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Consciousness Transference: Natural Liberation through Recollection

Practitioners of this cycle of teachings who commence with the Preliminary Practice (Chapter 1), and purify all their negativity and obscurations, generated by their past actions, through the practice of the Natural Liberation of Habitual Tendencies, the Hundredfold Homage and the Confession (Chapters 5-7), and who also experientially cultivate the practices described in the Introduction to Awareness (Chapter 4), will, in the best of cases, attain liberation from cyclic existence in this very lifetime.
However, those who are unable to realise this level of achievement should implement the instructions on consciousness transference described in this chapter at the time of their own death.
This wonderful practice is classed among the few that do not require previous experience of Vajray Sna meditational practices in order to be effective. Once guidance has been received from a qualified spiritual teacher, the practitioner should follow the course of training, outlined in this chapter, until the signs of accomplishment arise. Then, the practitioner should maintain this proficiency throughout his or her life.
It is regarded as extremely beneficial if those that are accomplished in this practice perform this consciousness transference in support of other people or animals when they are dying. This should be begun during the interval between the cessation of the outer respiration and the cessation of the inner respiration, at the point when the mind and body separate, and can be continued for an appropriate period after death.
As the text stresses, at the time of the practitioner’s own death, it is critically important that this technique is only actually implemented at the exact moment of death.
Herein is contained an oral instruction entitled Consciousness Transference: Natural Liberation [through Recollection]1 which relates to the intermediate state of the time of death. This is the fourth topic in the Guide to the Six Intermediate States according to the Perfection Stage,2 which is an extract from the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: A Profound Sacred Teaching, [entitled] Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention3
This Consciousness Transference: Natural Liberation through Recollection, which is the fourth topic [in the Guide to the Six Intermediate States according to the Perfection Stage, and which specifically contains] guidance on the intermediate state of the time of death, will [now] be presented.4
This Consciousness Transference: Natural Liberation through Recollection is a powerful method, a means for attaining buddhahood which does not [necessarily] require meditation. This oral instruction through which buddhahood can be attained at the time of death is [therefore] most valuable for those who have not trained in the cycle of Cutting through Resistance, or [in the meditations of] the Illusory Body, Dream Yoga, and Inner Radiance, and have [therefore] not realised the truth of the four modes of liberation. In particular, [it is valuable] for ordinary persons, officials, householders and distracted individuals who have had no time to meditate, despite having received those [instructions]. That is, [it is valuable to all] those who have not engaged in experiential cultivation, even though they may have obtained profound teachings, and who, [as a consequence], may die in an ordinary frame of mind, having left the instructions as [unrealised] words, or having left [their relationship to] the [sacred] teachings as a [mere] theoretical understanding.
Now, anyone who is born is subsequently certain to die. Yet the time of death is unknown. Indeed, since one’s death might be imminent, one should be constantly alert to [the signs which por-tend] death. In accordance with the Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] the Visual Indications and Signs of Death/ one should analyse the signs indicative of remote death, the signs indicative of near death, the signs indicative of uncertain death, and the signs indicative of5 inevitable death. One should also persevere with [the practices contained in] the Ritual Deception of Death, as these correspond to the signs of death which might appear.6 If, on the other hand, one were to perform this consciousness transference, either when the signs of death are not fully present or even when the signs are fully present but without having [first] practised the ritual deception of death, then one would, in effect, incur the crime of slaying a deity, and the crime of committing suicide. This is an even greater misdeed than committing [one of the five] inexpiable crimes. Thus, it is essential that one should perform the general and specific ritual deceptions of death, whichever is appropriate, three times or as often as is required, in accordance with the Natural Liberation of Fear through the Ritual Deception of Death.7 If, despite having performed the [appropriate] ritual deception of death on three occasions, the indications of death are unaltered, this demonstrates that death is certain to occur. It is at this time [only] therefore that one should begin to engage in the [actual practice of] consciousness transference.
Since it is said that [this practice may confer] higher rebirth or liberation even on one who has committed the five inexpiable crimes, the timely application of consciousness transference can be of extremely great benefit.
[The practice of] consciousness transference has two aspects: [namely] training and the actual application.
