The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra Wisdom at the Hour of Death

In the language of India: Āryātyaya jñāna nāma mahāyāna sūtra
In the language of Tibet: ’Phags pa ’da’ ka ye shes zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
In the language of English: The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra, Wisdom at the Hour of Death

Homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas!

Thus I have heard at one time. The Blessed One was dwelling in the palace of the king of gods in Akaniṣṭha and teaching the Dharma to the entire retinue when the bodhisattva mahāsattva Ākāśagarbha prostrated to the Blessed One and asked him the following question, “O Blessed One, how should a bodhisattva view the mind at the moment of death?”

The Blessed One replied, “Ākāśagarbha, at the time of death, the bodhisattva should cultivate the wisdom of the hour of death. As for wisdom of the hour of death, you should cultivate the perception of insubstantiality since all phenomena are naturally pure. You should cultivate the perception of great compassion since all phenomena are contained within bodhicitta. You should cultivate the perception referencelessness since all phenomena are naturally luminous. You should cultivate the perception of utter non-attachment since all things are impermanent. You should cultivate the perception of not searching for buddhahood elsewhere since the mind is wisdom when realized.” The Blessed One then spoke in verse:

Since all things are by nature pure
Cultivate the perception of insubstantiality.
Since they are possessed of bodhicitta
Cultivate the perception of great compassion.
Since all phenomena are by nature luminous
Cultivate the perception of referencelessness.
Since all things are impermanent
Cultivate the perception of non-attachment.
The mind is what causes wisdom’s arising
And so, look not for buddhahood elsewhere!

As the Blessed One spoke thus, Ākāśagarbha and the entire gathering all rejoiced with delight and praised what the Blessed One had taught.

This completes the noble Mahāyāna Sūtra, Wisdom at the Hour of Death.

| Lhasey Lotsawa (trans. Lowell Cook), 2018.

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Buddha OTR

Title:

འདའ་ཀ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་མདོ།

’da’ ka ye shes kyi mdo

The Sutra on Wisdom at the Hour of Death

Author:

Buddha Śākyamuni

Description:

This short sutra condenses Mahāyāna pith instructions as to how one should practice at the time of death, with the recognition of the nature of mind and phenomena. An important sutra for several Tibetan lineages including the Nyingma lineage of Dzokchen, it was said to have been translated on Guru Rinpoche's recommendation for use as King Trisong Deutsen's daily practice.

Further Information and Resources:

You can also download Lhasey Lotsawa's earlier translation of this sutra along with two commentaries by Prajñāsamudra and Śāntideva in a free booklet published by Lhasey Lotsawa.

Samye Institute also offers a course built around video teachings of Kyapgön Phakchok Rinpoche giving experiential instructions based on his own contemporary commentary on the sutra.