”My religion is living and dying without regrets” Milarepa

Our existence is determined by the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. Our bodies are formed and sustained by these elements. When the airs (energies) that feed these elements dissolve, we die.

There are two phases of dissolution in the dying process:

External dissolution:

The airs that feed the elements dissolve. The senses stop functioning. We hear voices, but are unable to distinguish words. We see shapes, but are unable to make out detail. The first phase of dissolution has begun.

1-Dissolution of the earth element:

The body begins to lose strength, we feel as if we are falling or are being crushed by a weight. It is difficult to move. The mind drifts into a state of sleepiness; objects do not appear to be real, they are viewed in a similar way to mirages in the desert. All shapes become blurred.

2-Dissolution of the water element:

We lose control of our bodily liquids. Our nose runs, our eyes cry and we drool saliva. At the same time we are thirsty. We lose feeling in our body, alternating between states of pain and pleasure, and cold and heat. Our thoughts become unclear and we begin to see whirlwinds of smoke.

3-Dissolution of the element fire:

Our mouths and mucous membranes in the nose dry. The body loses colour, from the extremities to the trunk. We continue losing our sense of perception; the mind seesawing between moments of clarity and confusion. We see sparks flying about in the darkness.

4-Dissolution of the element air:

It is difficult to breathe. The body becomes immobile and we lose awareness of the world around us. The mind sees a burning torch or light at the end of a tunnel. This is when we are declared clinically dead.

- This dying process can last from a few seconds up to twenty minutes. If the dead person has lived a good and compassionate life, these processes of dissolution are experienced as peaceful and calming.

Internal dissolution:

Our emotional and thinking processes dissolve. This is the inverse of what happened when we were conceived.

5- We perceive things with extraordinary clarity

The thirty-three states of thought derived from anger reach their end. We perceive a space illuminated by moonlight.

6- The forty states of thought...

derived from desire disappear. Our vision is tinted red, like a sunset.

7- The seven states of thought...

derived from ignorance and deception dissolve.
We feel trapped and imagine ourselves surrounded by darkness.

8- We regain consciousness...

and feel that we are in a wide open, brightly lit space.

The Buddhist teachers give great importance to recognizing this moment, because only once the darkness disappears are we able to discover the true nature of our minds. If we are able to recognize and remain in this state we will be liberated.

If fear causes us to hang onto what we have left behind, our consciousness may be reincarnated in another being.

These two possibilities are what influence our ethical behaviour during our lives.

The internal dissolution phase can last three days. It is over when a drop of liquid is discharged through the nostrils. At this moment our consciousness leaves the body. It is important not to move or touch the body until this happens, and to ensure that the body is not exposed to noises or disturbances.

Tapping or gently pulling tufts of hair on the crown of the dead person's head can be beneficial.

We can practice this process during our lives to familiarise ourselves with it. These phases all occur naturally when we are asleep.

iving away all of our possessions before we die prepares us for an ideal death. The person who has nothing has no reason to stay and nothing to hang onto at the moment of death.

It is a good idea to decide what will happen to our belongings after we die. In this way, disputes between relatives that can worry us in the next dimension are avoided.

The atmosphere that surrounds the dying should be free of tension, sadness and signs of suffering.

The consciousness continues its development without the body and passes through a series of states called "bardos”.