First, with regard to training: just as, for example, when a man faces the inevitability of the arrival of an external foe, before his enemy approaches, he will prepare armour, weapons, and arrows, and train in the arts [of warfare], but only don [and apply] these when the enemy [actually] arrives and strikes, so, in this context, the training takes place before the indications of death have arisen. Since one does not know when one will die, training should be undertaken from the present moment, for it is essential that [one is able] to complete the actual application [of consciousness transference] successfully, when death becomes certain.
Now, the training in consciousness transference may be undertaken [in two contexts]: at times when [general] guidance [on preliminary practices] is being given, or when specific guidance on consciousness transference is being given, whichever is appropriate.8
As found in the preliminary practices of the [general] guidance,9one should reflect upon the difficulty of obtaining [a human form endowed with] freedoms and opportunities [conducive to practice], and [one should reflect on] the sufferings of cyclic existence, and develop an attitude which is disillusioned with cyclic existence and desirous of renunciation. Furthermore, even though one has obtained [the above freedoms and opportunities], which are difficult to obtain, one should [always], from the depths of one’s heart, remember death, which is never far away.
Then, sitting on a comfortable seat in the posture of the bodhisattvas, one should, in the following manner, close the orifices [of the body which lead to rebirth] within cyclic existence:
The body should be upright and erect. The hands should cover the knees, forming the earth-touching gesture,10 and the shoulders should be drawn upwards. Then, in one’s own heart one should visualise an azure blue syllable hum, blazing with light, from which a single syllable hum breaks away and descends to the rectum, precisely blocking the orifice through which the hells are entered. Another syllable hum breaks away and descends to the orifice of procreation, thereby blocking the entrance to [the realm of] the anguished spirits. Similarly, another syllable hum [breaks away and] blocks the entrance [to the world of] animals, which is in the urethra, while yet another syllable hum moves to the navel, and others to the mouth, the nostrils, the eyes, and the ears, each one precisely blocking its respective orifice.11
Then, on the crown of the head, one should visualise that the crown fontanelle is blocked by a downward-facing white syllable ham.12 [Further, one should visualise] the central channel, in the middle of the body, straight and erect, with a yellowish white lustre, like a taut air-filled sheep’s intestine, with its lower extremity extending below the navel, and its upper extremity extending to the crown fontanelle. At the lower extremity below the navel, at a focal point where the three [main] channels converge,13 one should visualise a brilliant white seminal point, which is the essence of awareness, radiant and clear, breathing rhythmically, continuously pulsating, and on the verge of ascending.
In the space above the crown of the head, one should visualise one’s spiritual teacher, seated, full of joy, in the form of Vajradhara. Then, one’s bodily weight should be [drawn in and] concentrated upwards, and the rectum forcefully closed. The eyes should be turned upwards, the tongue [lifted to] rest along the upper palate, and the hands firmly placed in the ‘fist’ gesture,14 with the thumbs pressing down on the bases of the fourth fingers.
[Then], from below the navel, the seminal point is moved forcefully upwards, and, through the engagement of speech, it is elevated with the support of guttural gasps pronounced as ‘hi-ka hi-ka’. Through the force of the vital energy below, the seminal point is unable to resist being accelerated upwards through the central channel. By this method, it is moved upwards, with seven hi-ka gasps, to the navel. Then, with a further seven hi-ka gasps it reaches the heart, with a further seven it reaches the throat, and with a further seven it reaches the space between the eyebrows. Then, uttering hi-ka, [a final time], the seminal point makes contact with the syllable ham at the crown fontanelle, after which one should visualise that it spins downwards again and comes to rest below the navel as a white diffusion. Rest in that state for some time.
By simply repeating this exercise a few times, signs will emerge that this [training in] consciousness transference has taken effect: a sensation of warmth will well up at the crown fontanelle, and there will be sensations of prickliness, irritation, numbness, and swelling, while the crown of the head will seem to become supple and numb, and serous fluid, blood, and so forth will emerge at the crown fontanelle. When this occurs, the spiritual teacher should carefully examine the crown fontanelle: a peacock feather or stalk of grass should be inserted [into the fontanelle] so that it settles into [the fontanelle]. This [insertion] confirms that the training in consciousness transference has been successfully achieved.
If you do not stop at this point, your practice can limit your lifespan. Therefore, one should cease the visualisation and yogic exercises, and the crown of the head should be massaged with butter or grain-seed oil. If, on the other hand, the signs do not appear, [the seminal point] should be moved upwards many times by vigorous effort until the signs eventually do emerge.
