Preparing to meet Life’s Final Challenge without Fear
October 14 – 20, 2017
A 7-day Residential Intermediate-Level Course. Led by Venerable Robina Courtin.
In modern society the subject of death is treated as a taboo, due to which we avoid discussing it and even go as far as pretending it doesn’t exist. As a result, our own and others’ deaths come as a huge shock to us.
In fact, death is the one sure thing that will definitely happen to every single one of us, and it can happen anytime. So doesn’t it make sense to think about it and make preparations for it? Wouldn’t that make our own death easier and less frightening? And wouldn’t that enable us to help other people who are dying?
Would you like to know why some people die peacefully, as though going to sleep, and why others experience great fear and anxiety?
Buddhism explains that thinking about death is not morbid, but useful, logical, and necessary because to die well, peacefully and without fear, we need to live well by leading lives based on ethics, compassion, kindness, honesty, and helping others.
We will look at what death is, what happens when one is dying, what one should do before death and while one is dying, and what happens after death. We will also discuss how to prepare for death, both in terms of what it means to live well and in terms of actual practices that can be done as death is approaching.
In this course topics such these below will be discussed
- 1. Why make preparations for death?
- 2. How mindfulness of death is useful
- 3. Death, intermediate state, and rebirth
- 4. Practices for the time of death
The Handbook for this course: “How to Help Your Loved One Enjoy Death and Go Happily to Their Next Rebirth” (the hard copy is called “How to Enjoy Death”) is now available as a free download from the FPMT website. Please use this link, which will take you to the ‘Death and Dying” section of the FPMT education section and look for this book in the list, ready for download. fpmt.org/death
During this course we will go through the crucial teachings and practices laid out in this handbook that prepare us for this natural event so that we can accept it and face it without fear, and thus be qualified to help our loved ones do the same.
Death is a natural event, but because we have so much attachment to this life, this body, this self, we cannot stand the thought of death. As Lama Zopa Rinpoche says in his new book, How to Enjoy Death, “Death itself is not what causes fear. It is simply the consciousness leaving the body; one labels death on that event. There is no terrifying death from its own side; the terrifying death is made up by our own mind. We have made death terrifying. What causes the worry and fear, what makes death so difficult is attachment, desire, clinging: to this life, to the body, possessions, family, friends and so forth.”
Because of this fear, we simply don’t believe we will die. Or if we do think about death it’s always someone else who dies. But it’s not enough to be sad, to have compassion. The way to make it real, to get the wake-up call, is every time we hear about death, read about it, talk about it, just remember: that will be me, that will be me.
Then, knowing that we’re in charge, not a creator or anyone else, and understanding well the workings of the natural law of karma – that every thought and action leaves a seed in our mind that will just naturally ripen as our future experiences – we will lead a meaningful life and thus be prepared for death and our next rebirth.
And then we can help others. As Rinpoche says, “Helping our loved ones at the time of death is the best service we can offer them, our greatest gift, Why? Because death is the most important time of life: it’s at death that the next rebirth is determined.”
For more information about Intermediate Courses, see our
Intermediate Course Page.