now, or the lower realms. This would be the best Olympic game. Dying with tong-len (bodhicitta) is the best Olympic game.
The other, most challenging, thing is to pray to be born in the suffering world, in order to help other sentient beings, even to pray to be reborn in the lower realms to help others.
Definitely you can think that you have nothing to be afraid of, including death or the lower realms, because Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha have all the power and qualities to save you, so think that you can rely on them. This is taking refuge, and thinking in this way can give you a great release and peace at the time of death.
I am praying for you, also all your Dharma friends are praying, as well as your business friends. We are praying for you, and everybody who has received help from you is praying for you, OK? So, don’t worry.
Since I met you, you have always been thinking how to help others. You have not been mean, bad, or had harmful thoughts. Your life was always directed towards helping others, towards supporting virtuous projects, my projects, and serving the Sangha, which has inconceivable merits.
Rejoice! Thank you!
With much love and prayers...