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It seems appropriate (at least to me) to contemplate death on a regular basis, and especially at significant times in one’s life. After all, we know two things are certain; we will all die, and we are not sure when. So, even while the excitement of the imminent birth of my child grows, being aware of my mortality is always in the picture.

And it seems fitting that this past week I have had the pleasure once again to host Lama Doctor Tsewang Ngodrup Rinpoche, this time for a three part teaching on the Bardo, the intermediate stages of consciousness (some of which deal with our experiences with death and in the afterlife). A main thrust of these teachings, in similar fashion to most of Buddhism, is to do virtuous deeds, to collect merit and good karma as it is only one’s karmic imprints that follow the consciousness once it has been separated from the body. Good karmic imprints propel one towards better future lives and the chance at achieving enlightenment for the good of all sentient beings.

Of course, being comfortable with the idea of death is difficult, and here I must admit that at the current time I am not. But, I do find it helpful to think that the more good I do, the more patients I care for and try to heal, the more good karma I collect, the more love I feel and share with my family and friends, the better my chances are of securing future happiness.

So, then, when is a good time to die? I suppose, once one feels secure in the amount of merit and good karma collected…..

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