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Fear of Death: Practice for Long-Life

Please take a few moments before you begin this teaching to settle yourself. Sit upright, yet naturally relaxed. Before listening to and/ or reading the teaching make aspirations such as: "I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to the precious Dharma. I am doing this for the benefit of all sentient beings so that they may be free from suffering and attain complete awakening".

Fear of death often arises sneakily in the middle of the night. We may suddenly wake up early in the morning, at 1 or 2 o’clock, with the fear
of death in our heart. Suddenly, and almost irrationally, we sense our death is coming. And this kind of fear tends to arise n the morning between 1 and 2 o’clock because this is the time of fear. When the sun rises, such fear begins to disappear.

Fear of Death In the Middle of the Night

So, if we wake with this fear, we can learn to practice a simple long life meditation visualization.  When we experience this fear,  it indicates that our life force is
becoming a little bit weak and so we need to make it become stronger. Phakchok Rinoche here introduces a visualization practice that he personally recommends when fear of death visits us in the night.


Overcoming Fear of Death by Visualizing Amitayus

We begin by visualizing Amitayus (Tibetan tshe dpag med) — The Buddha of Boundless Light. – the long life Buddha – above the crown of our head.

Fear of DeathWhen we visualize Amitayus, we know that he is our guru andis the same as the guru in your heart. These gurus are not different – they are inseparable. Within our heart center, we visualize a moon and sun disc that are egg-shaped, not flat.  When we visualizehere, we see them as egg shaped or cone shaped and are open like a casket.

For the simplest practice, we visualize that inside the open casket is our life force. Then we request Amitayus to please bless us. We can practice this when we wake with fright .

Simply visualize like this and chant the Amitayus mantra 


In the Sanskrit  languages some of these syllables have specific meaning.  “A” is a negating sound, meaning something like cut, “mara” refers to obstacle  makers, and jiwan means life .

Light Visualization

After we have chanted the mantra for a short time, we visualize nectar falling down from Amitayus. When we do this more elaborately, we visualize Amitayus sending light out and then bringing back all of our dissipated life force with the four elements. Whenever our life force is a little bit weak due to obstacles or something like that, this life force dissolves into Amitayus’ vase which overflows into our body. Then the nectar fills our body completely – from the tip of our head down to our toes.

Then we imagine that our whole body is filled with this light, and as a result, the body’s five elements become strong. Following that, our body energy becomes strong. And as a result, our life and our life force – our length of life – becomes revived. Think that we have recharged, just like we would charge a battery. Once we are fully charged, the nectar left over flows down into the open casket. The moon and sun discs then snap closed. This rainbow-colored light mantra then binds the

Requesting Blessings

After the binding of the sun and moon casket, we supplicate Amitayus to please bless us and to keep our life force strong.  Then, Amitayus descends from above our head onto the top of the mantra knot on the casket and remains there. We visualize this process and then rest in meditation.

In the video teaching above, Phakchok Rinpoche physically demonstrates the visualization.  It may help you to review this several times!


Remember that we visualize the sun and moon as an open container, not as flat discs. Nectar flows down from Amitayus who is inseparable from our own guru– into our body. It then overflows into the casket which then closes tightly. The rainbow colored mantra chain itself then binds the casket. After this, Amitayus descends from above our head and he remains on the knot. His presence seals the casket, and improves our life force, making us stronger. As a result, we won’t feel afraid in the early morning hours. It is very good to do long-life practice when fear of death awakens us.

At the end of the teaching, please remember to dedicate the merit of receiving a Dharma teaching. As you go through your day, take a few moments from time to time to recall these instructions.

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December 23, 2018

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