Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Will
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Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Will » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:54 pm

Buddhism has many methods to assist the dying Buddhist. Here is one for non-Buddhists that Tulku Thondup suggests. He has an entire chapter in his Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth on helping the dying.
Even if the dying or dead person is not a Buddhist or not even open to Buddhism, the following formulas will be beneficial, safe, and respectful. Helpers can use them all or tailor any part of them that will suit the need of the particular dying person. They are based on Buddhist principles but have universal qualities and appeal.

In the sky above, imagine that you are seeing the source of blessings in the form of beings of light. These beings of great beauty, unconditional love, boundless joy, amazing peace, profound power, and total openness are sending light rays of warmth and joy in all directions with love.

See that beams of blessing lights are radiating from the source of blessings. These blessing lights are filling the whole atmosphere with a feeling of great peace and joy that dispels all the darkness of confusion, sadness, and fear.

Hear the singing sound of celebratory words, sounds, or prayers filling the atmosphere like a symphony. Feel the boundless joy, amazing peace, and total openness created by the vibrations of sound.

Think and feel that the deceased person is seeing the beautiful blessing lights, hearing the soothing sounds, and feeling the boundless love, peace, and openness, the qualities of the blessing light.

Finally, feel that you and the deceased person are merged in an indivisible state, in the womb of the boundless light of total peace and joy. Rest and relax in it for as long as you can. Do this again and again.

Now and then, express strong aspirations by thinking or saying, “May [name of the deceased] be with the blessing lights and enjoy peace and joy in the bardo [transition] and in all his or her future lives.”
This is what he means by 'source of blessings':
Source of blessings: In this book, this term denotes any object of prayer, reverence, refuge, protection, and blessing. It could consist of any higher, inner, or true blessing sources such as buddhas, bodhisattvas, saints, sages, or adept masters. Any mental object will be a powerful source of blessings if it has positive qualities and is appreciated by the mind as positive. The dying and dead as well as their helpers must rely on sources of blessings as the object or support for their prayers, meditations, and/or rites. The ultimate source of blessings is in ourselves, as we all possess buddha-nature. However, until we have realized our own potential, we must rely on an external source of blessings to awaken our own blessed nature and qualities.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

confusedlayman
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by confusedlayman » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:03 pm

Will wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:54 pm
Buddhism has many methods to assist the dying Buddhist. Here is one for non-Buddhists that Tulku Thondup suggests. He has an entire chapter in his Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth on helping the dying.
Even if the dying or dead person is not a Buddhist or not even open to Buddhism, the following formulas will be beneficial, safe, and respectful. Helpers can use them all or tailor any part of them that will suit the need of the particular dying person. They are based on Buddhist principles but have universal qualities and appeal.

In the sky above, imagine that you are seeing the source of blessings in the form of beings of light. These beings of great beauty, unconditional love, boundless joy, amazing peace, profound power, and total openness are sending light rays of warmth and joy in all directions with love.

See that beams of blessing lights are radiating from the source of blessings. These blessing lights are filling the whole atmosphere with a feeling of great peace and joy that dispels all the darkness of confusion, sadness, and fear.

Hear the singing sound of celebratory words, sounds, or prayers filling the atmosphere like a symphony. Feel the boundless joy, amazing peace, and total openness created by the vibrations of sound.

Think and feel that the deceased person is seeing the beautiful blessing lights, hearing the soothing sounds, and feeling the boundless love, peace, and openness, the qualities of the blessing light.

Finally, feel that you and the deceased person are merged in an indivisible state, in the womb of the boundless light of total peace and joy. Rest and relax in it for as long as you can. Do this again and again.

Now and then, express strong aspirations by thinking or saying, “May [name of the deceased] be with the blessing lights and enjoy peace and joy in the bardo [transition] and in all his or her future lives.”
This is what he means by 'source of blessings':
Source of blessings: In this book, this term denotes any object of prayer, reverence, refuge, protection, and blessing. It could consist of any higher, inner, or true blessing sources such as buddhas, bodhisattvas, saints, sages, or adept masters. Any mental object will be a powerful source of blessings if it has positive qualities and is appreciated by the mind as positive. The dying and dead as well as their helpers must rely on sources of blessings as the object or support for their prayers, meditations, and/or rites. The ultimate source of blessings is in ourselves, as we all possess buddha-nature. However, until we have realized our own potential, we must rely on an external source of blessings to awaken our own blessed nature and qualities.
What instruction for buddhist ? who already know the very basic?
non-agitation is highest peace
living unaffected by other cause and condition to suffering is true bliss
not associating with stupid people is immediate peace
- CL (confused layman)

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Bundokji
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Bundokji » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:11 pm

confusedlayman wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:03 pm
What instruction for buddhist ? who already know the very basic?
The following might answer your question

And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:38 pm

confusedlayman wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:03 pm
What instruction for buddhist ? who already know the very basic?
This video @ around 43.20 is good.



and you might try Googling others, like this:

https://www.ashfordstpeters.info/images/other/PAS03.pdf

chownah
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by chownah » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:49 pm

