Donating Organs and the Time of Death
By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche (Last Updated Sep 17, 2008)
A few years ago, an elderly woman asked Lama Zopa Rinpoche about donating her organs at the time of
death (not realizing that she was too old for her organs to be acceptable for that purpose). Here is their
Mother: People are dying because theres not enough parts and I just want your advice because I would
like&you see, Ive been always very healthymy heart, kidney, liver, everything. My eyesightI still dont need
glassesand people going blind because they need cornea and theres no replacement. So I just thought, if
you would think its good, Id like to donate my body, so that they can use the parts. The only thing is, you
always say that, when one dies, one should stay for three days quietly. But after three days, maybe the body
is not so good any more, so I just wonder what you think is the best thing to do.
Rinpoche: Normally in the Tibet, like that, where you can keep the body, where you are able to keep the
body, keep three days, like that, also, Tibet is also, I guess, also cold, not hot place. I think also, body doesnt
have smell in this area (?). So, like that.
But, that reason, thats not always case, because if the body starts to smell immediately, means the
consciousness left the body. If the body smells, whenever the body starts to smell, then, means the
consciousness left the body. So, doesnt need to keep for three days. So, it depends on these circumstances.
[Rinpoche throws mo.]
As long as&when they take the parts of the body, how long after breath stopped, do you know?
M: Well, probably the sooner the better, because when its still almost alive, not quite&but I dont know,
maybe if you keep it in a cold storeroombut then you shouldnt be putting the body in a cold storeroom
anyway, should you?
Rinpoche: Yes, yes&but I think, it would take some time& I mean, it depends on whether one die at home or
die in hospital. So if its home, you have choice; you dont need to do that immediately. They take the parts of
the body to charity, you dont have to do that immediately.
M: How long could you keep the body like that, at home?
Rinpoche: No. If its at home, then you have, theres more opportunity, gives more time to pass slowly.
There's more time. But I think even in the hospital, if somebody discuss with doctor, even like to wait for ten
minutes, fifteen minutes, wait for one hour, half hour, like that. Not immediately, right after breath stopped.
Wait for one hour or couple of hours.
M: In hospital?
Rinpoche: Even in hospital. Maybe can be discussed with doctor. To wait, to not cut immediately. To wait one
hour, half hour, even twenty minutes. Not immediately, right after breath stopped. So Im sure it can be
discussed, for example... Im sure friendly way can arrange, can arrange. So depend what they say. I heard,
right after breath stopped, then they take. But I think, maybe can be discussed, wait for one hour, half hour,
even twenty minutes, at least fifteen minutes. So, to take time.
Then, without touching any part of the body, first thing to touch is the crown, on the crown. First thing, touch
here [on the crown of the head], pull the hair. Pull the hair strongly and then&I have special substances called
po-wa pill. Po-wa pill contains Buddhas relics, and great enlightened beings, great yogis bones, relics, and
mixed with stone magnet, or iron magnet&its pill made of those things.
M: You mix the powder with what?
Rinpoche: Stone magnet, iron magnet. Mix with the Buddhas relics or high yogis, very high lamas, yogis
relics, their bones ashes mixed together. Then you put on the crown, here, stick here, attach on the skin,
then that, the magnet, pulls consciousness this way. If the consciousness left through the crown, it goes to
formless realms or the pure land of Buddha. Theres only two ways. If the consciousness went [through the
crown]. Only high realmthe pure land and the formless realm.
M: Even with bad karma?
Rinpoche: [Laughs.] Yes. For Mother, even with bad karma. Exception, exception! [Laughs.] No, that time, all
the bad karmas become good karma. [Laughs.] No bad karma that time. [Laughs.]
So the relics of buddhas, yogis, they bless the mind, and the magnet pulls the consciousness to that point.
And also Kalachakra, His Holiness the Dalai Lamas sand, sand powder. Its very good for this method, to put
here. Mix it with butter and put it here. That helps to transfer consciousness through the crown, to go to pure
land. I have pills, so I can give you. So, can do these things, like po-wa pill.
So, because, Mother, you have received Tara Cittamani initiation from Lama Yeshe, from Lama, remember?
