Prayers for the Dying

March 5, 2011 Comments Off on Prayers for the Dying

Prayers for the Dying


You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day

cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,

open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one,

even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires

lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like the seeds dreaming beneath the snow

your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams,

for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd

when he stands before the king whose hand

is to be laid upon him in honour.

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,

that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind

and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing,

but to free the breath from its restless tides,

that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence

shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top,

then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs,

then shall you truly dance.

on death – kahlil gibran

When my time has come

and impermanence and death have caught up with me,

When the breath ceases, and the body and mind go their separate ways,

May I not experience delusion, attachment, and clinging,

But remain in the natural state of ultimate reality.

tibetan nyingma master – longchenpa rabjampa – 14th century

Now when the bardo of dying dawns upon me,

I will abandon all grasping, yearning and attachment,

Enter undistracted into a clear awareness of the teaching,

And eject my consciousness into the space of unborn awareness;

As I leave this compound body of flesh and blood

I will know it to be a transitory illusion.

tibetan book of the dead – padmasambhava

Now I say to you in conclusion,

life is hard,

at times as hard as crucible steel. (Mmm)

It has its bleak and difficult moments.

Like the ever-flowing waters of the river,

life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. (Yeah)

Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons,

life has the soothing warmth of its summers

and the piercing chill of its winters. (Yeah)

But if one will hold on,

he will discover that God walks with him, (Yeah. Well)

and that God is able (Yeah) to

lift you from the fatigue of despair

to the buoyancy of hope

and transform dark and desolate valleys

into sunlit paths of inner peace. (Mmm)

eulogy for the martyred children – martin luther king jr. – 1963


Shariputra, any noble sons or noble daughters

who wish to practice the perfection of wisdom should see this way:

They should see insightfully, correctly and repeatedly

that even the five aggregates are empty of inherent nature.

Form is empty, emptiness is form.

Emptiness is not other than form, form is also not other than emptiness.

Likewise, sensation, discrimination, conditioning, and awareness are empty.

In this way, Shariputra, all things are emptiness;

they are without defining characteristics;

they are not born, they do not cease;

they are not defiled, they are not undefiled.

They have no increase, they have no decrease.

Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form,

no sensation, no discrimination, no condition and no awareness.

There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind.

There is no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no texture, no phenomenon.

There is no eye-element and so on up to no mind-element

and also up to no element of mental awareness.

There is no ignorance and no elimination of ignorance

and so on up to no aging and death

and no elimination of aging and death.

Likewise, there is no suffering, origin, cessation, or path;

there is no wisdom, no attainment, and even no non-attainment.

Therefore, Shariputra, since the bodhisattvas have no obtainments,

they abide relying on the perfection of wisdom.

Having no defilements in their minds,

they have no fear,

and passing completely beyond error,

they reach nirvana.

Likewise, all the buddhas

abiding in the three times clearly and completely

awaken to unexcelled, authentic, and complete awakening

in dependence upon the perfection of wisdom.

Therefore, one should know that

the mantra of the perfection of wisdom – the mantra of great knowledge,

the precious mantra,

the unexcelled mantra,

the mantra equal to the unequaled,

the mantra that quells all suffering – is true because it is not deceptive.

The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is proclaimed:

Tadyatha – gate gate paragate, parasamgate bodhi svaha!

Shariputra, a bodhisattva, a great being,

should train in the profound perfection of wisdom in that way.

the heart sutra – avalokiteshvara answering shariputra


The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the

paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the

shadow of death; I will fear no evil: for thou

art with me; thy rod and thy staff they

comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the

presence of mine enemies: thou anointest

my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all

the days of my life; and I will dwell in the

house of the Lord for ever.

psalm 23 – bible – psalm of david


To the divine silence of unreachable endlessness;

To the divine silence of perfected knowledge;

To the divine silence of the soundless voice;

To the divine silence of the Heart of the Labyrinth;

To the divine silence of the ancient mind;

To the divine silence of the unborn guide;

To the divine silence of the unseen guide,

protector of all sentient life;

To the divine silence of those of perfected knowledge;

To the divine silence of human primate incarnation;

To the divine silence of the labyrinth guides

who sacrifice their liberation for those

who have not yet awakened to the truth;

To the divine silence of the Lord of Death,

the eternal unborn resident of the labyrinth

who has sacrificed his own redemption

for the redemption of all voyagers everywhere;

To the divine silence of the primordial being;

To the divine silence of the great sacrifice;

We offer homage, love and hope;

But above all, we give our gratitude.

the american book of the dead – e.j. gold


Fearlessness is better than a faint-heart

for any man who puts his nose out of doors.

