How using the Dharma to help sick, dying, dead ones
I am often asked the question: "How can Dharma help sick, dying or already dead ones?"
To provide such assistance, you must remember that the root cause of all diseases is in a delusion sphere of consciousness. So first of all, sick or dying person consciousness should be freed from 'Three poisons': passion (affection, desire to own), anger (irritation, disgust) and stupidity. Sick or dying one should personally exert some effort for this. It is because even the Buddha can't save anyone who doesn't make any effort to rescue. If this is an ordinary man who has taken refuge in the Three Jewels, but who does not take deep initiations and meditation experience, then the best thing is to contemplate Buddha's image, trying to see his enlightenment qualities, such as Love, Compassion, Purity, Serene Bliss, All-pervading Wisdom. Doing that attention should be focused on the quality which is the most inspiring for him/her. To ease the contemplation, he/she can hang inspiring Buddha thanka, put his statue or other His image.
There is no need to sit in any special position, it is also permissible to lie with your feet to image also, which is considered disrespectful in usual circumstances. The main thing is to fill the consciousness with great reverence, in such, as it is written in the texts, "hair on your body stands on, and tears of inextinguishable desire flowed from your eyes". It matters little how well you can imagine the Enlightened One in your mind: it will be enough, if you see just his eyes full of love for you and the eyes that fill you with joy and blissful serenity. Imagine a soft golden light, the essence of which - enlightened qualities indicated above, is pouring from the body of the Enlightened One (or only from his eyes, if you see only them). Feel the light, which is filling your body, making it clean, luminous, blessed and healthy at. Illness and suffering are dissolving in it, melting and disappearing like mist upon the sun. You can do it silently or you can recite the mantra: "Om Namo Bhagavate Tathagata Arhat Samyaksambuddhaya!" -"I resort to the protection of the All-good Tathagata Holy Fully Enlightened One!". This mantra is mantra of past, present, and future Enlightened Ones; or "Om Muni Muni Mahamuni Shakyamuni Soha!", which is the mantra of Buddha Sakyamuni; or "Om-ma-ni-pad-ma-hum!" - The Mantra of Compassionate Bodhisattva - Avalokitesvara. Otherwise feel a special connection with the Great Teacher Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche, in this case you can read His mantra: "Om-A-Hum! Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum! ", or it could be any of Yidams who are close to your heart, which are symbols of the enlightened aspects of consciousness - in this case, you can read their mantras. An essence is not in a form, but in a spiritual immersion depth. You can also combine your meditation with breathing: breathing absorbs the light in, and as you exhale, exhale disease and suffering in the form of black smoke or fog from every pore of your body. Sick or dying one should perform practice this way. If you want to help your suffering close people, then do the same practice for them, but during the contemplation flow of light and grace direct not to yourself, but to themselves, also imagining, as illness and suffering going from their bodies.
This practice, simple at first glance, has a great power - personally I was repeatedly witness, when ordinary people with the help of it killed such serious illnesses as diabetes, cancer and stroke. Even if a person dies, then due to holding this practice at the moment of death he/she is embodied in pure worlds of the Buddha and closes lower, oppressive worlds for himself/herself.
At with the implementation of this practice is highly desirable to do good materially at the level of the body. What does it mean? Give and fulfill surely the promise to make something good for the benefit of a sick, dying or dead person connected with the Three Jewels: for example, commit 1000, 10000 or 108000 prostrations, make a pilgrimage to Buddhist holy sights, translate or make copies of sutras, to make a statue of Buddha, to build a stupa or a temple, or at least - to make certain food, clothing offerings, incense for the altar, decorations for the altar or the temple or gift money for all these to the monastic community. These actions will create good karma for a person close to you, which in its turn, will neutralize the adverse results of karma.
If you want to make good for already dead person, then to facilitate the visualization of his image, you can put in front of you a photograph of his/her and put his/her favorite things. It is not allowed to weep and wail over a dying or dead one, because it can lead to its embodiment in the world of hungry ghosts. On the contrary, one should recall him/her with joy and love. That is why in all the ancient rites of remembrance of the dead one is taken to think about good deeds and qualities of the dead one and have fun in his/her honor, imagining that dead person funs with you. These contemplations and commemorations should be made not only after death (the most important -it is to make them continuously during first 49 days or at least first 3 days after his/her death), but annually on the day of his/her death. It does not matter that by this time the consciousness of dead one has gained a new sphere of existence: if the sphere isn't good, your contemplation, pray and good deeds will allow him/her to be free from suffering, and if the sphere is good, you will increase his/her benefits in a new incarnation.
People often request our temple to do a contemplation in a benefit of the sick ones, and in commemoration of the dead ones. In this case we ask them to send a photograph of the person, any small beloving thing, and if it comes to alive person, a few hairs from his/her head to consolidate connection. It is also very desirable to make some offerings to a monastic sangha. Traditionally it is a food, robes or cloth offering for monks, incense, flowers and lamps, but nowadays, not everybody has an opportunity to do this personally (because of the absence of any nearby monastery), so in this case it is allowable to gift money. It is very important that offerings were "clean", were not received in a adverse way: through violence, theft, debauchery, fraud, intoxicating trading (besides alcohol drugs and tobacco are also in this range), otherwise not good karma became even worse.
Another important point, both in healing and in preparing to death - is a sincere repentance in all adverse acts, especially Three Jewels and Dharma teacher disrespect, and in violation of the Five Precepts (not to kill, to take not a given one, not to commit adultery, not to lie, not to consume intoxicating). The best way is to make a confession to your Teacher, but if this is impossible, then to any ordained person, and if this is also impossible, to Buddha's appearance presenting him mentally and reverently to you in all its glory, wisdom and compassion. Never assume that your misconduct is so heavy that they can not be treated with sincere repentance. Even Angulimala who had killed 999 people, were not only cleared of the not good karma, by believing in the Three Jewels and repent, but he found the result of holiness-arhatship. Everything depends on the depth of your repentance and reverence to the Buddha.
Although there are formal rituals of repentance to make it in your own words is the best way, but with all your heart - it is most effective repentance. Remember - you can fool everyone, but not your karma, so be as sincere as you can!