Ann's family and I have stayed in touch. They asked me what I believe happened to Ann after she died. I cut personal stuff out and thought it might interest someone as a post. If not, ignor it. This is Only my understanding, which is limited. I am not a scholar, have not been on but One Buddhist retreat, what I have tried to learn is from audiotaped books. Don't take it as a perfect or complete explanation, Please.
The Buddhist belief about the after life is that one's energy and awareness continue,
though not in the same way or at the same speed as for physical beings. Dying Buddhists
have reported that time speeds up so that Much can happen in what we would consider
a minute. When I think about it, if Thought is the primary mover in what Ann referred
to as the Energy World, it would go faster, with no body to function (or hurt) and
no need for speech.
Buddhists believe that after death most people don't know they have died. There
are helpers and a short time of Sacred Mind Clarity, in which one can choose to step
Out of the realm of karma and re-incarnation. If this is done one can exist as a
being of pure energy, including a Buddha, (one who has left all "poisons of the mind"
behind, or a Bodhisatva, one who Chooses to come back, either physically or to remain
in the Energy Realm, for Only the purpose of helping all living beings, not just
humans, but including them. That is why a Buddhist may have what is referred to
as a "Heart Connection" a special love for and trust in a particular Bodhisattva.
If the "poisons of the mind" are not released or if a person runs away from the Light,
the moments of "Clear Mind" then they will reincarnate. They may come back in any
form, tree, human, bird, farm animal, etc. depending upon Which mind poison is dominating
There are five mind poisons. The first is usually translated as "attachment" but
I like the translation "craving" better. Craving is a very strong ruling desire
for physical life, even after one is clear about the fact that they have died. It
is the belief that without, (anything from a partner to a certain amount of safety,
or power, or chocolate) one Cannot go on. It is clinging to an idea of an unchanging
self and refusing to change. It can be a driving belief that something Cannot be
faced and Must be run from, no matter the consequences.
The second mind poison is aversion or hatred. Hatred is easy to define. But a desperate
feeling of revulsion, repulsion, or avoidance of something, at All Costs, is also
a mental poison which can push one into another reincarnation.
A third mental poison is (and the most important) ignorance, meaning Willful ignorance.
I don't want to know because a thing makes me unhappy, so I will ignore those people,
that stray, hungry, animal, etc. This is willful ignorance. So is, I know my (whoever)
is being abused but I fdon't want to learn how to help them or my needs take precedents.
So is, nobody suffers like me, an American life is worth more than a life somewhere
else. This ignkorance sets up a non-existing division between "me and mine" and
"those Others" who are less worthy, important, etc. If we really all felt the pain
of other beings as our own, there would be no war, no hunger, etc.
A fourth mind poison is envy or jealousy. How come that person got a better job
than me when I am a better Person? Jealousy really results from inner insecurity,
I feel bad that I wasn't a good enough friend to please someone (whether this is
true or untrue) so I am jealous of the time and attention MY friend spends with someone
else. I really wanted a thing badly which someone else got. I am angry that they
got it instead of me, but underneath is usually the question, "if I Really Earned
that thing, why didn't I get it?" which is insecurity.
The last mind poison is arrogance or pride. This is Not happiness that I learned
to do a thing I wanted to learn. It is thinking I am Special, More important than
others, am Better at whatever than they are. Next thought is usually, "So I deserve
. . ." Arrogance is thinking our skin color, hair texture, language, country, food,
social class, religion, , is not just a thing which makes us thankful or appreciative.
But it makes us Better than others. It's the feeling that one has a Right to (whatever)
and that nothing should change because WE Deserve (whatever) while Those People Don't.
The world Owes us. It has many forms.
Ann was among the most highly evolved spiritual people I knew. She wasn't perfect
and neither am I. I cannot say with certainty what Ann chose during her time of
Clear Mind, after death. But I believe, without proof, that she will remain in the
Energy realm for a while, not as the Ann we knew, but with all of the abilities and
awareness we lose when we become physical. I think, without proof, that she will
try to help those she loved and those who need spiritual guidance.
This explanation is only my understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, which Ann and I tried
to follow and still do. In Tibetan Buddhism there is not veneration of ancestors
as there is in some, most, other Buddhist countries. It is because when someone
dies they Cease being who they were. In my mind, Ann will always be a certain set
of things. But who the one I call Ann is now and what that being is doing is something
I cannot know. She has stopped being the Ann I knew and gone on to become something,
A major concept of Buddhism is Impermanence. It means that Absolutely Nothing remains
the same. Feelings come and go, the body and circumstances of life change, where
we live can change in a heartbeat of a tornado or earthquake, nothing is secure Except,
the thoughts we cultivate and the acts of loving kindness we leave behind.
So for me to chant to and about Ann in a religious ceremony is chanting to someone
who no longer exists.
I honor her Memory, what she taught me, the fun we had, the many good things she
brought into my life. But I know that the being who was Ann has moved on to become
In Tibet there is a Buddhist expression, "Oh my mother, living being" which sounds
very weird in English. But it is the belief that at one time or another each of
us has been the mother of the other. So if I want to be nice to my ancestors I'd
better try and be kind to the people around me Now.
I know that much of this belief system is not the same as Christianity. But I hope
I have explained it in a way which might makes sense. Buddhists believe in Not harming
the religions of others, not trying to convert others or do damage to the beliefs
which have helped them through life. So please know I'm Not in any mood to argue
about any of this, disagreement if fine. Buddhists Do disagree with violence in
the Name of religion, because we try Not to commit violence or condone it. But we
don't attack anyone's religion.
I like to think of the Dalai Lama's words when asked about his religious stand.
He said, "my religion is loving kindness". And though I fail, especially in thought,
that is what I aspire to, my religion being loving kindness.