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Death can come any minute. Are you prepared?; a Zoom-lecture by Ven. Robina organized by the IMI in cooperation with Nalanda Monastery.

On September 18th Ven. Robina gave a motivating lecture on Zoom on being well prepared for death, using a lot of advice from Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Successfully hosted (hybrid) by Nalanda Monastery and the IMI, the lecture was followed by questions and answers. A relevant topic for all practitioners, students, lay and ordained, if you want to be prepared well for death. 

The reason why we organized this teaching is that Rinpoche said (Santa Fe, 2017): ‘First I say this: if first you know how to help yourself when you die, then you will know how to help others. I want to say this first; that one is important. I think at one Kopan course or somewhere, I told the sangha in particular to write down in their diarrhea book what they are going to do when they are going to die. So, write down what you are going to do; it is so important. Not only “I’m going to the beach or to a restaurant,” but write down what you are going to do when you die. When the doctor says you have cancer, when you come to know you are dying, what you are going to do, write it down. That is so important. You can follow that and you can even change it from time to time. Don’t write down garbage. Write what is helpful to not be born in the lower realms and to be born in a pure land or as a human being. If you are smart you should do that. You can help yourself. Then if you can also think in this way, you learn and can help others’. 

Also, Rinpoche said at another talk the same year: Please write down how and what you will practice. If it is not the best, later you can change it to the best. Write it down and follow it when you die, otherwise you will be scared, full of fear, thinking, “My life has been so distracted, I didn’t get to do.…” 

The IMI helps its members following Rinpoche’s advice to store the material and spiritual will in the members’ area of the IMI website. In addition to writing a will, which deals with material things, Rinpoche wants us to make plans regarding the Dharma practices that we want to remember to do at the time of death. For those who find it helpful, the IMI stores an electronic copy of the individual plan for the time of death. These plans would be kept private and be accessible only to the IMI member and to anyone who has received permission from the member. For example, those people who are likely to be present at the time of death and as well, those who help to remember and want to support the practice and meditation.

At Root Institute, Bodhgaya, February 2017, Rinpoche said: ‘So write down in your diary book [that tonglen is the best meditation to do when you are dying] so that you will remember that. Tonglen is the best meditation to do when you are dying. When you die, if you do that meditation, wow, it is the best way of dying. You make your death beneficial for all sentient beings, the numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless sura beings, and numberless asura beings. Your death is made beneficial for every sentient being to achieve enlightenment. You understand? So keep that in mind [instead of wondering,] “I’m dying, what should I do? Should I go to hospital?” 

In Singapore, I told people to write down in a book what they want to do and what they want to meditate on when they are dying. Besides your will, write down the meditations that you are going to do and how you are going to think when you die. You must write it down. Write this down now to prepare their minds. It is very important!

Ven. Robina explained that the latest book, published in paperback, called ‘How to face death without fear’ is written in a chronological order. First some general background about what happens at death, then what to do how to help the loved ones some months before one passes, then what to do some weeks before one passes, then what to do days before, then at the time of death, etc.. Plus, a lot of scenarios of how and where one can die, and then what to do. How we can help others and therefore also ourselves. Wisdom published the book earlier in a beautiful edition, but the presentation was a bit confusing. Therefore, the paperback version is the same, but the information is better presented, and is now also in a digital version available.

Ven Robina: ‘It was such a fortunate experience to prepare the book, to listen again to many of Rinpoche’s old teachings as Rinpoche had given so many teachings on this topic, to select them carefully, structure them and edit them. Still, I don’t believe deep down I am going to die, but I got a lot from all that advice. Not that I have now the complete right view, but I learned a lot. One thing I learned, for example, is that it is good to make aspirations to go to a Pure Land. Initially, I didn’t like that idea as an alternative of how other prayed ‘May I go to Heaven’. I learned the benefit of making prayers of going to a Pure Land, like Amithaba Pure Land, which is accessible for humans without realizations. Rinpoche said that His Guru told him that it is possible to get enlightened there. If we want to get enlightenment quickly, so it made sense to me’.

Ven. Robina quoted Rinpoche at the beginning of the book: ‘Helping our loved ones at the time of death is the best service we can offer them, our greatest gift. Why? Because life is the most important moment of life. It’s at death where the next rebirth is determined’. She continued: ‘It is the essence of the Vajrayana point of view. Nowadays there has been so much more awareness of helping people to die than when I started to teach, people helping children to die, etc. In this industry so many more people work there these days. But the essence of Buddha’s teachings and the Vajrayana is to make sure, that you are there to help your loved one, or the mouse or the dog, who never got the death process and as confident as you can give them at a bare minimum (another) human rebirth! That is the point of the entire book. It is all about the actual time of death!’

You can listen to the complete lecture of Ven. Robina on Youtube:

in Spanish:

in Italian:

in French:

You can order the book ‘How to face death without fear’ here:

HH the Dalai Lama: ‘Death as a Part of Life’:

Dharma Will

Death Personal Wish Form

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