Practices for Mother Passing Away

Practices for Mother Passing Away

Date of Advice:
February 2017
Date Posted:
October 2017

A student’s mother was close to passing away. Rinpoche gave this advice on practices to do during and after death. Rinpoche also suggested building a stupa and advised that we collect unbelievable merit just by seeing holy objects, and we collect even greater merit by doing prostrations, circumambulation and making offerings to holy objects.

My very dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
It is such a surprise that your mother has lived this long. It has given you an incredible opportunity to serve your mother, and also in the past your father.

I think I have explained the power of the objects of merit to you in the past. There is the Buddha's teaching on the kindness of the mother and father.

One of my gurus, Zong Rinpoche, the ex-abbot of Shartse Monastery, was very strong at the monastery and very strict in the monastic code. In the end, the Tibetan government had to ask him to be a bit more loose.

Rinpoche mentioned in the Yamantaka teaching that repaying the kindness of our parents is very important. When Zong Rinpoche’s parents came to see him, he wanted to clean the floor where the parents were staying himself. It wasn't because Zong Rinpoche felt attached to them, it was because of seeing the kindness of his parents, as well as what the Buddha explained about the kindness of parents.

Zong Rinpoche wanted very much to do that service for his parents but he wasn’t able to, as he was prevented by others who felt he shouldn’t spend his time like that. Rinpoche did manage to do other things for his parents. He really wanted to serve his parents very much.

You were able to serve your mother for many years, however, in my case I didn’t get to serve my mother as I lived very far away. Even when I was in Solo Khumbu, I didn’t get to do it. As you know, my mother recited 50,000 mani mantras every day, but later in her life it was less.

I think she was able to reincarnate mainly because of becoming nun. Then she reincarnated as a boy and became a monk, but the boy’s life was short. He was an incredibly nice boy. When he was inaugurated at four years old, his voice was very fascinating to listen to, very sweet. If his life was in the hands of a good meditator or practitioner, he would have been very beneficial for sentient beings.

1. If you are there when your mother passes away, recite loudly in her ear the Buddha’s name mantra, Protecting for the Three Lower Realms:


Recite this mantra seven times or more in her ear when she is passing away. By hearing this mantra, one will never be reborn in the lower realms and one will be liberated and will be able to enlighten all sentient beings from the oceans of samsara.

Then you can use any other method, such as powa, to not be reborn in the lower realms as well.

2. Do the short Medicine Buddha practice after this mantra is recited.

3. After that, powa can be done.

These are the things the geshes or Sangha can do. Of course, some things you can do yourself also.

I don’t know about hospital regulations, but since you’re the main person you can definitely pray. When she can hear the prayer, that is the best. Even if the priest is there, you can pray and Geshe-la can come to pray. There is no conflict there. Anyone can pray; there is no complication there.

To do Medicine Buddha puja is very important. After passing, you can do Medicine Buddha puja every seven days up to 49 days. You can even do it every year. There is a lot of information in my recent book How to Enjoy Death. Doing puja before is very important.

4. In my observation, these pujas came out beneficial to do for your mother:

  • Prajnaparamita: to be recited four times by monks at Drepung Loseling Monastery.
  • Prajnaparamita: to be recited once by Tsawa khang tsen at Sera Je Monastery.

5. Do Mitugpa jang wa. That is very important to do after the death.

6. Build a stupa for your mother, however, it’s important the stupa is built where people can circumambulate and therefore get benefit.

We have had some very beautiful stupas made overseas, for example, in Boston and Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. They also attract a lot of interest from schools and so on, which visit the stupa out of cultural interest.

I know I have mentioned the benefits of building a stupa or statue many times already.

Whether a believer or non-believer, just by seeing a painting of the Buddha or a statue of the Buddha, that person collects numberless merits, greater than someone who makes an offering of universes full of jewels to the solitary realizer arhats equaling the number of atoms or sand grains of the universe. So offering to that number of solitary realizer arhats. For how long? For one hundred eons, if you keep offering for that long.

First you have to realize that a solitary realizer arhat is free from samsara and delusion and karma. [Just by seeing the painting or statue of the Buddha] you collect much more merit than [offering to] the hearer-listener arhats.

There is one story, in ancient times in India there was someone who did not have any realizations, who offered medicinal food to four ordinary monks. That doesn’t mean arya beings, transcendental beings who have directly realized and seen emptiness, so not that. That person offered this medicinal food only one time, then after he died he was born as a most powerful wealthy king in India, King Kashika. Of course this was also the result of many lifetimes, because karma is expandable, therefore after many lifetimes, this can happen. This is to give you one small example.

Now here if you offer universes full of jewels to arhats who are free from samsara, the result is most unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable. This just helps you to understand more easily. If you offer universes full of jewels to the number of arhats equaling a handful of sand grains. Wow wow, wow. Even just that, it’s uncountable, offering to that many arhats.

If you think about the number of sand grains or dust particles the size of the house—wow—and you make offering to that many arhats—wow—you can’t imagine the merit. Now think you are offering to the number of arhats equaling the sand grains or dust particles in one country, that many. From this you can figure out, then the size of the universe. It’s amazing, amazing, amazing, so unbelievable.

Even a non-believer, anybody who looks at a statue or painting of Buddha, is able to create numberless great merits just by seeing it. Therefore, any painting or any statue—as big as a mountain or even a very small picture, or one photo that has a thousand buddhas in it—you can’t imagine the merits you collect just by seeing it.

Now like that, the Maitreya Buddha statue will be so big and many people from all around the world will come to see it. So many sentient beings in the world will create unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable merit just by seeing the statue. This is without talking about them doing prostration, circumambulation, offerings; without talking about any of these things.

It is said that we collect numberless greater merits, greater than seeing, if we make flower offering, light offering, incense offering, prostrations and so forth. [From this we collect] numberless great merits, more than seeing a statue of the Buddha. Wow, wow, wow, you can’t imagine. You can’t imagine the merits. Wow, wow, wow. Unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, most unbelievable merits, the cause of happiness and success up to enlightenment.

With much love and prayers ...