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basic wisdom of the sphere of reality; these are wisdoms that belong to aperson who has not yet attained buddhahood).The basic mirrorlike wisdom is an ordinary consciousness that hasmany objects appearing to it simultaneously, in the way that objects appearin a mirror. The basic wisdom of equality is an ordinary consciousnessthat is aware of pleasure, pain, and neutral feeling as being of one nature.When one experiences this consciousness, one is no longer cognizant ofthe pleasure, pain, or neutral feelings that previously accompanied sensa-tions which gave rise to these feelings. The basic wisdom of analysis is anordinary consciousness that recognizes the names of people who are dearto one. During the process of death this fades and vanishes, signaling one’simminent detachment from things that had previously been viewed asimportant. The basic wisdom of accomplishment is a consciousness thatis aware of ordinary activities and goals. As one’s life fades, this dimin-ishes and disappears, signaling that one is losing interest in worldlyactivities. 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 beencut off.332/introduction to tibetan buddhism
When a person dies naturally (that is, when death is not a result of aviolent act or sudden accident), the various constituents of the psy-chophysical continuum begin to disintegrate. Initially the form aggregateand the basic mirrorlike wisdom begin to degenerate simultaneously, alongwith the earth element and the eye sense power.8Physically, the earth ele-ment dissolves into the water element. The external signs of this processinclude a noticeable decrease in vitality and a weakening of the body,which feels very heavy. The dying person’s eyes begin to blur, and itbecomes increasingly difficult to move the limbs. These changes are appar-ent both to the dying person and to others. At the same time, the dyingperson perceives an inner sign, which is a miragelike appearance that seemsto fill all of space. This is similar to the appearance of water in a desertmirage in the summer. As the Dalai Lama describes this process,The first stage is represented by the dissolution of the aggregate offorms. In rough terms, when the aggregate of forms begins to disin-tegrate, this means that the earth constituent is losing its force in thesense of becoming less capable of serving as a basis of consciousness.Simultaneously with this, the capacity of the water constituent inyour body to serve as a basis for consciousness becomes more mani-fest; this process is called “dissolution of the earth constituent intothe water constituent.”9The second phase of the death process involves the degeneration of thefeeling aggregate simultaneously with the basic wisdom of equality,together with the water element and the ear sense power. Physically thewater element dissolves into the fire element, and then the fire elementbegins to weaken. The outer signs of this process are a loss of the ability