Furthermore, swelling may occur on the crown of the head, and if [the seminal point] remains localised at the crown fontanelle [and the fontanelle is not breached], headaches and similar [uncomfortable sensations] will occur. Therefore, one should visualise that the syllable ham at the crown fontanelle is opened up, and that the seminal point emerges vertically from the crown fontanelle, touches the feet of the spiritual teacher [visualised above], and then descends again through the fontanelle to rest motionless below the navel. By repeating this exercise, just a few times, the crown fontanelle will be opened, blood or serous fluid will certainly emerge, and the blade of grass can then be inserted.
After this, it is very important that the crown fontanelle be re-blocked by the syllable ham, for not doing so could limit your lifespan.
Subsequently [in training], when manoeuvring the seminal point up and down within the central channel without the hi-ka breathing and yogic exercises, it remains very important to keep the crown fontanelle blocked with the syllable ham.
The [training in] consciousness transference should be practised in the above manner.
However, because hi-ka is a mantra which reduces the lifespan, this should only be used until [training in] consciousness transference is successful. Otherwise, after [the training] has been successful, do not resort to the hi-ka breathing. If, on account of excessive exertion, one overdoes [the training in] consciousness transference, one will run the risk of lapsing into perpetual unconsciousness. In such cases, and if the consciousness has risen too precipitously, and one experiences vertigo and so forth, one should beat the soles of the feet with the fists and massage the crown of the head. Then, while focusing intensely on the visualisation of an extremely heavy golden stupa on the soles of the feet, one should perform many yogic jumps, so that [the consciousness] is becalmed. These essential points are to be generally observed in the course of the practical training.
The ‘consciousness transference of the training phase’ which has just been described should be carefully practised while one is in good health, and before the signs of death emerge, samaya!
[The Timing and Context]
Secondly, the application phase refers to the actual transference of consciousness, which is to be undertaken when the indications of death are unequivocally present and when, even after performing the [appropriate] ritual deception of death [practice] on three occasions, it is indicated that one will not recover. There are four [modes of actual consciousness transference], namely: consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Reality; consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource; consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Emanation; and the consciousness transference of ordinary persons.
Concerning these, it is said [in the Root Verses of the Six Intermediate States]:15
Alas, now as the intermediate state of the time of death arises before me,
Renouncing [all] attachment, yearning and subjective apprehension in every respect,
I must undistractedly enter the path, on which the oral teachings are clearly understood,
And eject my own awareness into the uncreated expanse of space.
Now, when the signs of the onset of the intermediate state of the time of death are provoked by fatal illnesses, at this time, when the indications of death are completely present, there are oral instructions which bring clearly to mind that which may be obscured during the intermediate state of the time of death. [The clarity of these instructions] is likened to [the clarity of] an elegant lady looking into a mirror. These [instructions] are twofold: a clarification which is elucidated by another16 and a clarification undertaken by oneself.
In the former context: regardless of whether or not one perceives the unequivocal presence of the signs of [one’s own impending] death, these signs will be recognised by the physician and by the nurses, based on [their knowledge of] the behavioural changes which occur.17 Nonetheless, if one’s own mindfulness remains clear, one should also examine the indications of near death of one’s own accord. In any case, when [it is thus ascertained that] one is dying, an invitation should be sent to one’s root spiritual teacher if he or she lives nearby, and all one’s possessions should be offered to the teacher, without even a single instant of attachment. If one remains even slightly attached [to worldly goods], one may be cast into inferior existences, as recounted in the story of the monk Barwasum.18
If an individual is unable to make such offerings in actuality, these should be offered mentally, and thereby a complete state of renunciation should be achieved. In particular, one should not leave any object at all close to [the dying person] which could give rise to attachment or aversion. This is the sense of the verse ‘Renouncing [all] attachment, yearning and subjective apprehension in every respect.’ At this time, renunciation should be generated stainlessly. As it is said in the Tantra of the Coalescence of Sun and Moon:19
In particular, one should please with offerings and feasts One’s own spiritual teacher, the monastic community, And the field of accumulated merits.20
Once the spiritual teacher has arrived, one should confess any former violations or breaches of the commitments, if any; and make amends for any transgressions or downfalls previously committed. If one holds any vows, these should be reaffirmed, and if no vows are held, these should be taken on the basis of the Rite of Going for Refuge.21 Then, if one has had previous experience in [the practice of] consciousness transference, one should assume the appropriate bodily posture, and the visualisation should be repeatedly elucidated by one’s spiritual teacher, in accordance with the [specific tradition] of consciousness transference one formerly practised.22 Thereupon, it should take effect. As an indication of success, as soon as one has expired, the signs that this transference has been effective, such as blood or serous fluid [appearing] at a swelling on the crown of the head, will certainly emerge.
