From the Buddhist Contemplative Care for End of Life Speakers Series

Learn about the fascinating life, death and rebirth process, or bardos, from the Vajrayana Buddhist perspective. Doug Duncan Sensei and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei were guest speakers at the Buddhist Contemplative Care for End of Life Speakers Series on February 6th, 2021. This two hour lecture shares the Tibetan Buddhist view of the death process, how to support others going through it, and how to work with it as we go through it ourselves.

Buddhism is well known for its intricate mapping of consciousness and its manifestations. In this philosophical paradigm, life, death and rebirth are regarded as processes, not events.

Tibetan Buddhism observes these processes as six primary “Bardos” (Tibetan for “gap”).  Three of these are Living Bardos (life, meditation, sleeping) and three are Death Bardos (dying, moment of death, and moving towards the next rebirth). Bardos often describe the journey that we make after death, before taking a new birth, though they can also refer to any transformation in life and death.

Watch the Class:

Helping Ourselves and Others Stay Present with the Universal Death Process

In the Vajrayana tradition in Western countries, caregiving for dying persons includes support from the community of practitioners, who say mantras considered helpful for this Bardo transition. Teachers can provide Bardo prayers for a clear mind and a good rebirth. Practically speaking this includes just staying present and observing the body through the shutting down of functions.  We allow the body to follow the natural, universal death process. (Scroll down for the free infographic: What happens to Consciousness During the Death Process?)

Experiential exercise featured in the talk: Buddhism’s Nine-Point Meditation on Death and Dying. We share this example of one Buddhist contemplative practice that helps us radically transform our relationship to death, and so live with greater ease and happiness.  

    This lecture was sponsored by:
    • Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto
    • Toronto Centre for Applied Buddhism
    • Buddhist Education Foundation for Canada
    In Collaboration with
    • Awaken in Toronto 
    • Planet Dharma
    • Clear Sky Center

    Upcoming Courses and Talks on Death and Rebirth

    Doug and Catherine Sensei will be speaking more about the topics of life and death, rebirth vs reincarnation this year:

    exploring the bardos meditation retreat
    death and dying process

    Free Infographic: What Happens to Consciousness During the Death Process?

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    Meet the Teachers

    Catherine Pawasarat
    Catherine Pawasarat
    Doug Qapel Duncan
    Doug Qapel Duncan

    Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat are Dharma and meditation teachers who founded Clear Sky Meditation Center, BC, Canada.

    Qapel (Achariya Doug Duncan) received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 1978, and is a lineage holder in that teaching. Known for his direct, humourous and compassionate engagement with students, Qapel embraces various traditions, contemporary psychology, and science, to mentor all beings to a more awakened state.

    Catherine Pawasarat Sensei has trained daily with Qapel (Acariya Doug Duncan) since 1998 in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that is rare in the modern West. She received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 2003. In addition to Buddhist philosophy and its applications to daily life, Catherine Sensei also draws on generative living and the arts. With Qapel she is co-founder of Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies.

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