Confused phenomena are like a parade of happiness and misery: Once good and bad have individually arisen they perpetuate themselves.
In actuality they remain unborn; in essence they neither pass away nor change— Know this thoroughly and straight away.
Now That I Come to Die
A translation of [Zhal chems dri ma med pa’i ‘od]
A Final Testament called "The Immaculate Light"
Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjampa
Homage to all noble persons endowed with great compassion.
Homage to Him who, like the sun, is shining in the wondrous brightness of what is good and pure,
From the primordial basic space of the ground,
Displaying various manifestations of his compassion
And looking after living beings by his enlightened actions.
Homage to Him who, after completing all that was to be done,
Went to Kushinagar , truly the most wondrous city,
To teach a lesson to those who believe in permanance.
From former time I know the nature of samsara:
Therefore, from one about to leave behind this body
Which is transitory and deceptive,
Listen to this admonition which is solely for your benefit—
Worldly things are completely meaningless.
Although you may hold to things as real during your life,
You will most surely find that deceiving.
Once you have fully understood that you cannot rely
On that which is impermanent and meaningless,
Attend to real Dharma, which alone is beneficial.
The wealth and possessions you have amassed must be left behind—
They are like honey—to be enjoyed by those who did not gather them.
Now, while you still can, make arrangements for your needs on the way hearafter—
The wealth that will confer on you excellent qualities.
The house you have built is going to collapse;
It is only a temporary abode;
You cannot stay on, but must go.
Dismiss your attachment and craving for places of excitement—
Resort to solitary places straight away.
Friendship and hostility are like the play of children:
Love and hatred for that which has no value are a blazing fire.
Avoid squabbles and resentments—
Control your mind straight away.
Deeds, being meaningless, are like a magic show:
Although you involve yourself in them for a while,
Ultimately they are fruitless.
Cease troubling about this life, dismiss worldly concerns—
Look for the road to deliverance straight away.
Your precious human body,
With its freedoms and endowments,
Is like a priceless boat:
While you still have the power to steer it across the ocean of frustrations,
Shun laziness, indolence and idleness—
Activate the power of strenuous endeavor straight away.
The real guru is like an escort on a dangerous road:
With great confidence and devotion of body, speech and mind,
Depend on this guide who protects against the enemy of samsara—
Venerate and rely on him, straight away.
Instruction in the profound is like the amrita of immortality:
Since it is the best cure for the disease of disturbing emotions,
Depend on your awareness, discover precisely its quality—
Imbibe it and allow it to affect you straight away.
The three trainings, when utterly pure, are like the wishfulfilling gem:
They are the path itself, which here and hereafter offers bliss,
And ultimately leads to what is good and wholesome.
Through them you find the real peace of enlightenment—
Let them develop straight away.
Learnedness is like a precious lamp:
Dispelling darkness and illuminating the path towards liberation,
Its light of prosperity and bliss opens the eye of original wakefulness—
Let it shine unrestricted straight away.
Proper thoughts are like a skilled goldsmith:
They remove all impositions and doubts about ‘this’ and ‘that’
By exercising a discriminating awareness born from reflecting about the Dharma—
Absorb them within you straight away.
Cultivation is like the taste of nectar:
Through the cultivation of what has been heard and thought about,
All disturbing emotions are remedied,
The ocean of conceptual understanding is crossed,
And the other shore is reached—
In forests and mountains start contemplative cultivation straight away.
The view is like the bright sky:
Free from all that is high or low, divided or partial,
Neither wide nor narrow, it is beyond attempts to verbalize it—
Apply the tool of insightful understanding straight away.
Meditation is like a mountain or an ocean:
Neither passing away nor changing, it is lucid and unstained:
All labeling which erupts through the proliferation of concepts thus ceases—
Meditate by letting be just as it is, straight away.
Conduct is like the wise person:
It acts in accordance with what is appropriate and beneficial.