You have received Tara Cittamani initiation from Lama Yeshe many years ago, at Noojee, remember? So
maybe what you can do is, in these days, if Mother can recite more the Thirty-five Buddha names, the prayer,
Thirty-five Buddha names, if Mother can recite Thirty-five Buddhas names. I did the oral transmission
yesterday, downstairs. So thats very, very good for purification.
M: But when do you do it?
Rinpoche: In these days; in these days, to do that, every day. To do as many times as you can, as many
times as possible. As many times as possible. Is there Kalachakra sand? [Brian: I havent seen Kalachakra
sand, Rinpoche, in the medicine bag.] Yes, maybe not. Then maybe some mani pills. The small bottle, this
So Mother received the Cittamani Tara initiation from Lama, so its very good. So also you may possibly have
a connection with Tara, so that, you think, you visualize Tara and Lama as one, on your crown.
M: When do I do that, Rinpoche?
Rinpoche: That you can do even now, but the time when you think you are dying, then that time, dont think
any other thing, just think Tara. Just think Tara on your crown, Tara oneness with Lama. If its difficult to think
of Tara, just think of Lama, that aspect. Otherwise Tara/Lama, you visualize Tara, but its Lama, Lama
Yeshe. Then think that you made strong prayer to Lama Yeshe and Tara. When you think that Now Im
going to die, then you think, make very strong prayer to Tara/Lama Yeshe.
Then you&theres a hole, central channel you thinkif you can think central channellike a trumpet
upside-down. Heres the big part, the hole [at the crown], then it stretches straight down to the navel. But the
navel is closed; theres no hole there. So, inside at the heart, yourself in the form of&size of mustard seed,
light. So thats yourself, your consciousness.
Then, you make strong prayer, from there&you can see through, from there, Tara/Lama Yeshe. Then you
make strong prayer, with whole heart rely upon Tara, Please liberate me from the unbearable, terrifying
lower realm precipices and liberate me from the terrifying oceans of samsara, and lead me to the pure land
right now, without delay even a second.
So make strong prayer, like this. Then your consciousness, like size of mustard seed, not heavy, so lightlike
cotton [wool]. Any time, it can go, it can go up, fly up, like that. So, it went from the heart to the neck chakra,
then from neck to the crown. Or, you can go one time straight; just try one time straight [to the crown]. From
there, straight going to Taras heart; Lama Yeshe/Taras heart. Or, if its easier, go outside the crown, then
from there you can go up.
Then, your mind is oneness with Tara/Lama Yeshe. Then it went up, like shooting arrow, went up to the pure
land of Tara. The pure land of Tara. It went in the pure land of Tara. So think, I have arrived in the pure land
of Tara, where theres no sufferingno rebirth, no old age, no sickness, no death. So everything is filled with
most beauty. Dakinis in the pure land procession music to you, then you are able to see Tara, receive
teachings from Tara.
So that time, just go to the pure land. But at the moment, evenings, morning, you can practice this meditation.
You go to Tara heart, then make strong prayer and shoot out to Taras heart, become oneness. You dont
need to think coming down. [Mo.] If youre coming down, you can think of yourself as a small Tara. Maybe
coming down, you dont think, dont need. Then again you become Tara, then again inside the channel, then
yourself size of a mustard seed there, at the heart, in the central channel, then again went up, shoot up to
Taras heart. So can do like that maybe twenty-one times, in one session, twenty-one times.
M: You mean doing it now, every day, every night, just to practice.
Rinpoche: Every night, do twenty-one times.
M: You just visualize it?
Rinpoche: Yes, yes. So, if you getafter one or two days, three daysif you get pus [secretion], pus coming
out, or swollen here [at crown], or get numb. Getting numb or swollen, or pus coming out, those are good
signs; numbness or swollen or pus, water, coming out; those are good signs. Or the hair&anyway&those are
When the persons dying, at that time those whose consciousness goes to pure land, that time their hair falls
down [out]. The hair falls down. This happens; recently happened.
