Basic wisdom of the sphere of reality these are

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basic wisdom of the sphere of reality; these are wisdoms that belong to a person who has not yet attained buddhahood). The basic mirrorlike wisdom is an ordinary consciousness that has many objects appearing to it simultaneously, in the way that objects appear in a mirror. The basic wisdom of equality is an ordinary consciousness that is aware of pleasure, pain, and neutral feeling as being of one nature. When one experiences this consciousness, one is no longer cognizant of the pleasure, pain, or neutral feelings that previously accompanied sensa- tions which gave rise to these feelings. The basic wisdom of analysis is an ordinary consciousness that recognizes the names of people who are dear to one. During the process of death this fades and vanishes, signaling one’s imminent detachment from things that had previously been viewed as important. The basic wisdom of accomplishment is a consciousness that is aware of ordinary activities and goals. As one’s life fades, this dimin- ishes and disappears, signaling that one is losing interest in worldly activities. The basic wisdom of the sphere of reality is the subtlest of these, and its passing indicates that attachments to one’s previous life have been cut off. 332 / introduction to tibetan buddhism
When a person dies naturally (that is, when death is not a result of a violent act or sudden accident), the various constituents of the psy- chophysical continuum begin to disintegrate. Initially the form aggregate and the basic mirrorlike wisdom begin to degenerate simultaneously, along with the earth element and the eye sense power. 8 Physically, the earth ele- ment dissolves into the water element. The external signs of this process include a noticeable decrease in vitality and a weakening of the body, which feels very heavy. The dying person’s eyes begin to blur, and it becomes increasingly dif fi cult to move the limbs. These changes are appar- ent both to the dying person and to others. At the same time, the dying person perceives an inner sign, which is a miragelike appearance that seems to fi ll all of space. This is similar to the appearance of water in a desert mirage in the summer. As the Dalai Lama describes this process, The fi rst stage is represented by the dissolution of the aggregate of forms. In rough terms, when the aggregate of forms begins to disin- tegrate, this means that the earth constituent is losing its force in the sense of becoming less capable of serving as a basis of consciousness. Simultaneously with this, the capacity of the water constituent in your body to serve as a basis for consciousness becomes more mani- fest; this process is called “dissolution of the earth constituent into the water constituent.” 9 The second phase of the death process involves the degeneration of the feeling aggregate simultaneously with the basic wisdom of equality, together with the water element and the ear sense power. Physically the water element dissolves into the fi re element, and then the fi re element begins to weaken. The outer signs of this process are a loss of the ability

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