This realm of magic with its wantingness and attachments,
Accepting and rejecting, affirmations and denials—
Free it from dualistic fixation straight away.
Fruition is like a guide gathering riches:
Wealthy himself, he allows others’ values spontaneously to come forth.
Without hopes or fears, the mind feels naturally blissful—
Exert yourself to win this wealth straight away.
Mind, a continual source of perceived phenomena, is like the sky:
The sky of mind nature, dharmata,
Without duality, united and complete—
Understand it thoroughly straight away.
All the variety of things and ideas are like images in a mirror:
Appearances are empty, yet there is no substance to emptiness;
If this (paradox) is left unresolved, complacency prevails—
Know experience thoroughly for what it is straight away.
The subject dealing with its objects is like a dream:
Although there is no duality, ingrained habits cause duality to appear.
What is conceptualized by the intellect has no independent existence—
Know non-duality straight away.
Samsara and transcendence are like a magic show:
Although good and bad seem to exist separately,
The non-dual essence remains unchanged.
All realities are unborn, like the sky—
Know this thoroughly straight away.
Confused phenomena are like a parade of happiness and misery:
Once good and bad have individually arisen they perpetuate themselves.
In actuality they remain unborn; in essence they neither pass away nor change—
Know this thoroughly and straight away.
Intellectual understandings are like the quarrels of foolish men:
There is nothing substantial to them.
Divisive notions have introduced a split and
Principled attitudes will take good and bad to be separate—
Know equanimity straight away.
Generosity is like a precious treasure:
Inexhaustible, increasing ever more, the cause of good fortune.
To the field of merits, whether they are lessor, common or superior—
Give what is deserving straight away.
Discipline is like a fine, clean carriage:
The ladder for climbing up to higher realms or to the fortress of happiness.
Restraint, adherence to the dharma, and aiding all beings—
Let these qualities abide in yourself straight away.
Patience is like the undisturbed ocean:
It cannot be perturbed by harm; it is the best rigorous training,
Accepting frustrations and developing a sense of compassion—
Accustom and familiarize yourself with patience straight away.
Diligence is like a blazing bonfire:
Burning away the unsuitable, it rushes towards wholesomeness.
Neither idle, unconcerned, nor lazy—
Realize this path towards deliverance straight away.
Concentration, unswerving, is like the king of mountains:
Unshaken by dualistic fixations, undistracted in the presence of objects,
Wherever it is firmly settled, it cannot be upset by anything—
Familiarize yourself with it straight away.
Discerning intelligence is like the sun’s great sphere:
Dispelling the darkness of mind’s murkiness and causing the dharma to shine,
Elevating the sublime island of liberation and drying up the ocean of evil—
Intensify it straight away.
Skillful Means is like a sea captain in charge of his precious cargo:
With it you cross the ocean of suffering, go to the island of utter bliss, and
Realize the three sublime kayas whereby the two-fold aim is spontaneously fulfilled—
Benefit others by skillful means straight away.
Strength is like a hero conquering his enemies:
It overcomes the army of disturbing emotions and proceeds towards enlightenment.
Since strength does not admit of hindrances, and by it goodness will reach its pinnacle—
Develop it in yourself straight away.
Aspiration is like the wish-fulfilling jewel:
All desires are granted and bliss grows naturally.
It puts the mind at rest and fulfills one’s hopes—
Give prayer its great chance straight away.
Timeless wisdom is like clouds gathering in the sky:
From the nourishing clouds of insight it lets fall the rain of prosperity and bliss,
And makes the crop of goodness prosper in all beings—
Make efforts to achieve this original wakefulness straight away.
Skillful means and discerning intelligence are like excellent steeds:
Never stumbling into worldliness or quiescence,
One’s own and others’ welfare is realized.
The five paths are traversed to their end,
And the three kayas are spontaneously accomplished—
Realize these two through your endeavors straight away.