So, just go to the heart of Tara, then stay there a little bit. Then again you become, again think of yourself as
Tara, then start again. Like that. Maybe twenty-one times in one session.
So, when you think you are actually dying, then you go to Taras heart, then to Taras pure land, like arrow.
Then think, Now I have arrived in Taras pure land. Extremely beautiful. Dakinis doing prostrations; Tara
there giving teachings; whole sky filled with scented smell; birds flying singing Dharma songs; and the wind
is&on the trees, wish-granting trees, beautiful trees blown by wind but making Dharma sound.
But this practice, based on the five powers at the time of death; five powers to be practiced near the time of
death. So thats very important. So thats what we need to train now. We have to remember what are the five,
at least their names, meaning. Then possibility to put into practice.
So the first one is the power of the white seed. Power of white seed means family, possessions, even ones
own body, to be detached, by thinking that Being attached to these things, then they cause me to be reborn
in samsara, and die, reborn numberless times, from past lives up to now, and this is only nature of suffering;
this samsara, these aggregates; in the nature of suffering. By thinking this, then try to be detached from all
Then, the virtue, the help of being detached is that, then, even they are not gone away, not given away, gone
away, they are up in the room, but the mind, what you have received, possessions, for charity to other
sentient beings, already in your mind you decided to offer merit field or to make charity to sentient beings, so
if your mind has already decided what to do, to give away, then its very good, because if there is plan like
that, your mind gets detached. So its very useful. Otherwise, when your mind is attached to ones own body,
then the sense pleasures, and the present family members and the possessions, then that attachment, even
you know the meditation techniques&
[Break for side business&.]
M: But tell me, what shall I do with my body?
Rinpoche: You can do that. You can give it away, and that is very, very good, because that will help
Mothers&because you know that that body is going to make charity, and its very good for the mind; very
good to keep the mind in a state of bodhicitta. It helps for that. Very good for that.
M: So I do all these practices you told me, and then I can give it away?
Rinpoche: Yes. So, this practice to do now, to train now, to do now, but you, actually going to pure land, like
shooting arrow, yourself Tara, then you went Taras heart, then yourself Tara/Lama Yeshe, then shoot in the
sky and pure landthat one is only when you think you are dying, but not now. Now only go to Taras heart.
Then you are therestay there a little bitthen visualize, then again you become Tara, until you finish session.
Like that. Maybe twenty-one times.
So, this practice should be based on&what makes successful, this practice, is by five powers. Five powers
which are to be practiced near the death time. So first, power of the white seed, so that explained. So
whether the things have gone away or not, but in the mind, made offering to merit field, the Buddha, Dharma,
Sangha, then the charity to other sentient beings, in the mind, if one decided, then that helps very much.
Then, your body charity to others, so it helps to not arise, to not cling. So this one, power of white seed, is
very important. To not cling these things and to make offering or to make charity to others. One way to collect
merit and one way it helps not to have attachment.
The first one is very important. The letting go of everything. If that didnt happen, by thinking that Being
attached in these things makes to die and reborn again samsara. So thats what happened from
beginningless rebirth to now. What kept me in samsara is this. Then, if mind try to be detached like this, then
thats one thing. Then the other one is, so body is given to others, Triple Gem and all other sentient beings.
Then, the next power is power of the attitude. So thats the, that one is making plan. So think, From now on, I
will never allow myself to be under the control of the self-cherishing thought, from now on, and up to death,
until death and especially today, even each second, to make strong plan like that, I will never separate away
from bodhicitta until enlightenment, until death, especially today, even for one second, I will never separate
from bodhicitta. That one is very important to do like this; strong plan. That means always to keep the mind
in the bodhicitta, thought of cherishing others. Always in that state.
Then, next one is power of blaming to one. What is that one? That is ego, self-cherishing thought. So, that,
So far, why I did not become enlightened, did not achieve liberation from samsara, didnt achieve any
realizations, so far I have been suffering in samsara, what makes me to do this, is by this ego, this great
demon ego, and if I follow this it will continuously do the same harm, will never allow me to be enlightened
and to be free from samsara. Wont allow me to have any realization. Whatever unfavorable situation, any
obstacle, any unpleasantness, whatever discomfort, anything happen, this all came from ego. This came from
ego. All this caused to me by ego. So look at the ego as the enemy. You keep separate, away from it; you
keep away from the self-cherishing thought by looking at it as enemy.
