Then what is phowa? I thought it was all about ejecting your consciousness into a pure land and that requires some sort of effort. Someone who dies in a car accident wouldn't be able to do that.
I learned it from Gonpo Tsedan R. (Nyingma). He said that there were 5 level of Phowa. 3 levels were for yogis only
, and resulted in Dharmakaya, Sambogakaya, and Nirmanakaya realizations while still in alive in this body. The fourth level was what a realized lama did for a deceased person. The fifth level was what he was going to teach us, which was for non-meditators and was to be performed just before death if
the person had the luxury of knowing that they were going to die. And yes, you are supposed to eject your consciousness out of the top of your head, hence the story I just told. If you got hit by a bus you wouldn't have time to do it and you were just out of luck.
At the week long course where R. taught it, the only person to get the full sign of accomplishment (a pimple you could stick kusha grass into) was my roommate that only went for one session. So it seems some people "get it" without a lot of effort.
after you master it or become sufficiently '' professional '' in it, the phowa becomes effortless and does not require effort at the time of death. it was said just few days ago in the teachings that when you are good in phowa you do not need to recite even the seed syllable of the practice. it happens automatically.
As you say, that scenario if for an accomplished, a.k.a. "professional" meditator. In the version I was taught (for non-meditators) you've got to have time to do the practice just before death.