If these signs do emerge, there will be no need to elucidate the intermediate states. But if they do not appear, the spiritual teacher should place his or her lips close to the ear, or else place a bamboo reed or a hollow tube of paper close to the ear, and through it slowly elucidate the verses [describing] the intermediate states in succession, starting with the intermediate state of reality or inner radiance, in accordance with the Liberation by Hearing.23 If this is done appropriately, it is certain that [these instructions] will be effective. [The reason for their effectiveness can be illustrated as follows]: If, for example, a powerful king were to dispatch a mes-sage through a reliable person, it would be impossible for that person to forget [the message]. He would communicate it absolutely, fearing that royal reproach would ensue if he were to forget. Similarly, in this context, too, fearing the abyss of the lower existences, one will certainly retain the instructions in mind, and thereby achieve certainty as to [the nature] of the intermediate state of reality.
If one’s spiritual teacher is not present, the elucidation should be made by a spiritual friend holding the same teaching lineage [as oneself], or else by a fellow spiritual sibling whose commitments have not been dissipated, and whose view and conduct are sympathetic.
It is said in the Tantra of the Coalescence of Sun and Moon:
At that time, the oral instructions of the spiritual teacher Should saturate one’s mental continuum. These truths should be repeatedly elucidated. The elucidation should be made repeatedly by a spiritual teacher, spiritual friend, or by a fellow spiritual sibling.
Such is the form of the clarification which should be made by others [who are caring for a dying person].
Secondly, the clarification to be undertaken by oneself [at the time of one’s own death] is applicable in cases where the spiritual teacher and fellow students have not gathered together, or where one dies alone in a hermitage, or when one already has a refined experience [of consciousness transference] and does not require an elucidation to be made by others. In such cases, one should bring clearly to mind the practices which one formerly experientially cultivated.
Consciousness Transference into the
Buddha-body of Reality
Now, if one is a person who has some understanding of inner radiance, who has cultivated the view of emptiness, and encountered it directly in [one’s own] awareness, the consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Reality is the supreme [method].
Thus, when this is undertaken, one should first ensure, as above, that one is completely without a single possession which could generate attachment or aversion. If one is capable, one should secure one’s body in the seven postures [of Vairocana], or sit upright. If this is not possible, one should lie on one’s right side, with the head pointing north, and repeatedly think: ‘Now that I am about to die, how fortunate am I to be able to effect the transference of consciousness based on a profound instruction such as this, while in the three realms of cyclic existence in general and in particular in this degenerate age. So today, I shall now recognise the inner radiance of death to be the Buddha-body of Reality, and consequently take birth as an inestimable number of emanations, in order to guide each in accord with his or her needs. I must act on behalf of sentient beings until cyclic existence has been emptied!’ In this way, generate the altruistic intention [to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others] fervently and repeatedly. Then, one should think undistractedly, as follows: ‘I must attend to [the words of] my spiritual teacher, and must [act] in accordance with the content of the profound teachings which I [formerly] received.’ The whole point is that one should not be distracted from a state in which the oral instructions are clearly held in mind.
Then, without concocting thoughts, one should free oneself from the [dualistic] framework of the object, which is to be trans-migrated, and the [subjective] act of consciousness transference. Intrinsic awareness should be uncontrived and clear, undistracted and distinct, stark in its [coalescence of] radiance and emptiness. Let [this experience] remain unmoving for a prolonged period. If one expires in this state, the mother and child inner radiances, that is to say the inner radiance of the ground and the inner radiance of the path which is the focus of one’s current meditation, will encounter each other, like a stream meeting the main river. [Thus], one will attain the uncreated Buddha-body of Reality, in an upward-moving core-penetrating manner; and liberation will be instantaneous. This is called the ‘pure consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Reality’ because those who have highly developed experience and realisation need repeat only this, again and again. It is the best of all modes of consciousness transference.