Then any unfavorable situation, any discomfort, any unpleasant, whatever happens, then you give it to the
ego. You use it like weapon, like atomic bomb, or weapon, to the ego, all this unfavorable, this unpleasant
things. Give it to the ego. Instead of taking it on yourself, give it to the ego and destroy completely the ego,
destroy, completely non-existent. So the power of blaming to one. So all the problems, undesirable thing
happens, anything, day-to-day life, even the, as I mentioned before, from beginningless rebirths to now,
suffering in samsara, all this, putting all the blames on ego. So by putting all the blames on ego, by knowing
that all this is caused by ego, then you split from the ego, then you dont follow ego, then theres a place, then
the mind is able to cherish others, able to practice bodhicitta.
Then, by having the realization of bodhicitta, then one enter in the Mahayana path, then by realizing
emptiness, together, then cease all the gross and subtle defilements and achieve enlightenment, then
enlighten all living beings, liberate numberless living beings from all the suffering and its cause and bring
them to enlightenment. So, even before realization of bodhicitta one will feel the good heart, cherishing
others, benefiting others, then one collect merit like limitless sky, good karma, merit like limitless sky. And
then, whatever action that one does becomes virtue, cause of enlightenment.
So now the last two. Next one is power of prayer. Dedicate the merits, Past, present and future merits
collected by oneself and the three time merits collected by othersbuddhas, bodhisattvas, all other sentient
beingsmay I never separate away from bodhicitta during death time, during intermediate stage, during
rebirth, all the time, may I never be separate from bodhicitta and have quickest realization of bodhicitta. Pray.
So you can think Lama Yeshe/Tara.
Then the next one is power of training. The power of training means like this, so when you know that Now
Im going to die, then you lay down, many meditators they die in meditation state by sitting, by many
meditators also by laying down they die, they pass away in the meditation on death by laying down. So,
power of training is you lay down, is called position of lion lying down, on the side. So you remember the
Buddha, you remember how Buddha passed away, this way, in the lying position, so you remember that,
because if you remember Buddha, it leaves positive imprint on the mind, so that helps the mind to become
virtue, then that helps good rebirth.
So if you can do like this [occlude right nostril with a right finger], its OK, because this breath, its the breath
of attachment, so by breaking this, it helps to not be reborn lower realms. But however, whether you can do
that or not, so put head here [in right hand on pillow], stretch two legs, then stretch this arm here, like that [left
arm down along left side], then&
M: Does it matter which side you lie on?
Rinpoche: The right side. Then, thats the position of the body, because laying down this way, it helps. Even
when we go to bed, if you able to lie down this way, spirits cannot harm you, because due to this position, the
spirits cannot harm you at night time. Like nightmares or spirits pressing down, these things dont happen.
Not only death time, even now, before we go to bed, if we remember Buddha, how Buddha passed away in
the lion position, then you keep that position, then either mind in guru devotion, thinking of Lama one with
Tara with devotion, or compassion to other living beings, or emptiness, or taking other sentient beings
suffering and destroy the ego, then give everythingones own body in the form of wish-granting jewel and
possessions and merits, all the three time merits, all the result happiness, all up to enlightenment, give
everything to every hell being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every human being, every sura being, every
asura being, every intermediate stage being, that all their place become pure land, like Amitabha pure land,
like Tara pure land.
All the hell realm, the unbelievable cold ice mountain, ice plain, then iron ground oneness with fire, iron house
oneness with fire, all these completely become pure land, so beautiful, and mandala, jewel palace, all the
weapons become flowers.
Then pretas, so everything become pure land, then, their main suffering is hunger and thirst, so they receive
billions of nectar, like oceans of nectar, drink and nectar food, for pretas. Billions, like a big market, they
receive so much, and they enjoy. So they enjoyed these things, they receive everything what they want and
what they need and cause them to have realizations of the path, method and wisdom, cease all their
defilements, they all become enlightened. Every hell being become enlightened, every hungry ghost become
enlightened, every animal.
