Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying

Conversation with Phakchok Rinpoche on Prayer and Phowa

Phakchok Rinpoche discusses the benefits of prayer with the Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying Team. In this conversation in New York, he explains the types of practices that are best to do after death, during the key 49-day period. Rinpoche mentions specific practices that we might wish to sponsor. He also notes that these practices are helpful even if the person is not a Buddhist practitioner.

When somebody is dying, even if they have not previously practiced a spiritual path, they may feel comforted when others offer prayers for them. If they are open to this, then there is no problem in offering prayers and explaining a little bit about the Buddha’s compassion. But we should always be sensitive to each situation and check with family members and those at the bedside. And please remember that in any situation, we can always offer silent prayer without making a big production—that way there is no distress for others. So if you sense that family or friends might not feel receptive, you can act silently with great compassion.

And, of course, if someone has practiced during their own life, then spiritual practices can be very beneficial.

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.