There is a sutta which I have seen recently which gives suggestions on how to attend to people who are at different levels of knowledge in the dhamma at the time of their death.....but I have looked and have not been able to find it....maybe someone else can find it.
chownah

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Will
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Will » Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:59 pm

So far, I notice no interest, much less guidance, in helping the dying person who is not a Buddhist.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

binocular
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:05 pm

Will wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:59 pm
So far, I notice no interest, much less guidance, in helping the dying person who is not a Buddhist.
One would be crossing a fundamental boundary by giving religiously specific instructions to a person who is not a member of said religion, even more so at the time of their death.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Will
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Will » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:22 pm

binocular wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:05 pm
Will wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:59 pm
So far, I notice no interest, much less guidance, in helping the dying person who is not a Buddhist.
One would be crossing a fundamental boundary by giving religiously specific instructions to a person who is not a member of said religion, even more so at the time of their death.
The quote from the Tulku in the OP gave nothing specific religiously, but just the opposite.

Do Theravadins only help only Theravadins when they need help - whatever the situation?
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

binocular
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:26 pm

Will wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:22 pm
The quote from the Tulku in the OP gave nothing specific religiously, but just the opposite.
?? Of course it is religious. Look at the vocabulary and the concepts -- it's evident this is Vajrayana or Mahayana.
Do Theravadins only help only Theravadins when they need help - whatever the situation?
It's more about who is able to help whom, and whose help will be appreciated and whose won't.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:33 pm

Will wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:54 pm
Buddhism has many methods to assist the dying Buddhist. Here is one for non-Buddhists that Tulku Thondup suggests. He has an entire chapter in his Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth on helping the dying.
/.../
Do you know any non-Buddhist who would be happy if their loved ones would think thoughts like this at their deathbed?
What about respect for the non-Buddhist?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Will
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Will » Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:06 pm

binocular wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:33 pm
Will wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:54 pm
Buddhism has many methods to assist the dying Buddhist. Here is one for non-Buddhists that Tulku Thondup suggests. He has an entire chapter in his Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth on helping the dying.
/.../
Do you know any non-Buddhist who would be happy if their loved ones would think thoughts like this at their deathbed?
What about respect for the non-Buddhist?
Whether religious or non-religious, if no one close to the dying is available, what Xtian would object to:
In the sky above, imagine that you are seeing Jesus and the Saints in the form of beings of light. These beings of great beauty, unconditional love, boundless joy, amazing peace, profound power, and total openness are sending light rays of warmth and joy in all directions with love.
Or for the non-religious:
In the sky above, imagine that you are seeing beings of light. These beings of great beauty, unconditional love, boundless joy, amazing peace, profound power, and total openness are sending light rays of warmth and joy in all directions with love.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

binocular
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:16 pm

Will wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:06 pm
Whether religious or non-religious, if no one close to the dying is available, what Xtian would object to:
In the sky above, imagine that you are seeing Jesus and the Saints in the form of beings of light. These beings of great beauty, unconditional love, boundless joy, amazing peace, profound power, and total openness are sending light rays of warmth and joy in all directions with love.
1. Would _you_ think that for a Christian?

2. I think many Christians would object to that.

Or for the non-religious:
In the sky above, imagine that you are seeing beings of light. These beings of great beauty, unconditional love, boundless joy, amazing peace, profound power, and total openness are sending light rays of warmth and joy in all directions with love.
I know at least three people who would consider such things disrespectful.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Will
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Will » Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:19 pm

So bino, what you are saying is that a good Theravadin cannot help a dying non-Buddhist and may even harm?

Wonder what percentage of lay & monastic Theravadins agree?
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

dharmacorps
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by dharmacorps » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:16 pm

Will, here is a helpful link:

https://www.insightmeditationcenter.org ... ndDead.pdf

This is for Buddhist Chaplains particularly Theravdins by Gil Fronsdal. I believe it is quite good. I even have a copy with my documents like Advance Health Directive/Will/end of life stuff.

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Nicolas
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Re: Helping the Dying non-Buddhist

Post by Nicolas » Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:09 pm

Helping the dying non-Buddhist, one might encourage them to let go of their loves ones, let go of the world, let go of life and accept one's death so as to die in peace, to not resist death, to not have greed for experiences or things or beings or anything in the world, anything they did or didn't do or want to do, to not have aversion towards death and dying, to be encouraged to embrace and accept "I must be parted and separated from everyone and everything dear and agreeable to me" (AN 5.57).

Phrases like "it's okay, let go, you can let go" come to mind.

Perhaps encouraging one to stay mindful in the present moment and not to be taken away and overwhelmed by one's thoughts and feelings, perhaps encouraging a focus on the breath ("just breathe, just breathe").

Perhaps reminding them that they are not alone, that literally everyone has gone through this before, all humans and other beings in the past were able to die, they can do it too.

Generally speaking, anything that is appeasing.

These are my own thoughts, I have no experience in the matter.

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