The length of my life and the day of my death were fated long ago.

for scirnis – norse mythology


I am of the nature to grow old.

There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill-health.

There is no way to escape having ill-health.

I am of the nature to die.

There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love

are of the nature to change.

There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.

I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground on which I stand.



I invite you to enter for a moment

into Sacred Time and Space,

into a way of seeing that is broad and spacious.

See this Day, from the time you arose this morning

until you sleep this evening, as one Ceremony,

divided into small and familiar rituals,

your Heart as the Altar.

You, part of the Cycles of Light and Darkness.

Now begin to see your Life,

from the moment of your Conception

until the time of your Death

as one long, continuous Ceremony,

filled with many rituals,

some familiar, some unknown and challenging.

Your Home and all Your Relations, the Altar.

You, part of many Seasons and Cycles.

Now see this Ceremony of your Life

as part of a much larger Ceremony that extends

Seven Generations into the Past and Seven into the Future,

made up of many Births and Deaths.

This beautiful spinning Earth the Altar.

You, part of the great Ebb and Flow.

Now, if You will, imagine this larger Ceremony

to be but one part of a Ceremony so grand,

so magnificent as to be hardly comprehensible,

a great, vast Ceremonial Circle, rich and vibrant

with millions upon millions of swirling

Circles of Dancing Light,

and You, one of those Dancing Circles,

a Dancer on the Altar that is the Universe,

where Time is Eternal.

May You Dance In Beauty.

circle wisdom – sedonia cahill


Through your blessing, grace, and guidance,

through the power of the light that streams from you:

May all my negative karma, destructive emotions,

obscurations and blockages be purified and removed,

May I know myself forgiven

for all the harm I may have thought and done,

May I accomplish this profound practice of phowa,

and die a good and peaceful death,

And through the triumph of my death,

may I be able to benefit all other beings, living or dead.

tibetan buddhist phowa practice – care for the dying


O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong,

so prompt before the Throne of God,

I place in you all my interests and desires.

O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession

and obtain for me from your Divine Son

all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord;

so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power

I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage

to the most Loving of Fathers.

O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you

and Jesus asleep in your arms.

I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.

Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me,

and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls,

pray for us.


prayer to st. joseph – 1st century ±


Hail Mary, full of grace.

The Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou amongst women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

pray for us sinners,

now and at the hour of our death.


catholic – holy rosary


On the day I die, when I’m being carried

toward the grave, don’t weep. Don’t say,

He’s gone! He’s gone. Death has nothing

to do with going away. The sun sets and

the moon sets, but they’re not gone.

Death is a coming together. The tomb

looks like a prison, but it’s really

release into union. The human seed goes

down in the ground like a bucket into

the well where Joseph is. It grows and

comes up full of some unimagined beauty.

Your mouth closes here and immediately

opens with a shout of joy there.

mevlana jelaluddin rumi – 13th century


My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

And the fact that I think I am following

your will does not mean that I am

actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please

you does in fact please you.

And I hope that I have that desire in all

that I am doing.

And I know that if I do this, you

will lead me by the right road

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost

and in the shadow of death, I will

not fear, for you are ever with me

and you will never leave me

to face my perils alone.

thomas merton


Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousands winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there. I did not die.

mary elizabeth frye – 1932



(Assyrian) BIND the sick man to Heaven, for from Earth he is being torn


Of the brave man who was so strong, his strength has departed.

Of the righteous servant, the force does not return,

In his bodily frame he lies dangerously ill.

But Ishtar, who in her dwelling, is grieved concerning him, descends from her mountain

unvisited of men.

To the door of the sick man she comes.

The sick man listens!

Who is there? Who comes?

It is Ishtar, daughter of the Moon God!

Like pure silver may his garment be shining white!

Like brass may he be radiant!

To the Sun, greatest of the gods, may he ascend!

And may the Sun, greatest of the gods, receive his soul into his holy hands!


Confronting the Clear Light

Now I am experiencing the Clear Light of objective reality.

Nothing is happening, nothing ever has happened or ever will happen.

My present sense of self, the voyager, is in reality the void itself, having no qualities or characteristics.