Particular for animals, so their place become pure land after you give everything. Then their main suffering is
being eaten by other ones, all these things, being fool and being eaten, so they all receive protection.
Vajrapani appeared (?) and being attacked by other animals and by human beings, danger to be killedthey
become free of all this, they receive everything what they want and need, then by enjoying that, caused them
to actualize path of method and wisdom, cease all their defilements, they all become Tara. So you can think
everyone become Tara: every hell being become Tara, every hungry ghost become Tara, every animal&.
Then you give everything to all human beings. Then, every human being received rainfalls of dollars, billion
dollars, all their houses fully packed with money, wealth, dollars. Like rain. Everyone receive rainfalls, billions
of dollars, and all their place become pure land, they received everything what they want, what they
needthey dont know what they need, butguru, Dharma, all these things. Then they enjoy all this and then
cause to actualize path of method and wisdom, ceases all the defilements, gross and subtle, they all become
Then, same thing sura and asura, same. The sura, asuras, armor, particular thing is armor, what they need is
armor. So everything you give becomes armor, and also guru, teachings. Then same, they all become
enlightened in Tara.
Then intermediate state beings, place becomes pure land. They totally free from incredible, terrifying fears.
Their karmic view, suffering like mountains of waves, they chased away, or wind, incredible heavy
unbelievably strong wind, and then fire and all this, so all this stop completely, all these fears and dangers. All
the place become pure land, then there is whatever the want, whatever they need. Ones own body,
wish-granting jewel body, possessions, three time merits, all the happiness, so they receive. So they receive
whatever they want, whatever they need, then cause them to actualize the path, cease the defilement, they
all become Tara.
Now, you can do like this. Then, when you are actually, when the time of actual dying, that time, maybe do
more of taking. If you can do more taking, all their suffering, causes, then try to die with the bodhicitta,
cherishing others. Exchanging oneself for others, with the meditation of taking all their suffering, cause of
sufferingdelusion, karmatheir particular death, numberless sentient beings who are&taking on oneself. Then
absorbed through the nose, absorbed in the ego, then destroyed the ego. So you keep on doing this. So try
to die with that meditation, bodhicitta. But if you prefer to do giving, then also that. Take, give, take, give.
But if you prefer, then you meditate on emptiness, then you take all the suffering, cause, all the death, went
inside, completely destroyed the ego, totally become non-existent. Then, even the I that ego cherishes so
much, the real I that appears to one, even this become totally non-existent. Then you stay in that state of
emptiness. Then try to pass away. Thats one choice.
M: After the death, how soon could they use my body? Should there be an interval?
Rinpoche: To be able to use the body, I dont know whats the minimum time. If its OK for one hour&it has to
be arranged with a doctor. If its OK for one hour, keep for one hour.
M: But you think one hour is all right?
Rinpoche: Yes, yes. One hour, Anyway, twenty minutes, half hour, one hour, I mean, if its OK longer, its OK,
but depends what the doctor, minimum time that its OK to give the body to others.
But then, the important thing is, that breath stopped, then your body is still soft; not become hard; still soft.
Like same as not dead. Breath stopped but everything is like sleeping. So, whatever the name of the time the
doctor gives, just before that, in any case, after the breath stopped, dont touch any part of the body. Just
leave it. Then, if need touch, before the doctor does the operation [to remove parts], then pull the center hair
[at the crown] and put this pill here [po-wa pill on the crown]. This is special water. This is from Mt. Kailash.
This is Vajrayogini water. And anybody who drink this, it is said, go to pure land, and anybody who washes in
this or drinks this.
M: So when do you drink it?
Rinpoche: When you think you are dying, that time you drink this. So, make sure the other people who are
looking after you, ask them to put. Just, when the breath is about to stop, or during those momentsif its
possible before the breath stops, thats very good. This [giving Mother pills], this pill is this one [mani pill to
put in water or take daily]; this is the pill, to put here [po-wa pill for crown].
M: This is the mustard seed&?
