Making Friends with Death: A Buddhist Guide to Encountering Mortality

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It requires that we change our whole approach.

Cultivating an awareness of the immediacy of death is a threat to everything we hold dear. It is a threat to our self-image, to our attempt to make our world solid, to our sense of control, and to our desire to keep death as far from life as possible. Death is out there somewhere, in the distant future, hopefully—more hopefully still, it is way out in the very distant future!

It is as if our life were a line that grows longer and longer over time.

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Inch by inch, we fight to extend it, until eventually the Great Scissors comes and—chop! We know that no matter how hard we try to extend our life, in the end it is a losing battle. But we are afraid to let down our guard. As a result, we freeze up, like old rusty engines in need of oil. We maintain that frozen approach to life by distracting ourselves from our immediate experience.

When we are not just zoning out, we keep ourselves occupied with thoughts of the past and future.

Judy Lief and Making Friends with Death

We pile up memories—me when I was a child, me 20 years ago, me and all my little thoughts, me and my experiences of this and that. Then we drag all that along with us. Over time, we keep adding more stuff, more and more and more—and we are afraid to let go of any of it. By holding on to those memories, we try to keep what is already past alive. In our heads , they are real…. To make ourselves feel more solid and real, we continually blur the lines between past, present, and future. We try to force all of that into one airtight package.

Although it is a struggle to maintain, we prefer this struggle to the tenuousness of the present moment—and for the most part, it hangs together pretty well. But in fact, our life is not one solid thing from beginning to end.

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At any given moment, one part of our life is already gone, and the other part has not yet happened. In fact, a great deal of our life is gone for good—everything up to this very point in time. If we are thirty, for example, that means that our first 29 years are dead and gone already. They will not be any more or less dead and gone in the future, at the time of our physical death, than they are already. As for the rest of our life, it has not yet happened. The boundaries of our life are not so clear-cut. As with the hinayana and the mahayana, the formal acceptance into the vajrayana is marked by a vow, in this case the samaya vow.

There is an emphasis at this stage on the student-teacher relationship and on the quality of devotion. Having done so, they then receive the appropriate empowerments to begin tantric practices. There are empowerment ceremonies of many kinds, called abhishekas. The vajrayana includes both form practices, such as visualizations and sadhanas ritual liturgies , and formless practices based on allowing the mind to rest naturally in its inherent clarity and emptiness. Although on the surface, there is much greater complexity in tantric practices, the principles of mindfulness and awareness and the cultivation of compassion and skillful action continue to be of central importance.

The tantric path requires complete engagement and fierce dedication. It is said to be a more rapid path, but it is also more dangerous. There is a quality of directness, abruptness, and wholeheartedness. Tantrikas, or vajrayana practitioners, recognize that the most challenging aspects of life, the energies and play of confused emotions and frightening obstacles, can be worked with as gateways to freedom and realization.

Other topics covered in detail in this volume include the four reminders, the mandala principle, mahamudra, atiyoga, and more. An exposition of the similarities and differences between Vajrayana Buddhism and Zen, by one of the twentieth century's greatest meditation teachers. Through these talks you can see his respect for the Zen tradition and how it led to his using certain Zen forms for his public meditation hall rituals.

He discusses the differences in style, feeling, and emphasis that distinguish the two paths and shows what each one might learn from the other. Also included are Trungpa Rinpoche's commentary on the Ten Oxherding Pictures and an essay he composed in memory of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, a close friend with whom he continually exchanged ideas for furthering buddhadharma in America.

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A seminar on being human through meditation. Many of us are interested in meditation, Buddhism, Shambala. This seminar is about the practice and topic of meditation Judith L. Lief received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Luther College. She had graduate study at the Columbia University, from till In , while she was a student there, she met Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan lama newly arrived in America. Inspired by his teachings and by his profound presence, she uprooted herself from New York City and moved to Boulder, Colorado, in order to study the path of Buddhism and to practice Buddhist meditation under his auspices.


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She continued to study with Chogyam Trungpa for sixteen years until Trungpa had expressed the wish that, after his death, his works would be published in a collection of volumes. The series is based on Chogyam Trungpa's oral teachings during seventeen years in North America, and they draw upon the extensive audiotape collection housed in the Shambhala Archives. Lief has worked as a Buddhist teacher for more than 35 years, offering workshops to provide people with the contemplative tools that can change the way they face death and care for the dying. Additionally, in her teaching, Lief concentrates on how the insights and meditative techniques coming from the Buddhist tradition can be used in everyday life and in solving global problems.

On the contrary, painful emotions can be appreciated as a challenging opportunity for new discovery.

Making Friends with Death: A Buddhist Guide to Encountering Mortality by Judith L. Lief

In particular, the author discusses meditation as a practical way to uncover Author : Herbert V. Tibet has been shrouded in mystery, and "tantra" has been called upon to name every kind of esoteric fantasy.


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In The Dawn of Tantra the reader meets a Tibetan meditation master and a Western scholar, each of whose grasp of Buddhist tantra is real and unquestionable. This collaboration is both true to the intent of the ancient Tibetan teachings and relevant to contemporary Western life. Edited by Judith Lief "Dharma art" refers to creative works that spring from the awakened meditative state, characterized by directness, unselfconsciousness, and nonaggression.

Trungpa Rinpoche shows that dharma art provides a vehicle to appreciate the nature of things as they are and express it without any struggle or desire to achieve. Trungpa also presents the practice of meditation as the means that enables us to see our psychological situation clearly and directly. The tantric paradigm for this process is the story of the Indian master Naropa , who is among the enlightened teachers of the Kagyu lineage of the Tibetan Buddhism. Naropa was the leading scholar at Nalanda, the Buddhist monastic university, when he embarked upon the lonely and arduous path to Enlightenment.

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After a ser In the West, Marpa is best known through his teacher, the Indian yogin Naropa, and through his closest disciple, Milarepa. This lucid and moving translation of a text composed by the author of The Life of Milarepa and The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa documents the fascinating life of Marpa, who, unlike many other Tibetan masters, was a layman, a skillful businessman who raised a family while training his disciples. As a youth, Marpa was inspired to trav Each seminar bore the title "The Nine Yanas.

Nine vehicles, arranged in successive levels, make up the whole path of Buddhist practice. Teaching all nine means giving a total picture of the spiritual journey. The author's nontheoretical, experient This volume also includes the ten traditional Zen oxherding pictures accompanied by a unique commentary that offers an unmistakably Tibetan flavor. Fans of this renowned teacher will enjoy the heartfelt devotional quality of this early work. This unabridged translation emphasizes the practical advice that the book offers to the living.

Edited by David Rome. Author : Pema Chodron This book is about saying yes to life, about making friends with ourselves and our world, about accepting the delightful and painful situation of "no-exit.