Now, in the case of those who have not recognised [intrinsic awareness] and who are without experience and realisation, though they may well try to apply this consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Reality, [this would be ineffectual]. It would be [like trying] to show a material object to someone who has been blind from birth, or [like trying] to point out a [particular] star to a dog. It is very important, therefore, that the [method of] consciousness transference and the manner of its clarification correspond to the mental capacity of the individual.
If, however, the consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Reality is effected in the above manner, as an ‘outer sign’, the sky will become clear and unclouded; and as an ‘inner sign’, the body will glow radiantly and its lustre will not fade for a long time. The ‘secret signs’ include the appearance of the white syllable am and the azure syllable MOM [among the cremated relics].24
Such is [the instruction on] the consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Reality, samaya!
Consciousness Transference into the Buddha-
body of Perfect Resource
If one chiefly practises the generation stage [of meditation] and particularly if one has little certainty with regard to [the experience of] emptiness, one should undertake the consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource. If one is capable of securing one’s body in an upright position, adopting as suggested before the appropriate bodily posture, then one should sit upright and bring clearly to mind the visualisations of consciousness transference, as previously practised during one’s training. In particular, one should clearly visualise above the crown of one’s head, upon a lotus, sun and moon cushion, one’s spiritual teacher [in the form of] the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource. [The teacher may be visualised as] the great Vajradhara, or Vajrasattva, Avalokitesvara, and so forth, and especially as one’s own particular meditational deity, following whichever [practices of] the generation stage one prefers. One should meditate clearly on the essence of intrinsic awareness as a white seminal point, [situated] below the navel at the lower extremity of the central channel within the body; or alternatively, [one should clearly visualise here] the seed-syllable of one’s very own meditational deity: a white syllable ah, an azure syllable hum, a red syllable hrih, and so forth, as appropriate.25It will be best if one [also] clearly visualises that [each of] the orifices [of one’s body] is blocked by the syllable hum; but if this is not visualised, one should focus one’s consciousness single-pointedly within the central channel, without mentally engaging the orifices.
Then, one’s bodily weight should be [drawn in and] concentrated upwards, and the rectum forcefully closed. The eyes should be turned upwards, and the tongue [lifted to] rest along the [upper] palate. The lower vital energy should be moved upwards, while focusing one’s consciousness within the central channel. Then, in conjunction with a series of hi-ka hi-ka gasps, [the seminal point] should be moved successively upwards until it reaches the crown fontanelle. There, it breaks open the orifice of the crown fontanelle, which had been blocked by the syllable ham, and shoots upwards, like an arrow, blazing with white light, and then it dissolves into the heart of the meditational deity [seated above]. One’s awareness should then be focused upwards into the heart of the meditational deity, and without letting it descend, it should be repeatedly drawn in, and absorbed [into the deity’s heart]. Then, finally, [the visualisation of] the meditational deity should also be dissolved into a non-referential state. If one’s breath ceases while [resting] in that state, one will attain the status of an awareness holder, inseparable from the meditational deity; and achieve buddhahood in the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource.
If the consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource does take effect in the above manner, as an ‘outer sign’, the sky will be filled with rainbows and light; and as an ‘inner sign’, blood or serous fluid will emerge from the crown fontanelle at the top of the head, or dew-like drops, swellings, and so forth will also appear. The ‘secret signs’ include the appearance of any one of the five types of bone relic, and the appearance of [bone relics] shaped like the physical form or hand-implement of a deity, and so forth.26
Such is the consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, SAMAYA!
Consciousness Transference into the
Buddha-body of Emanation
As for the appropriate bodily posture, one should lay the body down on its right side, since [this position] will facilitate the departure of the vital energy from the left nostril. Then, one should request that a statue, relief, or drawing of the Buddha-body of Emanation be placed in front of oneself. This could be a representation of the Great Sage [Sakyamuni Buddha], the King of Medicine [Vaiduryaprabharaja], Maitreya, or Padmasambhava of Oddi-yana; or it could be an image of one’s own spiritual teacher or spiritual friend. Offerings should be extensively arrayed before the [image]. If no image is actually present, clearly visualise one, and make mentally imagined offerings.
