Perhaps the most eloquent of philosophers, Plotinus refused to let people celebrate his birthday. Instead he told them to celebrate his “day of liberation.” Having dealt with much death in my life I searched for a way to respond wisely to such a dire situation. This simplified Tibetan Powa meditation can be practiced by anyone. It works whatever your religion, it can work for atheists and traditionalists alike. Here I offer a simple version I have shared with people in grief, with good results.
According to the Tibetans, the after death world is like the world of dreams. Free of the body the untrained human consciousness becomes overwhelmed by its new powers. In dreams a dreamer can manifest anything that can be imagined. In dreams the line between past and present, and sometimes future is erased. The newly dead if they have received no training are like dreamers who cannot lucid dream. They tumble from one overwhelming experience to another. If they could remember the source of all compassion, bliss and wisdom they would be saved from the maelstrom and uncertain rebirths. The good news is we can help them.
Find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed. Take a comfortable position. You can sit in a chair, or cross legged on the floor, the important thing is that you be comfortable. Unplug or switch off anything that might interrupt you. Breathe deeply and slowly. Imagine the source of all compassion, bliss and wisdom in the room with you. It doesn’t matter how you symbolize it. Jesus, Buddha, Artemis, Krishna, an angel, tetragrammaton, a cross, a star, a mathematical equation, anything that makes you feel connected to whatever you find most profound and most beautiful about the universe. Feel deep calm radiating from this source of all consciousness.
Now say the name of the recently departed. They will hear you say it and their attention will be drawn to you. Imagine them there as you knew them near you in the room. Now imagine a ray of light from the source that shines on their feet. It forgives all missteps, the kicks of bullies, stepping on people to get to the top, and all the other human errors that can be symbolized by the feet. Next a light shines on the knees to forgive both arrogant refusal to be obedient where obedience is called for, and craven submission when courageous resistance is called for, and any other human frailties that can be symbolized by the knees.
On up the body to forgive misdeeds of genitals, the stomach, the heart, the mouth, the hands and the mind. Now your departed friend is completely bathed with the light of the source of all compassion, bliss and wisdom. Imagine them blending together until your friend is absorbed in the light. Take a few deep breaths. Ring a bell or clap your hands and go do something that grounds you.
This meditation can also be performed for the living, or the long dead. Even someone who has already been reincarnated can be benefited by someone still alive in their past life performing the Powa.