Living is Dying
EVERY SUNDAY 5:30-6.30PM AEST
March 20 to November 27
In addition: Note the special stand-alone session Sunday May 1st 11am – 12:30pm with guest speaker Elizabeth Mattis Namgyal "How does a dementia death look like for a Buddhist practitioner?"
ZOOM LINK FOR ALL SESSIONS - To join a live session: Click This Link
Meeting ID: 890 4955 2743 Passcode: 729167
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* Ordained Sangha are welcome to attend at no cost.
Be part of this learning experience. An invitation to explore, through Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s book Living is Dying, how an awareness of death benefits not only at the time of dying, but also in our day-to-day living.
Jakob Leschly, and a team of speakers involved in the fields of death and dying, will lead panel discussions and guided meditations, and offer presentation of the practical application of Buddhist practices before and after death. Click to read more about the Living is Dying Presentation Team
“Shouldn’t we all try to contemplate the inevitability of our own death at least once this lifetime? Particularly as every one of us will die – itself a crucially important piece of information. Doesn’t putting some effort into processing the inescapable fact of our own death make sense?” Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Begin your journey by downloading 'Living is Dying.' Click Here for free download of 'Living is Dying'
- Click HERE for a folder with all videos, audio recordings and related materials. Recordings of individual session are also listed week-by-week, below.
Session by Session - Readings, Recordings and Resources
Session 1 - Sunday March 20th 5.30 - 6.30pm (Led by Jakob)
Introduction to the Living is Dying program
Preface; Will I Die?
Session concludes with a meditation on “The Certainty of Death”
Pages 1-4; e-book 1-8
Link to recording
Session 2 - Sunday March 27th 5.30 - 6.30pm (Led by Jakob)
Introduction to the Living is Dying program by Tsering (.....link to recording of Tsering)
Fear of Death by Ani Zangmo and Kirsten
Life is an Illusion; Relax your Expectations; Relax your Selfishness; Reduce your Attachment to Worldly Life
Session includes ‘Emulate Zhuang Zhou’ contemplations
Pages 4-11; e-book 8-15
Link to recording
Session 3 - Sunday April 3rd 5.30-6.30pm (Led by Jakob)
Introduction by Tsering including discussion with Jangchub on “Will nothing help at the moment of death?”
Living is Dying; Is there an Upside to Death?; Buddha Nature
Pages 11-14; e-book 15-19
Link to recording
Session 4 - Sunday April 10th 5.30-6.30pm (with guest speaker Ben Isbel)
Guest speaker Ben Isbel leads a discussion on mindfulness, and how this simple method can be used to uncover the one true possession we will take with us when we die – our mind.
Watch your Mind
Pages 15-16; e-book 19 - 22.
Link to recording
Session 5 - Sunday April 17th *5-5.45pm Easter Sunday (led by Jakob) *Note Time Change
Watch your Mind (last two paragraphs); The Certainty and Uncertainty of Death
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche reading Guru Rinpoche’s Advice to Yeshe Tsogyal 'The Refined Essence of Oral Instructions' (pre-recorded).
The session concludes with a meditation on ‘The Certainty of Death and Uncertainty of Time of Death’ with Ani Zangmo.
Pages 16-20; e-book 22-24
Link to recording
Ani Zangmo will be discussing the practicalities of preparing for death including why it is important to make your care wishes known, advanced care plans, the role of medical decision maker and organ donation with death doula Annie Whitlocke, Dr Rachael Buckley and Dr Diana Cousens.
Preparation for Death & Beyond; Face the Fact that you will Die; Live Life to the Full
Pages 21-23; e-book 25-27
Link to recording
Please note this is a stand-alone session with
How does a dementia death look like for a Buddhist practitioner?
Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyal and Dr Ben Isbel discuss dementia and end of life care for Buddhists based upon Elizabeth’s experience of caring for her mother, a long-term Buddhist practitioner who currently has dementia.
Session 7 - Sunday May 1st 5.30-6.30 (led by Jakob)
Chant OM MANI PADME HUM ; What is Bardo?; The Painful Bardo of Dying
Page 25-27, 71-72, e-book 29-30, 73-74
Link to recording
Session 8 - Sunday May 8th 5.30-6.30pm (with guest speaker Nila Norbu and Julie St Aubyn)
The importance of making a will. When do we need to appoint a Power of Attorney? What are ethical wills?
Shop Consciously and Make A Will; Distribute your Worldly Goods; Offer the Dead Person’s Belongings
Page 23-24, 54, 168; e-book 27-28, 58, 168
Session 9 - Sunday May 15th 5.30 - 6.30pm (led Jakob & Jangchub)
Jangchub will give an overview of what Refuge means to people who are dying.
Jakob explains the meaning of a Buddhist taking Refuge. Includes a simple Buddhist Refuge ceremony.
Take Refuge; How To Take Refuge Simply
Pages 28-33; e-book 31-37
Session 10 - Sunday May 22nd 5.30 - 6.30pm (led Jakob)
Includes Buddhist Bodhisattva Vow ceremony.