Qualities conducive to enlightenment are like a highway:
This road has been and will be traveled by noble people throughout all time,
Beginning with the four essential recollections, there are thirty-seven factors in all—
Make an effort to develop them straight away.
Kindness is like one’s parents:
Caring ceaselessly for their children, the six kinds of beings.
Their love forever aids and enables success (in the dharma) to be realized—
Familiarize yourself with kindness straight away.
Compassion is like the Bodhisattvas, the Buddhas’ spiritual heirs:
Clothed in the armor of diligence, they desire to free
Beings from suffering, as if the pain were their own—
Let compassion grow in yourself straight away.
Joy is like the considerate family elders:
Happy over the welfare of others,
They delight in providing for such benefits—
Attend intensively to rejoicing straight away.
Equanimity is like the level earth:
Without attachment or aversion to those near or far, and free from hardship,
Great bliss emerges from its everlasting evenness—
Familiarize yourself with equanimity straight away.
Aspiration and diligence, needed for realizing enlightenment, are like a true leader:
The helmsman, steering you to the island of deliverance where complete goodness is found,
Not deterred by worldliness, the value in others stands out—
Over and over again bring aspiration and diligence to life straight away.
Devotion is like the great ocean and the high seas:
Full of what is wholesome, maintaining one taste throughout,
Its waves of faith surge, never ceasing—
Let devotion swell in your heart straight away.
Dedication is like the inexhaustible treasure of the sky:
By dedicating everything to the realm of reality,
Wealth will not lessen but will grow even more.
Within the sole sufficient Dharmakaya, the other two kaya are spontaneously present—
Purify the three kayas from mind’s substantiation straight away.
Rejoicing is like the vault of the sky:
Its merits are unlimited;
It is insubstantial and without pride,
Thoroughly unimpeded and unshakable
Let rejoicing grow on and on straight away.
Furthermore, mindfulness is like an iron hook:
It keeps in check the untamed, drunken elephant of mind.
Turning it away from evil and tying it to what is wholesome—
Let mindfulness reside in you straight away.
Alertness is like an attentive sentinel:
It does not offer the thief, non-virtue, a chance;
It is there to guard the wealth of goodness—
Have such alertness with you straight away.
Concern is like the world-encircling mountain:
It is safe from the thieving crowd of emotions
And it commands the army that defeats karmic actions—
Endeavor to guard the mind straight away.
Trust is like a fertile field:
It lets all aspirations grow into the harvest of enlightenment;
The field of bliss here and hereafter,
Trust always yields good fortune—
Let it increase straight away.
Generosity is like a lovely lotus pond:
What is genuine gathers there, delightful to behold.
It is true enjoyment; it is its own reward—
Let generosity bring joy to others straight away.
Pleasant speech is like the sound of thunder:
It captivates and pleases the minds of beings,
It reverberates around those to be taught and makes them feel happy—
Gladden others by singing their praises straight away.
Calm behavior is like a true sage:
Non-virtue ceases and people’s trust increases.
Give up artificiality and make this natural discipline
Your supreme conduct straight away.
Sacred Dharma is like the Buddha’s power:
In accord with everything, yet superior to all;
Similar to everything, yet dissimilar to all—
Let it reside in yourself straight away.
This precious human body, with its freedoms and endowments, is like a phantom house:
For a while it is there, but the time of collapse is uncertain.
It will not linger, you must part with it—
Remember this again and again, straight away.
Opportunities are unstable, like autumn clouds:
Their occasion is certain to dissipate;
They have no substantiality—
Thoroughly and from your heart understand this straight away.
All beings are transients, like past and future guests:
The old have gone; the young will also go.
This generation won’t even last a hundred years—
Understand this thoroughly straight away.
The presence of this life is like a single day:
The presence of the bardo is like tonight’s dream.
The presence of rebirth will come as quickly as tomorrow—
Deal with life’s real meaning straight away.
