“Master, although I have served you for a long time, I am now an old woman with no confidence at all about the moment of death. So I beseech you to hold me with compassion and give me a single instruction – concise and easy to practice – that condenses all the oral teachings into one.”
The great master replied, “Devoted woman with a faithful and virtuous mind, listen to me. Although the profound key points of body are many, rest freely and relaxed, in whatever way you feel comfortable. Everything is included in simply that.
Although there are many key points of speech, such as controlling the breath and reciting mantras, stop speaking and rest like a mute. Everything is included in simply that.
Although the many key points of mind involve concentrating, relaxing, projecting, absorbing, focusing inward and so on, everything is included in resting in genuine simplicity, free and easy, in your own nature.
“The mind won’t remain serenely in that state. Like a cool breeze in the heat of the sun, if you ask, ‘Is it nothing?’ it vanishes swiftly like mist. If you ask, ‘Is it something?’ it has no shape, color or any identifying characteristic whatsoever but is utterly empty and completely awake. Vividly awake – this is the fundamental nature of your mind.
“Since this is how it is, the view is to recognize and resolve on that point.
The meditation is to remain undistracted in a state of tranquility, steadfast, without fabrication or fixation.
In that state, to be free from clinging or attachment, accepting or rejecting, hope or fear, towards any of the experiences of the six senses – that is the conduct.
“Whatever doubt or divided mind occurs, supplicate to your master. Don’t remain among a crowd of people; practice in seclusion. You must give up whatever great desire and yearning you have for this life, completely cut your attachment toward those with whom you have ties of attachment, and practice. In that way, although your form is human, your thinking will be equal to that of an enlightened one.
“To continue, at the time of dying, practice as follows:
“As the earth element dissolves into the water element, the body becomes heavy and cannot support itself. As the water element dissolves into the fire element, the mouth and nose dry up. As the fire element dissolves into the wind element, the body heat slips away. As the wind element dissolves into consciousness, one cannot but exhale with a rattle and inhale with a gasp.
“At that time, it feels like you have been pressed down by a huge mountain, are trapped within darkness, and hurled into space. All these appearances are accompanied by roaring and ringing sounds. The entire sky will appear as vividly bright as silk brocade flung open.
“Furthermore, within a dome of rainbow lights the natural forms of your awareness will materialize as peaceful, wrathful, and semi-wrathful deities with various heads. Brandishing many kinds of weapons and filling the sky with fierce sounds. The light, moreover, will be like a hundred thousand suns shining simultaneously.
“At this time, your innate deity will remind you of awareness, saying: ‘Don’t be distracted! Don’t be distracted!’ Your innate demon will disturb the appearances and sweep them away, uttering many sharp and fierce sounds and leading you into confusion.
“When this occurs, know that the sensation of being pressed down is not a mountain pressing down but is your own elements dissolving. Do not fear that! The feeling of being trapped within darkness is not darkness, but are your five sense faculties dissolving. The feeling of being hurled into the expanse of space is not being hurled. It is that your mind and body have separated and your breathing has stopped so that your mind is without support.
“All experiences of rainbow lights are the natural radiance of your awareness. All the peaceful and wrathful bodies are the natural forms of your awareness. All sounds are your own sounds. All lights are your own lights. Have no doubt about this! If doubt arises, you will be thrown into samsara. Having resolved this to be self-display, if you rest wide awake in the luminosity inseparable from emptiness, by simply that you will attain the three kayas and become enlightened. Even if cast into samsara, you won’t go.
“The innate deity is the present taking hold of your mind with undistracted mindfulness. From now on, it is most important to have no fascination, happiness or sorrow, and to be without hope and fear or clinging and fixation towards any of the objects of your six sense faculties. If from this time onward you attain stability, you will become enlightened by taking hold of your natural state in the bardo. Therefore, the most vital point is to sustain your practice undistractedly right now.
“The innate demon is your present habitual ignorance, your uncertain mind, and your doubt. Whatever fearful phenomena appear at that time – such as the triad of sounds, colors and lights – do not become fascinated, do not create doubts and do not panic. Since you will wander in samsara if you fall back into doubt for even a single moment, gain complete stability.
“At this time, all womb entrances will appear as celestial palaces, and you must not be captivated by them. Be sure of that! Separate yourself from hope and fear! Without taking another rebirth, you will become enlightened. I swear this without a doubt. During this period, you are not benefited by a Buddha; it is your own awareness that has been enlightened from the very beginning. You are not harmed by the hells. Fixation is purified by itself so that all hope and fear concerning samsara and nirvana are severed at the root.
“Examples for becoming enlightened at such a time are like murky water becoming clear and limpid, like gold being purged of impurities, or clouds vanishing from the sky. Having attained the space-like Dharmakaya for your own benefit, you will accomplish the benefit of sentient beings pervading space. Having attained Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya for the welfare of others, you will benefit sentient beings as much as your awareness pervades phenomena.
“If this instruction is given three times to a very evil person, such as someone who has killed his own father and mother, he will not fall into samsara even if thrown there. Thus, enlightenment is without a doubt. Lacking an instruction like this, regardless of however many other profound teachings you may have, you can only speak the words. Hence, since you do not know where you may wander, practice this teaching with perseverance.
“Concerning the disciples to whom this type of teaching should be given, they should be those with great faith, great diligence and great intelligence, who always remember their teacher, have confidence in the oral instructions, and exert themselves vigorously in the practice. Their understanding should be stable and they should have the capacity to give up worldly concerns. To them you should be generous. In addition bestow the master’s seal of entrustment, the yidam’s seal of secrecy, and the dakini’s seal of entrustment.
“Although I, Padmakara, have followed many masters for three thousand, six hundred years, have requested oral instructions and detailed explanations, and have taught, meditated and carried out sadhana practice, I have not found any teaching more profound than this. Now I am going to tame the rakshas, and you should practice exactly in this way. Mother, you will become enlightened in the Buddhafield of Vajra Varahi. Therefore, persevere in this instruction.”
After he spoke, the guru mounted the rays of the sun and departed to the land of the rakshas. The lady attained liberation at this time and put the teaching in writing, hiding it as a profound treasure. She made this aspiration: “In the future, may this be passed on to Guru Dorje Lingpa. May it then benefit many beings.”
This completes the extremely sacred instruction, The Most Refined Essence: the reply to questions on self-liberation in the bardo of dying. Samaya, seal, seal, seal.
For those of you who just embarked on the path, don't be alarmed by the instructions above. To you all I would like to simply remind that, at the time of death, do not have any regrets of this life, no attachment or clinging to this life and to your samsaric belongings, confess of all your wrong doings, shouldn’t fear and instead when fear arises, think of your guru, and finally know that all the experiences that you are experiencing are nothing but the reflection of your mind.