The Bodhisattva Vow; Taking the Bodhisattva Vow; Arousing Bodhicitta; Think Big
Pages 33-39; e-book 37-43
Jakob Leschly was born in Denmark. He took refuge with Ven. Kalu Rinpoche in 1974, and eventually became a student of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He lived in India and Nepal for several years and studied with other Tibetan masters such as Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, Pema Wangyal Rinpoche, Chagdud Rinpoche, and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Since the 1990s he has served as an instructor for Siddhartha's Intent, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s Dharma organisation. He currently lives in New South Wales, Australia.
Tsering Chodron lives in Northern New South Wales, Australia, and is an instructor with Siddhartha’s Intent. Tsering took refuge in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in 1976. During Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s first visit to Australia in 1984, she met Rinpoche and became his student. Tsering was involved with the establishment and administration of Rinpoche’s retreat centre in Australia, Vajradhara Gonpa, during which time she had the opportunity to receive teachings, do retreats and serve many renowned Tibetan Buddhist masters.
Tsering’s interest in Death and Dying was sparked by life experiences, the Buddhist teachings, and from attending workshops facilitated by her dharma friend Judy Arpana.
Jangchub has been a student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche for thirty plus years. During this time she has been actively involved with Vajradhara Gonpa and was requested by Rinpoche to become an instructor for Siddhartha’s Intent Australia at Vajradhara Gonpa in 1995.
Jangchub completed a three year retreat in France under Pema Wangyal Rinpoche in 2006. Subsequently she was one of the supervisors for the second three year retreat at Vajradhara Gonpa in the first and last year.
Jangchub’s main emphasis is in the area of Pastoral Care for Buddhist practitioners or people who are open to the spiritual values of the Buddha’s teachings, to assist them through the dying process.
Death has never been distant and it is such a great teacher. I have always been very curious about it. In my lived experience and jobs in hospitality, crisis youthwork, child protection and disability prior to becoming a nun, I would see the impact of death on people's lives. Buddhism gave me a new framework to make sense of this. I am acutely aware of the impact death has had on me and how important making friends with it is.
I was a late bloomer finding Buddhism at 34 and took ordination as a Buddhist nun in 2004. I have had the good fortune to study with Traleg Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and have been a student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche since 2009.
I completed 3 year retreat at Vajradhara Gonpa (2009-2012), I'm a Ngondro and Dharma gar instructor and I'm also involved with the online SI practice community.
I have a Bachelor of Social Science in Welfare studies, Diploma in Shiatsu and Oriental therapies and in 2014 I completed Buddhist spiritual care training (hosted by the Budhhist Council of Victoria (BCV) in conjunction with Spiritual Health Australia) and have a voluntary role as a Buddhist Chaplain through this program.
I have learnt the most through being fully present with people, families and animals at end of life not through any theory or study.
I live in Badger Creek in Victoria, Australia with Ruben rascal dog and a sweet aging cat called Tashi. I support myself doing Somatic Shiatsu bodywork and Movement and meditation classes.
Julie St Aubyn
Julie St Aubyn studied Visual Art at the DDIAE in Toowoomba, attaining a Diploma of Arts. With her young family she moved to Northern New South Wales. There she lived in the bush, raised four children and taught Art in local schools. Her work has been represented in exhibitions and group shows since 1983.
Julie’s interest in the human spirit and her intrigue of death led her into working in the field of palliative care. Coordinating “The Caring Circle”, a community based support service, clients with end stage illness and their carers were supported through all stages of their illness.
Julie has studied herbalism, working as an assistant in a herbal apothecary and has been a lifelong student of homeopathy. Julie volunteered regularly at Vajradhara Gonpa, and was the medical support person for the two 3year retreats.
After moving to live in a riverside town on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Julie trained, and then worked as a funeral director.
Through the years Julie has continued to develop her Art practice, her creative journey through life being influenced by the themes of impermanence and death and enhanced by her Buddhist practice and by the Buddhist teachings.
Kirsten’s first encounter with death was when she attended one of her first shifts as a nursing student in 1999. An elderly woman ended up dying in her arms due to a sudden physical event and instead of being fearful of this experience, Kirsten became fascinated with the process of dying and began to ask herself ‘What happens to someone after they die?’. It was always clear to Kirsten that the essence of the person doesn’t just disappear into ‘nothing’. Although there a many theories and belief systems out there to explain this, Kirsten found that the Buddhist reasoning and logic of mind is the most detailed and profound explanation she has encountered. These Buddhist teachings on death and dying have been a source of great strength in her work as a Palliative Care Nurse but also an inspiration for Kirsten to train and guard her own mind.
Kirsten has been a palliative care nurse working in hospice settings for over 15 years. She is currently working at a Buddhist Hospice Service at the Sunshine Coast. In her role as a Registered Nurse, Kirsten supports people with a terminal illness and their families to facilitate end of life care in their own home and provides education and support for those caring for the dying loved ones. Kirsten is also a professional Astrologer working at Pramana Wellbeing at the Sunshine Coast.