When all that is important has been illustrated by appropriate examples,
To those who have firm faith, my exhortation is this:
"What has come together will have to separate."
Hence I shall not tarry, but will proceed to the island of deliverance.
Since no reliance can be placed on the phenomena of samsara
Let me sit down firmly on dharmata’s unborn throne.
The apparent phenomena of this world are like a trickster,
A deceitful, wanton whore.
Since they turn the mind from virtue and cause the crowd of emotions to increase,
Send them far away and practice what is wholesome.
Without contentment, even ‘wealth’ is poverty.
The avaricious mind enjoys no satisfaction.
Contentment itself is the greatest wealth;
Even a little fills the mind with happiness.
Wine and lovers are the source of emotional turmoil.
Dismiss such thoughts which cause wantingness, clinging and attachment.
Set out to emulate the sages
And contemplate in mountain solitudes the value of peacefulness.
With mind focussed on virtue, day and night,
Renounce wrong doings and adopt what is beneficial, as the Buddha has advised:
Unswervingly practice what is wholesome.
Then you need not worry about death,
For things will develop as they should.
Through actions and prayers developed over a long period of time,
Learning and commitment naturally reside in the disciples who must eventually go their own ways.
So also teacher and disciple must part—
Know them to be like customers in a marketplace.
These words are spoken from the heart, for your sole benefit:
Give up the distractions and diversions of this life
Which are provided by country, property, friends and relatives,
And cultivate meditation in quiet places.
When nothing prevails anymore, and the time has come to pass on,
You need the dharma to be fearless of death.
Familiarize yourself with the profound quintessence of the guru’s instruction.
Make endeavor to realize it straight away.
Exert yourself to accomplish this ultimate bliss, good through and through,
The very light within,
This mystery of this heart of hearts,
The most supreme, the path towards buddhahood within a single lifetime.
Seek the dharma which virtuous people transmit
By possessing the immortality-giving essence, dharmata’s profound truth.
Experience it’s unique meaning through the power of your endeavor
And quickly reach the citadel of the Victorious Ones.
Straight away bliss supreme is realized and
Even at a later time benefits accrue.
Strive from now on for the quintessence of dharma
With its vast qualities both seen and unseen.
The stars, attendants of the full moon in a cloudless sky, have assembled,
The Lord of stars himself is about to arise.
The lotus face of the Lord of Compassion is made even more beautiful
By the host of Dakas and Dakinis,
With their canopies, umbrellas, royal standards and courtly music.
Gently he breathes on me, intimating my acceptance.
The time has come to go;
Like a traveler, I must be on my way.
My joy in dying has been well earned:
It is greater than all the wealth in the ocean a merchant may have won, or
The godlike power of having conquered armies, or
The bliss found in meditation.
So I, Padma Lay Drel Tsal, wait no longer,
But go to sit firmly on my seat in the bliss supreme that knows no death.
This life is finished, Karma is exhausted, what supplication could achieve has ended;
Worldliness is done with; this life’s show is over.
Having realized, in one moment, the very nature of self-manifestation
Through the vast realms in the bardo,
I am close to taking up my seat at the beginning of all and everything.
The riches found in myself have made the minds of others happy,
Through this magic existence the opulence of the island of deliverance has been realized.
Having been with you, my excellent disciples, during this time,
I have been satiated with the joy of dharma.
Now that the connection with this life has lost its karmic power,
Do not lament about this beggar who died happily and unattached,
But constantly pray (that we be together in spirit).
These words spoken for your benefit
Are like a multitude of lotus flowers gladdening the bee-like faithful followers.
Through the good of these words may the beings of the three worlds
Go to the place of the origin of all and everything, Transcendence.
Editor’s Note: The original translation of this teaching was done by Herbert V. Guenther and first appeared in Crystal Mirror V, by Dharma Publishing, 1971. This present version was reworked and edited in Crestone, Colorado, September 2000.