Then, all those present, oneself and others, should make the following aspirational prayer, saying, ‘Now, may I, consequent on my death, for the sake of all sentient beings, take birth in an emanational body; and may this be of extensive benefit to all living beings! May this emanational body also be endowed with the major and minor marks, and may there be no obstacles to its lifespan and enlightened activity! May I be reborn as a great awareness holder, holding the lineage of the buddhas of the three times!’
Mentally, too, one should retain this fervent aspiration [constantly], and visualise that within the utterly translucent central channel, the essence of one’s awareness is located in a triangle below the navel, in the form of a white seminal point, tinged with red, which is glistening and concentrated, and on the verge of rising upwards. Immediately, the rectum should be closed and drawn in, so that there is no option but for the seminal point to be forced upwards by the power of the vital energy below. Then, by means of hi-ka hi-ka gasps, which should be performed to the best of one’s ability, [the seminal point] should be moved upwards, and, as it reaches the orifice of the left nostril, the [motion of one’s] awareness should be synchronised with [that of one’s] respiration. Then, in an instant, like an arrow being fired, [one’s awareness] should penetrate the heart of the Buddha-body of Emanation which is before one. Let the vital energy and awareness remain there, without reabsorbing them [into one’s body]. This exercise should be repeated until one’s consciousness does depart [the body]. Consequently, [the transference] is certain to take effect. Once consciousness does depart in that state, it is certain that one will subsequently take birth in an emanational body which will act for the benefit of sentient beings.
If the consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Emanation does occur in the above way, as an ‘outer sign’, clouds or rainbows will appear in the sky, some resembling a wish-granting tree or unfurled white silk, or a shower of flowers, and so forth. As an ‘inner sign’, blood, serous fluid, or generative fluid will emerge from the left nostril; or else dew-like drops, and so forth may appear. The ‘secret signs’ include the appearance of many small relics, a complete unbroken skull, and [bones in the shape of] the hand-emblems of deities.27
Such is the consciousness transference into the Buddha-body of Emanation, SAMAYA!
Instantaneous Consciousness Transference
All the [above methods of consciousness transference are appropriate] in the context of a person whose death is gradual; but in the case of those who die suddenly, there will not be sufficient time to engage in meditations, such as those [just described]. In this case, therefore, the method of instantaneous consciousness transference becomes most important. Since it is unknown what the circumstances of one’s death will be, one should, from this very moment, alternate one’s training, sometimes practising the consciousness-transference technique of the training phase, [described earlier], and sometimes practising the instantaneous consciousness transference.
The [practice] should be undertaken in the following manner: One should establish a clear and mindful resolution, thinking, ‘If I die suddenly, my mental focus should be directed towards the crown of my head!’ This resolution is extremely important. It is similar, for example, to the resolution of someone who thinks that one should get up and leave [home] when the moon rises on the twenty-second day [of the lunar month]. If [this mental focus] is continuously maintained during the evening of the [day before], one will [actually] awaken when the moon rises, just after midnight. In exactly this way, from this very moment onwards, one should practise projecting one’s mental focus upwards to the crown of the head whenever strong fear arises.
Then, when ‘sudden death’ does occur, as when falling straight over a steep precipice, the thought will arise, ‘I am dying!’ As soon as this happens, it would be best if one were to fervently recall one’s spiritual teacher, or recall one’s particular meditational deity, [as being present, seated] on the crown of one’s head. Even if there is not sufficient time to make this recollection, it is essential to project one’s mental focus upwards towards the crown of one’s head. The reason for doing so is that even [ordinarily] now, when strong fear arises, we tend to cry out, ‘O father! spiritual teacher!’ [Similarly] therefore, at the moment [of sudden death] also, it is certainly possible that one will recollect one’s teacher, or [if one has trained in this practice] that one will focus one’s awareness at the crown of one’s head [instinctively]. This is the most profound crucial point.
Likewise, were one to be engulfed by a great fire, or swiftly carried away by a mighty river, or struck on the head by lightning, or pierced by an arrow through the heart, one must immediately recollect one’s spiritual teacher, [as being seated] on the crown of the head, or alternatively one must [at least] direct one’s awareness to the crown of the head. This is called the ‘instantaneous consciousness transference’, and it is also known as the ‘forceful consciousness transference’. As this is most profound, one should train one’s mind assiduously [in this technique].
