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The spiritual support at the moment of death

Publicado por Bel Cesar em STUM WORLD


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Translated into English by Kevin Mathewson -


In October 1992, a great friend, the Buddhist spiritual master, Lama Segyu Rinpoche, told me: "Bel, you are full of so many small fears, I think that all of them put together are one great fear: the fear of dying. Why don't you deal directly with your great fear, and try working with terminally ill patients? In fact, right now, your energy for helping people is very good."
Since I had already at that time decided to help people when they are dying, these words awoke a desire to put my intention into practice, which until then had remained secret.
Fifteen days later, a friend told me that his brother had been suffering from AIDS for the past eight years. He asked if I could help; his brother was going through some hard days because of the deterioration of his health. And so Marcelo, 28 years old, was my first patient.
When I first went to visit him at his house, he was already very weak. I told him I was a psychologist and that his brother had called me. I also told him that in spite of the fact that our situations were very different, we had something in common: I was also afraid of dying.
It might seem that I had an advantage since I wasn't ill, but actually he had an advantage over me: since he could no longer avoid his fear, he would have to devote himself to resolving it, whereas I frequently tried to deny it.
I then told him that I knew a method to help him overcome this fear and that we could walk this path together. He asked to hold my hand and, after looking deeply into my eyes for some time, he said yes, he would like to try what I was proposing.
I worked with him at several different hospitals where he was admitted over an eight-month period. Since public health care in Brazil is generally unreliable, we were obliged to witness along with other patients scenes of great suffering and pain. Since we could not deny this suffering, we learned to face it in each moment. It was easier for the two of us together.
We spent hours talking about the nature of suffering, how it comes and how to transform it. We talked about our lives, our fears and hopes. The encounters were always direct and sincere. Many times we said nothing at all. I was just there, at his side, chanting a mantra, listening to music, holding his hand or conducting his visualizations inspired by the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, with a musical background. I suggested that he visualize a white light on the top of his head coming down and filling his whole body with light. This light eliminated all negativities through the soles of his feet in the form of black smoke. In the end his body was totally filled with white light.
Marcelo had a nice sense of humor. Sometimes, even in moments of physical pain we were able to laugh at his remarks. My contact with his relatives was also very warm, and the trust that developed between us was truly valuable, both a comfort and a source of help.
I sometimes recorded texts on the subjects that we talked about, so that he could listen to them when I wasn't there. I would visit him once or twice a week-sometimes more often, depending on his physical and emotional state.
Two weeks before he died, he said to me: "When I am in pain, I have something to fight against, but when the pain passes, I feel a great emptiness, because I don't have anything to do or to think about, only to wait for death, and I do not want to die".
I felt his pain enter deeply into my heart. Then I told him: "Now you have the most precious opportunity of your life! You can do what you always wanted: to forgive yourself and others for everything, all guilt and resentment. Take advantage of every moment of your awareness to do this".
I taught him then a specific visualization of forgiveness, which can be practiced at any moment in life, especially when we should get rid of resentments. "Visualize a white light on top of your head, that comes from something totally pure. The light enters through the top of your head, penetrating each cell of your body, purifying all negativity until it leaves through every pore of your skin and dissolves into space. Do this until you feel that your entire body is full of white light; until your pores are streaming white light, forming a great flood of brilliant white light around you. Now visualize the person that you want to forgive in front of you, your white light entering into his heart, dissolving his offenses. Your lights join in an expression of forgiveness. Finally, think of that person as actually receiving this energy of forgiveness wherever he may be at this very moment"
As we had already started exercises like this one, Marcelo knew how to do this kind of visualization, but even so, I left some tapes with music for meditation that could help him to concentrate and relax.
At our next meeting, he said he had been practicing the visualization frequently, and that after meditating he would see a white bird flying around in his room. Now he understood much better what it meant to be at peace when he was sad.
By now, Marcelo was so emaciated that even touching him caused him pain. He was no longer able to eat, and he had difficulty in breathing. He asked me to visit him more often.
One night his mother telephoned me to go to the hospital right away, because she felt that her son was about to die. Together with my friend, his brother and wife, we reached the hospital quickly. However, because it was late at night and visiting hours had long since ended, we had to argue with the guard to let us in. Finally he allowed us in for fifteen minutes.
