True Yogis Die Like Dogs

A retreat lama once died in the retreat place where I and my main lamas and their root lama (Lama Tsepal) stayed. It was before my time though. The lama who had died was sitting upright on his seat in meditation posture, while other retreatants were doing prayers and meditating. When Lama Tsepal entered the room, he said: “Why is this corpse sitting upright like a zombie. Lie him down, as is natural for a corpse.”

When an average yogi is about to die, they will usually adopt the meditation posture and try to pass away seated like that. Emulating this, these days when a lama has passed away, the students will often prop the corpse up in meditation posture with cushions and the like.

A true yogi, however, is said to be happy to die like a dog by the side of the road. This makes sense if we think about it. The practice of a true yogi is uncontrived and free from hope and fear. So wouldn’t it be a shame to abandon that at the last minute, in hope of a fortunate outcome after death and fearing an unfavourable rebirth.

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