Rinpoche: No, this is the precious [po-wa] pill to put here [on the crown]. So this one [mani pill], you can take
any time, every day two, but when you think that now it seems death is happening, then that time, crush, put
in the water, in the bottle here, then either you drink or someone put in mouth with spoon. This is His
Holiness the Dalai Lamas mani pill. Many deity meditators, thousands of Tibetan people, they chant mantra,
M: Rinpoche, how often do you do that?
Rinpoche: Oh, these you take two, three a day.
M: Any time? Even now?
Rinpoche: Yes, any time you can take. Morning, before meditation, you take. And think your mind is
completely, that time, received all the qualities of Compassionate Buddha [Chenrezig], bodhicitta. Received
realization of bodhicitta and omniscient mind, all the qualities of Compassionate Buddha. Especially at the
time of death, crush and put in bottle, then to shake and then either somebody put in mouth or you put this
way, to bless.
M: Well, thank you Rinpoche, Ive taken up so much of your time. (Rinpoche: No problem, no problem.) I
thought Ill be ten minutes, so that was wonderful.
Rinpoche: I thought [this was] ten minutes! No, Im very happy, very happy to do this for Mother. Very
important. Im very happy; this so important, and Im very happy to help Mother.
So this, Mother study this, or listen again, and so then, if you meditate on these things now, in every day,
besides this one, the one with five power, then at the time, when the death comes, very easy, all this
M: Yes, Ill be listening every day.
Rinpoche: Sure, thats very good. And also&before the doctor&in case&[ mo]&in case still in meditation state,
breath stopped and long time meditation state, then before the time, if the meditation is not over, then
incense, can light incense; person whos round light incense. So incense makes to stop meditation. Light
incense, or maybe even put in here [not sure what this means], light incense, then that makes stop
meditation, so then the doctor can do things.
So, I think thats it. Anyway, Mother is very lucky, Mother is very lucky. Met Lama, met His Holiness the Dalai
Lama and Lama Yeshe.
M: Wheres my little thing [blessing string]? Thats still from Lama Yeshe, this, is it the red one? I never take it
off. You see? Its so thin already.
Rinpoche: When from? During his last time? During his last visit?
M: I think he gave it early, in Kopan. In 1973 or 74.
Rinpoche: Actually, I just thought this morning, just come to the home, just stop short time to home, just for
cup of tea. I thought this morning. I did not know that Mother is coming here. I didnt know.
M: You didnt know that I was coming?
Rinpoche: No, I didnt. I thought, this morning thought came, Oh, I go to house, just to chat, just cup of tea.
M: Yes, I told Yeshe Khadro that I wanted to talk to you about this. Because I didnt tell anybody about it yet,
but I told last night Yeshe Khadro and she said that I should get your advice.
Rinpoche: No, I didnt know. Thought just came to me this morning that maybe I should go to visit you, just
for cup of tea and chat a little bit.
M: Well, thank you so much. I really thought Ill be ten minutes, Ill just ask you the question, youll say yes or
no, so thats wonderful. Its maybe the last time?
Rinpoche: No, this is really my great pleasure. Really.
M: So kind. So, I dont know, will I still see you in this life?
Rinpoche: Well, my time is uncertainty. I may come at any time to Australia.
M: Well, youve got so many places that everybody wants you. Its very difficult.
Rinpoche: Yes, right, yes. But now His Holiness the Dalai Lama is coming; next year.
M: Where is he coming to?
Rinpoche: Melbourne. Then after, again the next year, coming. Yes, two times. So, greater opportunity.
M: We all went to Sydney. That was about four years ago.
M: When His Holiness gave a Kalachakra.
Rinpoche: Thats right, thats right. Wasnt that wonderful?
M: Oh, terrific.
M: I mean, just to see him, its so, its so&I dont have words.
Rinpoche: Yes, youre right, Mother. Youre right.
M: And you know, not just Buddhists. Everybody think of him so. Just, you can feel that its different person&
Rinpoche: Sure, definitely, definitely&
M: So maybe one day, Tibet will be free. Who knows?
Rinpoche: Yes, its taking much time.