Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying

Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying

Noble Living, Noble Caring and Noble Dying describes the outlook we can bring to our human experience. This resource center is the result of many conversations with Phakchok Rinpoche, Tulku Migmar, and experts in the caring profession. We invite you to explore how our Buddhist practice informs our living, caring, and dying so that they are noble: filled with dignity and grace.

Noble Living: Study and Reflections

The Buddhist tradition offers innumerable resources that encourage us to live a noble life. All the masters and adepts advocate an active, lifelong learning process. We open our hearts and minds to the realities of suffering and death. When we stay present with our vulnerabilities instead of ignoring them or pushing them away, we can face challenges with courage and curiosity. And we can be a powerful support for our loved ones and for all those who suffer. 

Four Reminders for Noble Living

In the Buddhist tradition, we speak frequently about Four Mind Changings. The Four reminders, or Four Mind Changings that turn the mind towards the dharma are powerful contemplation on both life and

Read More »

Taking Hold of Bodhicitta

Taking hold of Bodhicitta is a crucial element of Noble Living and also of Noble Caring. When we wish to live nobly, we give up our own ego-centered point-of-view. Even if we

Read More »

Conversation: Tulku Migmar on the Bardo

Samye Institute’s Noble Living, Noble Caring and Noble Dying team continues the conversation about Noble Living and Care-giving. Here the team discusses the bardo, the intermediate period after death—and the importance and

Read More »

We need to learn how to live with dignity. Live without regret, live with compassion, (just a little bit of compassion), live with contentment… live with no regrets. Then you are going to find some degree of dignity, I think that is the only way to die. No regret. Whether you are spiritual or not spiritual it is important to have no regrets.

—Phakchok Rinpoche

Noble Caring

When we train in loving-kindness, compassion, and equanimity, we can truly care for ourselves and others. Our noble caring manifests with no agenda, and with pure love for all sentient beings.  If we embrace this practice, we can avoid burnout, and instead face challenges with courage and dignity. We can become a rock for others who need support.

Noble Caring and Compassionate Heart

Phakchok Rinpoche explained compassion in the following way: In Tibetan, the word for compassion, nying je (snying rje), means “noble heart”. It refers to our own heart and to the heart of the world. Our

Read More »

Conversation: Pure Motivation

Our Noble Living, Noble Caring and Noble Dying team here discusses the importance of pure motivation when care-giving. If we spend some time to consider our motivation, we benefit not only the

Read More »

Medicine Buddha Visualization and Mantra

Medicine Buddha, or Bhaiṣajyaguru visualization has been practiced in many forms of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. According to the Mahayana Bhaiṣajya-guru-vaiḍūrya-prabhā-rāja Sūtra, the bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyaguru made twelve great vows. In particular, he

Read More »

Noble Caring at the Bedside

Phakchok Rinpoche often reminds us to have no expectations. Nowhere is this advice more important than when we engage in intimate caring. To care nobly, we approach each situation with a willingness to witness and to be present with whatever arises.

Noble Caring for Children

Beings of all ages experience suffering. And children may approach serious illnesses with open curiosity.  We can care for children most effectively when we listen deeply and honor their experiences. Then we may offer our young friends the opportunity to communicate their own concerns or wishes.

Caring for Children, Part One

Caring for children, especially those who may be quite ill or dying, requires special skill sets. Here, in the first of a series of conversations, Tsunma Jamyang gives a general introduction to caring nobly

Read More »

Caring for Children, Part Two

In the second video in this series, Tsunma Jamyang continues her discussion of caring for children. Here, she encourages the care-giver to recall the four immeasurable attitudes: Loving Kindness Compassion Equanimity Sympathetic

Read More »

Never Stop Communicating

In this video teaching, Tsunma Jamyang discusses issues surrounding a long, involved dying process with children. She reminds us that we don’t know what people may hear or feel even when it

Read More »

Noble Self-Care

Self-care is crucial on the path. Before we help others, we take time to set our intentions and to check our own physical and mental health. Simple practices, such as pausing before we enter client rooms, bring us back to the present moment. We move purposefully, and with calm awareness. We take time to rest and eat nutritious meals.  We practice supplication and guru yoga, reminding ourselves of our pure basic nature. 

Applying the Pāramitās to Care-Giving

Applying the pāramitās, or transcendental perfections, to care-giving offers us a way to go beyond remaining caught up in self-absorption. Care-giving, as Andrea Sherman explains here, is naturally a place of uncertainty.

Read More »

Noble Caring Through Pain

Most of us will experience physical or mental pain. And almost all of us will care for others who suffer. We can learn how to approach pain with curiosity and kindness. When we choose to investigate pain rather than fight against it, we may discover a new relationship!

Noble Dying: The Final Steps

We can help our friends, families, and caregivers by planning ahead. Conversations about our final wishes may seem awkward or pessimistic. But death is certain; we know that from our own experience. So we can plan our final steps with love, thinking to ease the burden of those we leave behind. If we adopt the practice of noble living, we can see this process as a meaningful gift for others.

Noble Dying: Active Dying

The dying process unfolds as a series of dissolution of the physical elements of the body. Although each death is unique, we can explore the journey ahead and thus approach our own deaths fearlessly and with awareness. If we know what to expect, we can prepare ourselves and welcome death without regret, confident in our own pure nature and in our practice. We can also take the opportunity to direct our prayers and practice as the consecutive stages occur.

Noble Grief

Grief arises when we encounter suffering. But grief does not need to incapacitate us or block our ability to love or care. Here we share reflections on how to skillfully work with grief.

Grief: A Contemplative View

Alan Pope, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the University of West Georgia, USA. He received his Ph.D. in clinical existential-phenomenological psychology at Duquesne University in 2000. This education coincided with the

Read More »

Guided Meditations

In this resource section, we share a selection of audio meditations. Some of these can be practiced by both the caregiver and the care recipient, as well as with their friends and family. Others are particularly helpful for the caregiver as regular practices to develop compassion and equanimity in the face of suffering. We encourage you to browse the library and to download the audios for your convenience. 

Guest Blog

Our contributors share their stories of navigating the caring and dying process with dignity and grace. Their very personal stories can touch us, and, we hope, inspire us on our journey. If you would have a story to share or would like to contribute, please contact us!

Guest Blog: My ALS Adventure

Not knowing how, I failed to find it when I searched for the dharma in High School. Instead, I began a career in the computer business. When I retired I began trekking

Read More »

Continue the Conversation

We hope that you have found the materials presented in our program helpful. As we all face the reality of sickness and death, we can learn from each other along the way. We encourage you to join our Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying forum. Feel free to post your questions or your personal tips. We look forward to sharing together in this beautiful journey!

Continue the Conversation

We hope that you have found the resources shared here helpful. The Samye Institute team wishes to encourage all participants to join in contributing to this resource center. Many people these days

Read More »

Supplementary Resources

Our translation team at Lhasey Lotsawa offers translations of prayers and practices relevant to the dying process. 

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.