I’m trying to remember why this subject seemed important to me. I’m trying to find the voice and the train of thought I need to inhabit in order to be able to write this paper.
My stumbling blocks include the belief that I cannot automatically assume that there is anything that transcends cross-cultural understandings and experiences of death. However, the mind (at least, my mind) seeks to understand by relating Buddhist and Tibetan concepts with what I already know.
I already know a bit about death. I know about grief, I know about the suffering it causes. I know about the wish for the eternal, the ever-present, the secure. I understand the need for comfort, for release.
How did the Buddha understand this? At the core of Buddhist beliefs is the idea that suffering is a fundamental quality of life. It isn’t just something you experience at death, but something that is at times an undercurrent, at times and obvious feature, of everyday life.
What I want to know is, how do Tibetan Buddhists make sense of death? In addition, how do people cope with grief in Tibet (the delok accounts admit that its there; the grieving family is warned not to lament openly in order to spare the deceased further suffering and confusion in the bardo state).
Discuss concepts of intermediate state and drops
In Tibetan Buddhism, death isn’t seen as an ending, but a liminal phase in which one’s subtle energy may experience a profound transformation. According to the Buddha, one of sentient beings’ most crucial cognitive errors is belief in an uncreated, immortal, unchanging self (Powers p. 71). Instead of an essential “self,” the Buddha is said to have posited the existence of “5 aggregates”: form, feelings, discriminations, compositional factors, and consciousness (Powers, p. 71). Taking influence from tantric theory, Tibetan Buddhists include these initial 5 attributes in a list of 25 “coarse substances” that make up the psycho-physcial compostion of an ordinary human (Powers, p. 332). According to tantric Buddhism and medical theory, these 25 coarse substances dissolve throughout the death process, culiminating in a state Western medics would consider to be “death” (Powers, pp. 332-4, Cuevas pp. 23-4, Thurman p. 41-44).
(borrowing from Tantric thought) posit that what does remain between lives are “drops,” or subtle energies.
In Tibetan Buddhism, death isn’t seen as an ending, but a liminal phase in which one’s subtle energy may experience a profound transformation.
Although ritual texts suggest that individuals of all capacities can use death as an opportunity to escape cyclic existence altogher, advanced tantric practitioners are particularly well-equipped to take advantage of this opportunity. (describe the process) They can do so by practicing “soul transmission,” a process whereby the tantric yogi
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