If the meditator is able to use whatever occurs in his life as the path,
his body becomes a retreat hut. ~ Jigme Lingpa
So, for all my listening to Buddhist audios and contemplating bardos, when I came out from under anesthesia I was playing Pokemon rather than chanting mantras or meditating on bliss! My fingers were pushing buttons of a (nonexistent) video game controller as I emerged, solving who knows what. Funny.
I had tried to let the process be a micro run-through of what many say it is like to die [entering alone], attempting a sample of mind. I did see that although loneliness doesn’t have to be the case–my great grandmother talked to angels in her hospital room before passing–there did seem to arise stark aloneness for me beforehand, and with that, anxiety.
Pronouncing the aloneness was indifference of medical staff talking over my head about how long or short their shifts were, which ones were unlucky in getting which patients. An anesthesiologist asked for music preference; I began to chime in, but it wasn’t me she wasn’t asking. I wasn’t there as a person to interact with.
There was also the pre-registration question of religious affiliation, to which I answered “None”, then questioned what I might have said. As much as we live in a time when everyone easily professes to be meditating or doing yoga, Buddhism still gives pause.
Still, I should probably have some answer. I’ve accepted that the death process described in Buddhist texts is not possible for most lay practitioners in the US (especially those outside of near Buddhist community), and part of me thinks, that being so, what does it matter if a priest or rabbi comes to my bedside? Perhaps any stranger with a kind heart will do, or a “none”, like me.
(I wanted to be a nun when a child, until told that was just for Catholics.). 😉
Buddhism didn’t arrive on my radar until I was at least 17.
Another take-away is that I’m actually less guarded than I thought. I love the wise humor of a Pokemon game mingling with bardo teachings; it feels like a mischievous lesson about lightening up! The bardo course isn’t so different from a modern video game if you think about it… meeting monsters, discerning false leads, not going this way but that, keeping a clear mind sans panic, etc.
“Don’t worry, there is nothing real about your confusion.” ~ Lojong