Kirsten’s first encounter with Buddhism was in 2013 when she went to India and met Karma Lhundup Rinpoche. She then went on to take refuge in 2014 with Khensur Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering back in Australia. Kirsten has followed Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s teachings for many years, but it wasn’t until she met Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche at Shechen Monastery in Nepal in 2019 that she decided to become a Ngondro Gar practitioner.
Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel has studied and practiced the Buddhadharma for over 35 years under the guidance of her teacher Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is the retreat master of Samten Ling in Crestone, Colorado and has spent over six years in retreat. She holds a degree in both anthropology and Buddhist Studies. She has published two books: “The Power of An Open Question” and “The Logic of Faith.”
Elizabeth is fascinated with the Buddha’s essential teachings on the natural principle of pratityasamutpada, or interdependence, and how this insight serves as the doorway to understanding the teachings on the middle way. These teachings—often referred to as the wisdom aspect in Mahayana Buddhism—elucidate the essence or view that reside at the heart of the entire path. Due to the subtlety of their meaning and the cryptic nature of traditional texts, the middle way teachings are often either misunderstood or overlooked completely.
During many decades of studying these teachings with Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Elizabeth found herself probing for language to further explain them to herself. This process of contemplation and discovery brought the middle way teachings to life for her. Now she shares her inquiry with others using fresh, contemporary language that doesn’t water down their authentic message or transformative power.
Elizabeth’s longing to engage with others and share this process set the Middle Way Initiative in motion. https://www.middlewayinitiative.org/
Ben Isbel is a mindfulness teacher with over 25 years’ experience spanning both traditional Buddhist meditation techniques and contemporary psychological approaches to mindfulness. Ben has studied in both the Theravadin and Mahayana Buddhist traditions and holds a B. of Psychology (Honours) and a PhD in Psychology.
Until recently Ben was the Research Program Coordinator at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Healthy Brain Ageing Clinic where he investigated the use of mindfulness to prevent the development of age-related cognitive decline and dementia in older adults. As a neuroscientist and contemplative researcher, Ben has developed a comprehensive cognitive model of mindfulness and has used advanced EEG techniques to show how mindfulness training can improve cognition and mood in older adults while at the same time transforming the ageing brain.
Ben is currently offering mindfulness training at Pramana Wellbeing in Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
I am a qualified relaxation and mindfulness teacher, funeral celebrant, advanced care directive facilitator, palliative liaison coordinator with the Buddhist council of Victoria and CPE Buddhist chaplain.
The reason and purpose of what I do is to normalise dying and death in whatever form that may take. And to empower people that they have agency over many things.
I am a Buddhist practitioner of 40 years and share my space with a Buddhist monk and 5 severely disabled, wonderful dogs.
Dr Rachael Buckley
I am specialist GP and have worked widely with marginalized communities in various settings underpinned by a Harm Reduction approach. Buddhism has informed my medical practice most importantly through the recognition that, upon encountering the other, a subtle consciousness of wavering fear arises leading to a sense of separation. I try to gain insight into the lives and beliefs of clients when offering treatment as well as facilitate connection, trust and confidence in healing.
After graduation I worked with inner city Sydney communities, including injecting and other drug users, exposed to HIV at a time when therapeutic treatment was inadequate and many died with AIDS. Being able to support clients and their loved ones during the death process became a pivotal part of my practice. My commitment to this has continued in various settings, notably within Tibetan refugee settlements in India where most die at home cared for by family and community.
I am currently working with the homeless population in inner city Sydney with an aspiration to improve palliative care and communication for the dying within this community.
I describe myself as a ‘rabid Buddhist’ and a long-term disciple of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche although, despite my aspirations, others may call me a Scapegrace.
Dr Diana Cousens
Dr Diana Cousens has a PhD in Himalayan Studies from Monash University (2008). She is the Vice-Chair of the Buddhist Council of Victoria and a long standing student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. She is the Australian representative for the 84000 Project and publishes on the Tibetan treasure tradition and engaged Buddhism. Her publication, ‘Buddhist Care for the Dying’ (2004), is a standard text used in Buddhist chaplaincy in the health care sector. She was the Foundation President of Sakyadhita Australia (2016).
Nila Norbu is originally from Brisbane but spent lots of time in Bhutan, Taiwan and India whilst growing up. She has been blessed to know Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche since birth and has been learning about the Buddha for as long as she can remember.
Nila studied a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Medical Science at the Australian National University in Canberra. She now lives in Sydney and is a lawyer at a large global law firm. Whilst these days Nila is often occupied with corporate and commercial matters at work, Nila’s passion lies in social justice. During her time at University Nila worked at the Women’s Legal Centre ACT and volunteered for the Kimberley Community Legal Service, even getting the opportunity to spend some time on Miriwoong country (East Kimberley, WA) doing paralegal work and completing part of her honours thesis.
Nila was the Australia & New Zealand Coordinator of Rinpoche’s ‘Bhumisparsha: Touching the Earth’ project as well as its Head of Social Media and Content when it launched in 2020.
For Nila, her strong foundation in the dharma is what has guided her and continues to guide her in all aspects of her life, especially her work. Treating people with kindness, fairness and compassion in all aspects of life is crucial to Nila.