I remember myself as the voyager, whose deepest nature is the Clear Light itself; I

am one; there is no other.

I am the voidness of the void, the eternal unborn, the uncreated, neither real nor unreal.

All that I have been conscious of is my own play of consciousness, a dance

of light, the swirling patterns of light in infinite extension, endless


the Absolute beyond change, existence, reality.

I, the voyager, am inseparable from the Clear Light; I cannot be born, die, exist, or change.

I know now that this is my true nature.

the american book of the dead -ej gold


A prayer for preparing for dying

O nobly born

The time may soon come for you to seek new levels of reality.

You may soon be set face to face with the Clear Light.

You may soon experience it in its reality.

The state in which all things are like the void and the cloudless sky,

And the naked spotless intellect is like a transparent vacuum;

At this moment, know yourself and abide in that state.

Concentrate on the unity of all living beings.

Hold onto the Clear Light.

Use it to attain understanding and love.

Remember the unity of all living things.

Remember the bliss of the Clear Light.

O nobly born

Try to reach and keep the experience of the Clear Light.

Your own awareness, not formed into anything possessing form or colour, is naturally void.

The Final Reality.

The All Good.

The All Peaceful.

The Light.

The Radiance.

The movement is the fire of life from which we all come.

Join it.

It is part of you.

Beyond the light of life is the peaceful silence of the void.

The quiet bliss beyond all transformations.

The Void is not nothingness.

The Void is beginning and end itself.

Unobstructed; shining, thrilling, blissful.

Diamond consciousness.

Your own consciousness, not formed into anything,

No thought, no vision, no colour, is void.

This is the state of perfect enlightenment.

Your own consciousness, shining, void and inseparable from the great body of

radiance, has no birth, nor death.

It is the immutable light.

O nobly born, remember:

When the body and mind separate, you experience a glimpse of the pure truth –

Subtle, sparkling, bright,

Dazzling, glorious and radiantly awesome,

In appearance like a mirage moving across a landscape in springtime.

Neither be daunted nor terrified.

That is the radiance of your own true nature.

Recognise it.

From the midst of that radiance

Comes the natural sound of reality,

Reverberating like a thousand thunders sounding at once.

That is the natural sound of your own life process.

Be neither daunted nor terrified.

O nobly born

These realms are not come from somewhere outside your self,

They come from within and shine upon you.

Know them to be of that nature.

The key to enlightenment and serenity during the period of the thousand visions is simply this:


Merge yourself with them.

Become neither attached nor afraid,

Neither be attracted nor repulsed.

They exist only within you.

O nobly born

The Radiant Energy of the Seed

From which come all living forms,

Shoots forth and strikes against you

With a light so brilliant that you will scarcely be able to look at it.

Do not be frightened.

This is the Source Energy which has been radiating for billions of years,

Ever manifesting itself in different forms.

Accept it.

Merge with it.

Let it flow through you.

Lose yourself in it.

Fuse in the Halo of Rainbow Light

In the core of the energy dance.

O nobly born

You are flowing outward into the fluid unity of life.

The ecstasy of organic fire glows in every cell.

The hard, dry, brittle husks of your selfhead are washing out,

Washing out to the endless sea of creation.

Flow with it.

Feel the pulse of the sun’s heart.

Do not fear the ecstasy.

Do not resist the flow.

Remember, all the exultant power comes from within.

Release your attachment.

Recognise the wisdom of your own blood.

Trust the tide-force pulling you into unity with all living forms.

Let your heart burst in love for all life.

Do not try to hold on to your old bodily fears.

Let your body merge with the warm flux.

Float in the Rainbow Sea. Source


Death is ordained from the very beginning, and yet ego makes us cry.
Meditating on the Naam, as Gurmukh, one becomes stable and steady.
Blessed is the Perfect Guru, through whom the way of Death is known.
The sublime people earn the profit of the Naam,
the Name of the Lord; they are absorbed in the Word [Shabad].
The days of one’s life are pre-ordained; they will come to their end, O mother.
One must depart, today or tomorrow, according to the Lord’s Primal Order.
Useless are the lives of those, who have forgotten the Naam.
They play the game of chance in this world, and lose their mind.
Those who have found the Guru are at peace, in life and in death.
O Nanak, the true ones are truly absorbed into the True Lord.
SourceGuru Granth Sahab


Rites relating to Vriddhi Shraddha, Funeral Rites, and Purnabhisheka

Mahanirvana Tantra

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