Moreover, it is said that at times when ordinary people experience strong fears, there are many advantages when they simply cry out ‘O father! spiritual teacher!’ or invoke the name of a buddha, saying, ‘O Orgyan!’28 If this is so, the benefits of [additionally] directing one’s mental focus towards the spiritual teacher, present on the crown of the head, are inconceivable.
There are, altogether, nine different pathways through which consciousness transference can occur, and these are associated with persons of superior, average, and inferior capacity. The aperture of the crown fontanelle is the pathway through which [consciousness] departs to the pure [realm of the] sky-farers. Given this, [it is said that] one will attain liberation if awareness exits through the [crown fontanelle]. Since this is the supreme pathway, it is extremely important that one trains in directing one’s mental focus towards this [aperture]. Furthermore, if consciousness is transferred through the pathway of the eyes, [it is said that] one will be born as a universal monarch, and if it is transferred through the left nostril, one will obtain an unimpaired human body. These are the three optimum apertures [associated with those of superior capacity].
One will, however, be born as a yaksa if [consciousness is transferred] through the right nostril, or as a god of the world-system of form if [it is transferred] through the ears, and as a god of the world-system of desire if [it is transferred] through the navel. These are the three medial apertures [associated with those of average capacity]. Lastly, one will be born as an animal if [it is transferred] through the urethra, as a anguished spirit if [it is transferred] through the sexual passage,29 and as a hell being if it is transferred through the rectum. These are the three inferior apertures [associated with those of inferior capacity]. Given that there are such very great consequential differences between the various apertures through which consciousness transference may occur, there will be inestimable benefits in directing one’s awareness to the crown of the head, at the time of death.
Such is the forceful consciousness transference, SAMAYA!
Consciousness Transference of Ordinary Beings
In the case of those who have not realised the meaning of emptiness, and who do not know the significance of the generation and perfection stages [of meditation], it is the consciousness transference of ordinary beings which should be applied as follows: The head [of the dying person] should point north, with the body lying down on the right side. A spiritual teacher or fellow practitioner should then remind [the dying person] to pay attention, and if health permits, he or she should be encouraged to take refuge, to cultivate an altruistic intention, and to confess negativity. Then, the teacher should confer the vows of the Buddhist laity, and if there is time, the empowerments of the way of secret mantras should be conferred. Consequently, by dying with a positive momentum of past actions, the individual who has [just received] these untainted commitments and vows, with respect to the nature of reality,30 will be liberated from inferior existences, and there will be inestimable advantages.
In the case of a person who cannot do even that, one should slowly call out the name [of the dying one], saying, ‘Lord Mahakarunika is present on the crown of your head! Be reverential!’ One should stroke the crown of his or her head and gently pull the hair above the crown fontanelle. Thereby, the consciousness will [be encouraged to] exit from the crown fontanelle.
In the case of those who cannot do even that, and whose capacity is indistinguishable from that of animals, one should repeat the words, many times, ‘Homage to Buddha Ratnaketu!’, directing these [words] towards the head [of the dying person]. As a consequence, they will certainly be liberated from [rebirth in] the inferior existences, because, when in the past this buddha made his aspirational prayer, he did so, saying, ‘May all who hear my name be liberated from [rebirth in] the inferior existences!’ Alternatively, if one calls out the name of the [Medicine] Buddha Bhaisajyaguru Vaiduryaprabharaja, it is said that just by hearing his name, [the dying person] will be protected from the sufferings of inferior existences. Similarly, one may call out the name of whichever buddha one may know, and recite whichever blessed heart-mantra one may know, such as the Six-syllable Mantra.
In particular, if one has at hand the Liberation by Wearing,31 one should read this aloud, and also recite the Liberation by Hearing,32 repeating whichever aspirational prayers one may know. Since the positive momentum of [the dying person’s] past actions can thereby be secured, this will be most advantageous. In the worst cases, it is said that simply by dying with the body lying down on the right side and the head pointing north, [that person] will not proceed into inferior existences.
In summary, since it is essential that all the advantages [that accrue from] practising the teachings should converge at the time of death, it is extremely important to become skilled [during one’s lifetime] in the process of dying.
[This completes] the Guide to the Intermediate State of the Time of Death entitled Consciousness Transference: Natural Liberation through Recollection.
SAMAYA! rgya rgya rgya!