[Note: Find links to more extensive advice in the booklet Practicing the Five Powers Near the Time of Death in the FPMT Catalogue. Go to the "Teachings, Advice & Commentaries" subcategory to find this booklet.]
There are five powers to be practiced near the time of death. They are very important. That is what we need to train in now. We have to remember what they are, at least their names and the meanings. Then we have the possibility of putting them into practice.
The Power of the White Seed
The power of the white seed means to be detached from your family, your possessions, and even from your own body, by thinking, “When I am attached to these things, they cause me to be reborn in samsara, and to die and be reborn countless times. This has happened from past lives up until now, and samsara and these aggregates are only in the nature of suffering. What has kept me in samsara is this.”
By thinking in this way, try to be detached from all these things. The benefit of being detached is that, even though these things have not yet disappeared, but are still present in the room with you, already in your mind you have decided to offer them as charity to other sentient beings, or as an offering to the Triple Gem. If your mind has already decided to give all of this away, it’s very good, because once you have that plan, your mind becomes detached. When you have offered your body as charity to others, it helps you not to cling to it.
Otherwise, when your mind is attached to your body, to sense pleasures, to your present family members, and to possessions, then even though you know meditation techniques, that attachment can still arise and harm you.
The power of the white seed is very important to generate detachment. Also, making offerings or charity to others helps you collect merit. The first power, letting go of everything, is very important.
The Power of the Attitude
The power of the attitude involves making a plan. You think, “From now on, I will never allow myself to be under the control of the self-cherishing thought.” Make a strong plan like this, “I will never separate from bodhicitta even for one second, from now on, up until my death, and especially today. Until enlightenment, and especially today, I will never separate from bodhicitta.” It is very important to do this. It means you always keep your mind in the state of bodhicitta, of cherishing others.
The Power of Blaming the One
What is the power of blaming the one? It is blaming the ego, the self-cherishing thought. Think, “The reason why I have not become enlightened so far, did not achieve liberation from samsara, didn’t achieve any realizations, and the reason why I have been suffering in samsara so far is ego, this great demon ego. If I keep following this, it will continuously do me the same harm. It will never allow me to be enlightened, or to be free from samsara. It won’t allow me to have any realizations. Whatever unfavorable situations, obstacles, unpleasantness, or discomfort happens, this all comes from ego. All of this was done to me by ego.”
Look at the ego as your enemy. Keep separate from it. Keep away from the self-cherishing thought by seeing at it as your enemy. Then, any time an unfavorable or unpleasant situation occurs, you give it to the ego. You use it like a weapon, like an atomic bomb, to explode the ego. Instead of taking it on yourself, give it to the ego, and destroy the ego completely, so it becomes non-existent. Put the blame for all the problems and undesirable things that happen in day-to-day life and all the suffering in samsara from beginningless rebirths until now on the ego. Knowing that all this is caused by ego, you split from the ego. You don’t follow ego, and then there is space for the mind to be able to cherish others, and to be able to practice bodhicitta.
By having the realization of bodhicitta, one enters into the Mahayana path. Then, by realizing emptiness, all the gross and subtle defilements cease, and you achieve enlightenment. Then, you can enlighten all living beings. You can liberate countless living beings from all suffering and its causes, and bring them to enlightenment. Even before you have the realization of bodhicitta, you will feel the good heart, cherishing and benefiting others, and collect good karma or merit as vast as the sky. Whatever actions you do become virtue; they become a cause of enlightenment.
The Power of Prayer
Dedicate your merits in this way, “Due to the past, present, and future merits collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, may I never be separated from bodhicitta during the time of death, during the intermediate stage, during rebirth, and at any time. May I never ever be separate from bodhicitta, and may I have the quickest realization of bodhicitta.” Pray in this way. You can do this while thinking of Lama Yeshe, who is one with Tara.
The Power of Training
When you know that the moment of death has come, lie down. Many meditators die in the meditation state while sitting, but many meditators also lie down to die. They pass away in the meditation on death while lying down. So, the power of training is to lie down on your right side in what is called the position of a lion lying down, which is the position in which the Buddha passed away. At this time you recall how the Buddha passed away in the same position. You do this because if you remember Buddha, it leaves a positive imprint on the mind, which helps the mind to become virtue. That helps to have a good rebirth. While lying in that posture, you can block your right nostril with your right finger, because the breath coming in there is the breath of attachment. Blocking it helps to not be reborn in the lower realms. However, whether you can do that or not, if you are just able to lie down in this way, spirits cannot harm you, due to this position. You can also remember the Buddha, how Buddha passed away, and lie down in this way when you go to sleep, then you won’t have interference from spirits and nightmares.