Consciousness Transference

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Consciousness Transference ('pho ba)

  • The process of the transference of consciousness (Skt. saṃkrānti) at the moment of death enables the deceased to acquire liberation from cyclic existence during the intermediate states. If capable the deceased will have trained in the distinctive practices of consciousness transference during his or her lifetime, and then directly apply the technique at the time of death. Otherwise, the transference may be successfully applied on behalf of the deceased by an accomplished practitioner. Diverse modes of consciousness transference may be applied. Among them, the optimum modes are: consciousness transference into the buddha-body of reality (chos sku'i 'pho ba); consciousness transference into the buddha-body of perfect resource (longs sku'i 'pho ba); and consciousness transference into the buddha-body of emanation (sprul sku'i 'pho ba); but there are also techniques enabling ordinary persons to transfer consciousness into more favourable modes of rebirth (tha mal pa'i 'pho ba) whether they die gradually or suddenly. The technique of consciousness transference may be taught in the context of the preliminary practices (sngon 'gro) of meditation, as in the tradition of 'Jigs-med gLing-pa, or in the context of the perfection stage (sampannakrama) of meditation, as in the celebrated Six Yogas of Nāropa (na ro chos drug), while, in the tradition of the Great Perfection, the term 'great consciousness transference' or "great transformation" ('pho ba chen po) refers to the actual attainment of the rainbow-like buddha-body of form. All practitioners are advised to undertake training in the technique of consciousness transference in the course of their lives. Among the signs of successful training, a minute hole will appear at the anterior fontanelle on the crown of the head, enabling consciousness to depart from the central channel should death occur. In this regard, it is important to recognise the signs indicative of the onset of death as and when they arise, and to apply the ritual antidotes which might avert these signs and postpone death. Only when such signs constantly recur without the possibility of being averted by ritual means, and death becomes imminent, should the dying person take recourse to the transference of consciousness. GD (from the Glossary to Tibetan Elemental Divination Paintings)