Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Prayers for the Dying

My brother was a Buddhist, with interests in other religions as well. I am pleased to have found some beautiful prayers for him. I also remembered a poem I wrote a very long time ago, around the time the singer Tim Buckley died. I include it just because it seems strange thing to recall it, after all these years....Tim's exquisite music and vision was a part of the youth Glenn and I shared as well.

When my time has come and
impermanence and death
have caught up with me,
when the breath ceases
and body and mind
go their separate ways

may I not experience delusion,
attachment and clinging,
but remain
in the natural state
of ultimate reality.

Longchenpa Rabjampa

Now when the bardo of dying dawns upon me,
I will abandon grasping, yearning and attachment,
Enter undistracted into a clear awareness of the teaching,
And eject my consciousness into the space of unborn awareness;
As I leave this compound body of flesh and blood
I will know it to be a transitory illusion.


Form is empty, emptiness is form.
Likewise, sensation, discrimination,
conditioning, and awareness are empty.
In this way, Shariputra, all things are emptiness;
they are without defining characteristics;
they are not born, they do not cease

I invite you to enter
into Sacred Time and Space,
into a way of seeing broad and spacious.
See this Day, from the time you arose this morning
until you sleep this evening, as one Ceremony,
divided into small and familiar rituals,

your Heart as the Altar.
You, part of the Cycles of Light and Darkness.
Now begin to see your Life,
from the moment of your Conception
until the time of your Death
as one long, continuous Ceremony,
filled with many rituals,
some familiar, some unknown and challenging.
Your Home and all Your Relations, the Altar.
You, part of many Seasons and Cycles.
Now see this Ceremony of your Life
as part of a much larger Ceremony that extends
Seven Generations into the Past and Seven into the Future,
made up of many Births and Deaths.
This beautiful spinning Earth the Altar.
You, part of the great Ebb and Flow.
Now, if You will, imagine this larger Ceremony
to be but one part of a Ceremony so grand,
so magnificent as to be hardly comprehensible,
a vast Ceremonial Circle, with
Circles of Dancing Light,
and You,

a Dancer on the Altar that is the Universe,
where Time is Eternal.

Sedonia Cahill

On the day I die, when I'm being carried
toward the grave, don't weep. Don't say,
He's gone! He's gone.

Death has nothing
to do with going away. The sun sets and the moon sets,

but they're not gone. Death is a coming together.
The tomb looks like a prison,but it's really release into union.
The human seed goes down in the ground
like a bucket into the well where Joseph is.

It grows and comes up full of some unimagined beauty.

Your mouth closes here and opens with a shout of joy there.

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am sunlight on ripened grain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye

BIND the sick man to Heaven, for from Earth he is being torn away!
Of the brave man who was so strong, his strength has departed.
Of the righteous servant, the force does not return,
In his bodily frame he lies dangerously ill.
But Ishtar,
who in her dwelling is grieved
descends from her mountain unvisited of men.
To the door of the sick man she comes.
The sick man listens!
Who is there? Who comes?
It is Ishtar, daughter of the Moon!
Like pure silver may his garment be shining white!
Like brass may he be radiant!
To the Sun may he ascend!

(Assyrian prayer for the dying)

O nobly born
The time may soon come

for you to seek new levels of reality.
You may soon be face to face with the Clear Light.
You may soon experience it in its truth.
The state in which all things are like the void and the cloudless sky,
And the naked spotless intellect is like a transparent vacuum;
At this moment, know yourself and abide in that state.

Concentrate on the unity of all living beings.
Hold onto the Clear Light.
Use it to attain understanding and love.
Remember the unity of all living things.
Remember the bliss of the Clear Light.

O nobly born
Try to reach the experience of the Clear Light.
The Light. The Radiance. Join it.
It is part of you.

Your own consciousness, inseparable from the body of radiance

has no birth, nor death.
It is the immutable light.

O nobly born
The Radiant Energy of the Seed
From which come all living forms,
Shoots forth and strikes against you
With a light so brilliant you will scarcely be able to look at it.
Do not be frightened.
This is the Source
Ever manifesting in different forms.
Accept it. Merge with it.
Let it flow through you.
Fuse in the Halo of Rainbow Light

O nobly born
You are joining into the fluid unity of life.
Flow with it. Feel the pulse of the sun's heart.
Do not fear the ecstasy.
Do not resist the flow.
Let your heart burst in love for all life.

Do not try to hold to your old bodily fears.
Float in the Rainbow Sea.


(for Tim Buckley)

Once I watched pollen

take to the air, the fragrance

of lemon trees flowering in Ojai;

I admired patterns of water

running across rocks,

I made songs about the ocean's exaltation.

Now, both pollen and promise -

I am. I know

the life of lemon trees,

the water runs in me.

What I have most cherished

has fallen from my hands

Fortune, ambition, and chance

are songs I left behind me.

I have left the pain of slow decay

to become something

less than light

Lauren Raine (1975)

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