Your past shapes your present and it is your present shapes your future.
The closer one approaches death, the less they believe in eternal oblivion. If the consciousness is going to be permanently cease after the process of dying, one certainly expect the consciousness will gradually decline as we approaching death.
To the others, it appears to be exactly the case, the dying person is speaking less, moving less, and responding less. It is almost natural to draw the conclusion that when one die, they are gone.
However, for the one that is actually dying, they will find it otherwise. It is true that his ability to interact with the world he is familiar with has been reduced. He will have a hard time to hear things that he recognize, seeing thing that he recognize, feeling emotion that he recognize, thinking in the way that he recognize but the consciousness itself has not reduced a bit the whole time.
This is where one realize what people called an eternal soul may have been like. The dying process is merely a termination of our physical body and its related recognition. So what is going to happen next?
Just like the reason that we were born to begin with, us (the consciousness) are habituated to have an identity and an recognition center to make meaning out of the world. When the current recognition center fades, we (in such sense) will gather the impression that we had and create a new identity and recognition center (a body). To properly study the subject, one may reference the text about reincarnation in the Buddhism teaching.
If you know your existence will go on after death, are you going to live the same way that you are living now? If you recognize its your past shapes your present and it is your present shapes your future, will you still hang on your suffering like the way you are now? If your past and its consequence no longer weight you down, will you be interested to prepare or build a future (the consequence of now) of your choice?
While I certainly enjoy to elaborate more, this article is intended to provide people an aid when they are approaching death. Recap from the previous post, there are three aspects that is unpleasant in the process of dying: 1. The suffer of the dying process. 2. The consequence of rebirth in a miserable existence. 3. The consequence of rebirth in a pleasant existence.
Depends on the impression that one have, one will reborn differently. In order to make it easier to communicate, the Buddhism traditional divided all the possibility into six different categories. They are hell, hungry ghost, animal, asura, man, and deva.
Signs and symptoms of a nearly death can give us an idea what sort of impression one have. In consequence, it can also tell which realm one is likely going to rebirth into. Here I provided two guidelines that we can reference and perhaps give us a better insight on the magnitude of danger in the process of dying and rebirth.
Guideline I: Base on the body part that cools down the last.
|If the body part that cools down last after you die is:||You are going to rebirth as / in …|
|Your Chest (or above umbilicus)||Man / Woman|
|Your Lower Abdomen||Hungry Ghost|
Guideline II: Base on different signs & symptom when you are dying.
For people that is going to reborn in Hell, they may show 2-3 of the following signs.
- Angry look staring at friends, spouse, and family.
- Trying to catch the air or looking for something in the air or on the bed confusingly.
- Not open to suggestion about salvation or liberation.
- Sobbing, tearing, crying.
- Eyes shut.
- Covering his head & face.
- Drink and eat while lying on his side.
- Foul odor from the body or mouth.
- Trembling legs and knee.
- Deforming nose turning to the side.
- Left eye lid twitching.
- Reddish eye.
- Lying on his side.
- Curling up and lying left side down.
For people that is going to reborn as Hungry Ghost, they may show 2-3 of the following signs.
- Licking his/her own lips.
- Hot and burning sensation.
- Thirst and hunger.
- Eyes don’t shut.
- Dry eyes.
- Stool incontinence; No urination.
- Right knee cools first
- Holding a fist with the right hand.
For people that is going to reborn as Animal, they may show 2-3 of the following signs.
- Cannot move their eyes away from their spouse and cannot stop thinking about them.
- Curling fingers and toes.
- Whole body sweating.
- Hoarse voice.
- Foam form in or around the mouth.
For people that is going to reborn as Man / Woman, they may show 2-3 of the following signs.
- In a good mood. Feel joyful, peace, generous, worryfree.
- No pain.
- Not much to say but missing his/her parent.
- Feel compassionate regarding his/her spouse. No guilt, no resentment, no pity, no attachment.
- Like to hear the name of families.
- Mentally clear about what is right and what is wrong.
- Peace in mind. Not feeling superior or inferior.
- Aware of the care / love from family.
- Parsing and feel grateful about the help friends and family provided at this period of time.
- Inform about what family shall do after he / she is gone. Arrange and order how property and wealth should go after he / she died.
- Experience faith towards salvation and liberation.
For people that is going to reborn as Deva, they may show 2-3 of the following signs.
- Compassionate about the world and things in this world.
- Pure and kind thought.
- Thought of righteousness.
- No foul smell.
- No deformity of nose.
- No anger
- No attachment to family, spouse, wealth, procession.
- Clear eyes
- Smile, thought of Angel / God / Deva coming to bring him / her into heaven.
Aside from the above scenarios, there are also exceptional cases. Here is an example for someone properly conducted pure land Buddhism practices going to be liberated by Amita Buddha. This sign will show up weeks or months before death. So this person literally speaking do not actually go through the dying process described before.
- Knowing the time & date that he / she will be leaving this world.
- A sense of supreme calmness. Event or things in this life no longer can stir up emotion or thought from this person.
- Showing determination in liberation and worldly things/matter no longer attached to him/her.
- Will stay clean; Bathing, washing, and wear clean clothes.
- Can chant naturally, either out with voice or just in his mind.
- Sit properly just like a Buddha statue
- Mysterious good odor filling up the room or the house.
- Light source shines on him/her.
- Can hear divine music from the air.
- Ability to leave inspiration quote for us (the people still living in this world) to encourage us to pursue salvation and liberation.
1. This information summarized what most likely will happen in the dying and reincarnation process. Except for the last scenario, these sign do not promise the place that you are going to reborn. For example, there has been record where someone reborn as man still having delirium while dying. There are also cases where one is suppose to reborn in heaven got postponed because family has committed killing (of animals) at his funeral.
2. The last scenario above is an exception, when superior power is involved in the process, the salvation is guaranteed as long as there are 2 or 3 signs in the list appears, especially the first one where one knows exactly when he / she will be leaving this world.
So, how can I save myself from dying and rebirth then?
In most cases, the information above are more of a reference for the friends and family only. The person who is dying, will normally suffering too much to notice or care about these signs. At such distress moment, if you are so lucky that you still remember the rescue method I have listed in the previous post, you can apply it immediately and you can still save yourself.
Like I said before, please don`t expect we can function normally like now when we are under such agony. It will be wise to prepare ahead of time and practicing what to do when death suddenly strikes. Accidents happen all the time. Wish you realizing this point and be prepared for the best in the moment of the worst.
At our next post, we are going to talk about the unfortunate event that one didn`t save himself and get to the zone between death and rebirth. What is it going to be like and what will happen when we are in a spirit form of existence?