Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Clinical vs Actual Death

According to Tibetan Buddhism, a person does not really die upon cessation of the breath or pulse alone. Often when the doctor pronounces the clinical death, we assume the person is dead. But I heard a teaching that the person is truely dead only if you see either a white or red (or combination of both, so it may appear brownish) liquid flows out from the person's nose, mouth or private parts.

I have heard of a true story where a person who had been pronounced dead clinically. Then her relatives and family members proceeded to wash her face with a cloth. Suddenly she wakes up while they were doing so. So you see the danger of not checking for this white/red liquid. You could be burying or burning the person alive. And that's committing the karma of killing... even though there is no intention on your part. So, be careful about this.

I didnot know of this previously, so if you were like me too, please share this piece of info with your family members, relatives and friends. It could save somebody's life from premature death.

About organ donation, it naturally mean that the person had not yet died, but only clinically dead. But as required in a organ donation, the organs need to be taken out as soon as possible to preserve it. Hence when the doctor is cutting up your body without the use of sedatives, the process of mind and body dissolution is still happening. It means your consciousness may not completely left the body, in fact, the indestructible drop may not even open yet. It is only when the indestructible drop opens that the consciousness is said to leave the body. The Tibetan Buddhists are very advanced in the science of death and dying, and they know the subject inside out. They are so good at it that they are able to use death and the process in it for achievement of Buddhahood.

So back to organ donation. You better think carefully before you sign up for organ donation. Before I heard this teaching I also support organ donation. Now I also support but would like to add a CAUTION. You really need to seriously have true bodhicitta before deciding to pledge your organs. Otherwise, if and when the doctor cuts up your body and there is a possibility that there could arise anger in your mind at that time. Then you could be doomed to a lower rebirth. You better not have any REGRET at that time. If there is any regret or anger, any great merit that would have otherwise generated is now gone down the drain. Not gone totally (i.e. if the organ is able to benefit somebody after successful organ transplant), but not in the immediate future. This is because, due to your anger and regret, you will be reborn in the lower realms.

However, many Buddhists (especially the Theravadin Buddhists) will tell you they donot believe in the state of bardo after death. But if what the Tibetan Buddhists say is true, you seriously got to give yourself some time to think over whether you are really that benevolent to give your organs at "death". Will you regret or feel disturb if people start cutting you up at death. Or, would you not mind going to lower rebirth (even if eons and eons) but is able to benefit one human? I really have no answer and I am not trying to discourage organ donation. However we really got to think the consequences properly. Sometimes the answer is not really that clear cut as others would have us believe it to be. Sometimes it is we ourselves who are fooling ourselves. Sometimes we are simply ignorant or merely not wanting to accept the truth.

Having said that, think carefully and do what's best for yourself and others!

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