The Process of Dying
I'll try to recreate what I had read from the book, "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche a Tibetan Buddhist monk who preaches in the west.
The book has many similiarities with the Yoga Vasistha. In fact they are probing the same subject and both are committed to the truth. Moreover Buddhism was carried to Tibet from India by Indian monks so there will definitely be similiarities.
The book declares that life is a time span given to human souls to prepare for and eventually face death. Death can be conquered by a constant process of self enquiry concerning the reality behind the body mind complex and the projected world till the clear light of realisation dawns.
Death can be of two types, accidental/untimely death and death from old age. The book mostly deals with death from old age though it says that the process of death is the same for both. However in accidental death the process is extremely rapid.
I'll deal with the process of death which is very beautifully described in this book and which everyone should be familiar with. It has three sub chapters;
1. The position of dying.
2. The dissolution of the external elements, the senses, earth, water, fire and space.
3. The dissolution of the subtle elements.
1. The position of dying.
The terminally ill patient should be placed on the right side. The left hand should be alongside the left thigh. The feet, the left placed upon the right, should be slightly bent in the knees. The right hand should be under the chin with the right index finger blocking the right nostril. The right side represents karmic fallacies and this position ensures that by closing all other aperatures the soul leaves through the shahasrara, the head exit.
2. The process of dying.
A. Dissolution of senses..
The patient feel his senses loosing their power. The ears hear but cannot discern the words. The eyes see but cannot discern the objects. The senses of smell and taste too diminish.
B. The dissolution of the earth element.
The patient feels a sudden and acute loss of energy. The body feel like sinking into the bed and feels extraordinarily heavy. The patient may ask for the covers to be removed and the head to be raised by more pillows. Mentally the patient witnesses a simmering mirage as in the desert.
C. The water element.
The next to dissolve is the water element. The eyes start dripping tears, the nose starts dribbling, the mouth starts drooling. The eyballs feel extremely dry in their sockets, the mouth feels dry and the patient may ask for water. The patient sees flickering of sparks or a blaze as the next element fire prepares for dissolution.
D. The Fire element.
The patient feels the extremeties getting icy cold which spreads towards the upper torso. Gradually the whole body becomes cold with the prana concentrating all elements of life into the imaginary heart region. The skin looses its lusture and the body emits a peculiar smell of death which doctors and nurses accustomed to dealing with terminally ill patients can often discern. The patient sees a raging storm as the next element space starts to dissolve.
E. The space element.
Here I have to falter as I don't remember much. This is the last stage of physical death. The breath stops and the patient is declared clinically dead. However three drops of blood are released into the heart region which remains warm for about another twenty minutes.
2. The dissolution of the subtle elements.
Here the patient sees imaginary figures as per karma during his lifetime. He may have nightmares if he has bad karma or else he may feel the presence of sages, dead friends and relatives if his karma are good. The patient often panics here as he feels that his individuality is about to dissolve. He may see the clear light of the sky without the hindrances of clouds or fog which leads him to the other dimension.
The whole process of death is very scary and the mind is completely confused and terrorised as it looses total control over itself. It is only the results of ones good karma and the blessings of sages which comforts the patient at this stage. The Hindu practice of pouring gangajal (ganges water) into the mouth and the chanting of the name of the patients favourite God also may be comforting.