When we entered Marcelo's room, his breathing was already very irregular. His outbreath was longer than his inbreath. A friend held the oxygen mask in front of his mouth. He was conscious but unable to speak. I noticed that he recognized me by his expression and the way he stretched out his hand in my direction. Then, holding his hand, I told him: "Now your suffering is only physical because your mind no longer suffers. It is that white, pure light at the top of your head. Your mind is very happy and everything around you is very beautiful." Marcelo looked up and his gaze remained steady.
I began to sing the Buddhist mantra of Compassion: OM MANI PEME HUNG and soon all those present began to sing along softly. The atmosphere became calm, full of a mild, warm and subtle energy. While I recited a long prayer called Homage to the 21 Taras, Marcelo exhaled sharply three times and died. This prayer involves 21 different aspects of the archetype of the feminine wisdom of the enlightened mind, with a view to eliminating negative interference. According to Tantric Buddhism, after physical death we still have things to do: we can still take care of the body and the mind.Buddhism teaches us to see past immediate appearances, for it recognizes the existence of gross, subtle and very subtle levels of the body, the mind and the internal and external elements. When we speak of the body, for example, we think of the gross level as the physical body, the subtle level as the aura, and the very subtle level as the thread of mental continuity that transmigrates from one life to the next, sustained by winds of very subtle energy. The most essential nature of the very subtle mind is pure as crystal, but in it are registered the marks of the intentions with which we perform the acts of body, speech and mind.
According to Tantric Buddhism, death only truly occurs when the very subtle mind leaves the body, which takes place minutes or even days after the heart and the breathing stop. Each person, owing to his or her particular karma, has a specific moment for the very subtle mind, the essence of our life force, to leave the physical body through one of its nine openings: the anus, the mouth, the urethra, the eyes, the navel, the nose, the ears, the point between the eyebrows and the top of the head.
The top of the head is the most auspicious gateway for departure, for it leads the way to a fortunate rebirth, while the lower openings lead to unfortunate rebirths. To touch the body of someone who has died while the very subtle mind is still moving around inside looking for a way out causes it to leave at the point where the body was touched. This is why it is customary to tug on the hair or to press on the top of the head to attract the mind to depart through this auspicious gateway. The six-syllable mantra Om Ma Ni Pe Me Hung is considered another powerful method for guaranteeing that the mind will leave the body through the top of the head. Each one of the syllables has a powerful energy that can guide the mind towards a higher state.
I placed a little ointment on top of Marcelo's head together with sacred pills prepared by my teacher, Lama Gangchen Rinpoche. At the same time, I pulled his hair to attract the very subtle mind to leave the body through that area. The pills are made in Katmandu, following a centuries-old recipe transmitted by the lineage of Lama Gangchen. Besides containing ingredients considered sacred, such as water from special places and dust scraped off a very ancient statue, they are blessed by Lama Gangchen Rinpoche through his prayers.
With the intention of transmitting peace to Marcelo we remained there for several minutes in silence, all holding hands. Aloud, I dedicated all the positive energy accumulated throughout his life to all the people who need peace when they die. Each of us also made his or her own prayer.
We were still concentrating like this when the guard arrived, informing us that our "fifteen minutes" were already up and that we had to get our car out of the parking lot. To this day, I don't know how the guard managed to find us in that room! I was surprised at the synchronicity with which we managed to accomplish our task of helping Marcelo to die in peace.
The day after Marcelo's death, I had the rare opportunity to meet Lama Zopa Rinpoche, a great Tibetan Lama, who was in São Paulo visiting our Dharma Center. I told him what had happened, and asked him to pray for Marcelo. Smiling, he told me that it was no longer necessary, for Marcelo's consciousness, guided by the white light, had already been transferred to the Pure Land where there is no more suffering.
Six months later his mother showed me a letter, written through a medium at a séance, in which Marcelo sent a message to his mother telling her that he was very well, in a very peaceful place where there were many white birds.

This text is extracted from the book "Morrer não se improvisa" (Death cannot be improvised: stories on the emotional and spiritual needs of people facing the end of life by Bel Cesar Ed. Gaia - october. 2001, São Paulo, Brasil

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O apoio espiritual no momento da morte

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Sobre o autor
Bel Cesar é psicóloga, pratica a psicoterapia sob a perspectiva do Budismo Tibetano desde 1990. Dedica-se ao tratamento do estresse traumático com os métodos de S.E.® - Somatic Experiencing (Experiência Somática) e de EMDR (Dessensibilização e Reprocessamento através de Movimentos Oculares). Desde 1991, dedica-se ao acompanhamento daqueles que enfrentam a morte. É também autora dos livros `Viagem Interior ao Tibete´ e `Morrer não se improvisa´, `O livro das Emoções´, `Mania de Sofrer´, `O sutil desequilíbrio do estresse´ em parceria com o psiquiatra Dr. Sergio Klepacz e `O Grande Amor - um objetivo de vida´ em parceria com Lama Michel Rinpoche. Todos editados pela Editora Gaia.
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