“We are all walking toward death, carried by the river of aging. Contemplate on impermanence!”
The Phowa Foundation supports the vision of Anyen Rinpoche to help sentient beings around the world who are ill, in the dying process, or those wishing to prepare for death in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Phowa is a traditional Tibetan Buddhist practice, performed by all lineages, that supports the dying person to release attachments, remember the spiritual teachings they have been given, and offer favorable conditions for liberation or a positive rebirth. It can benefit all beings, Buddhist or non-Buddhist, as well as animals.
Traditionally in Tibet, a lama who has known the dying person would be invited to the bedside and guide him or her through the dying process and the bardo states. For sincere practitioners in the West, we often do not have that opportunity. The Phowa Foundation works to connect our modern world of Western Buddhism with the long-held traditions of our Tibetan Buddhist lineages.
Newsletter Spring 2014 Phowa Foundation
Anyen Rinpoche receives many requests for teachings on Death and Dying and has given talks in many locations this spring, including Rhode Island, Vermont and New York. Always inspiring, his talks encourage students to consider how the spiritual path they are walking can bring them to a peaceful and confident death—or what changes are needed to accomplish this. Many of those attending become interested in the Dying with Confidence program as a way of deepening their spiritual practice and preparing to face their own death and that of their loved ones. The soil is being tilled for another east coast program!
In Denver, current Dying with Confidence students gathered in March for Level II. This was a 3-day retreat full of pith instructions to deepen our understanding of the dying and after-death states, along with further instructions and clarification on wind energy practices and the practice of phowa. As in all of Rinpoche’s teachings, he emphasized the importance of relying on a Lama and on the blessings of the lineage, asking us to look honestly at our levels of devotion, faith, and diligence. Our karma is thick and strong, says Rinpoche, and we need to know how to apply the techniques beyond an intellectual understanding. We must cultivate our mindfulness and discernment in order to recall the teachings when we need them at the time of death and in the bardos after death. We need to know how to receive Vajrayana teachings and keep our commitments—then we will be able to use these teachings in the bardos.
Anyen Rinpoche’s vision for sanghas to care for each other at the time of death manifests easily with his profound teachings. The training inspired students to come together to support sangha members in a compassionate, loving and selfless way.
If you would like information on these upcoming events, please email info@PhowaFoundation.org.
A Phowa Retreat, open to new students by application, will be held this October 26-29 in Denver.
A new Dying with Confidence Training program will begin March 12-16, 2015. We are accepting applications now.
Study groups using Rinpoche’s book, Dying with Confidence, are gathering in Manchester, VT and near Providence, RI. Let us know if you live nearby and would like to attend.
If you are in the Providence/Boston area and would be interested in helping organize or attending a Dying with Confidence program there, email us for more information.
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The Importance of Sangha—Now and at the Time of Death
So many deaths around us--loved ones, acquaintances, those we have never met but hear about from friends and on the news. Even though we may try, it is really impossible to deny death’s presence. Those of us on the Buddhist path use these deaths as reminders of impermanence. Everything changes moment by moment, including ourselves and our own bodies. We work on moving the intellectual understanding to our hearts and deepest knowing—we too will die.
Our sangha had an opportunity to deepen our practices at the time of death with the passing of Anyen Rinpoche’s brother in March. Although we knew the Tibetan Buddhist practice of praying for the dead for 49 days, we had not yet done this together as a sangha. To support our beloved Lama, we came together to practice Sur and recite the King of Aspiration Prayer at least once a day, while Rinpoche also practiced a special Medicine Buddha sadhana.