Sutra Text from Last Issue: With flight and ascension, one will not sink, but will naturally become transcendent.
“Ananda, all beings in the world are caught up in the continuity of birth and death. Birth happens because of their habitual tendencies; death comes through flow and change. When they are on the verge of death, but when the final warmth has not left their bodies, all the good and evil they have done in that life suddenly and simultaneously manifest. They experience the intermingling of two habits: an abhorrence of death and an attraction to life.
The Buddha calls again, "Ananda, do you know that all beings in the world are caught up in the continuity of birth and death?" They get born and die, die and get reborn, again and again in a never-ending cycle. They spin on the wheel of the six paths of rebirth. Birth happens because of their habitual tendencies. Birth is something living beings want. They tend toward it. Death comes through flow and change. When they die, they follow their karmic retribution to turn again in rebirth. According to the kind of karma they have created, they will revolve on the wheel.
When they are on the verge of dying, but when the final warmth has not left their bodies, all the good and evil they have done in that life suddenly and simultaneously manifest. "The final warmth has not left their bodies" means that the six consciousnesses and the seventh consciousness have passed out of the body, but the eighth consciousness still remains. Its passage will be marked by warmth. That is, the place on the body where the eighth consciousness leaves will be warm to the touch. For instance, if the eighth consciousness leaves through the soles of the feet, the soles will be warm. If it leaves from the legs, the legs will be warm. If it departs from the waist, the waist will be warm. If it goes out the top of the head, the top of the head will be warm. This warm feeling is called the "final warmth"
This “final warmth” is a phenomenon when the eighth consciousness leaves the body, Before the eighth consciousness goes, it is referred to as the "present skandha body." Once it leaves the body it is the body between the skandhas, or "intermediate skandha body." So the text here refers to the present skandha body, before it has left the physical body. If one cultivates well, the skandha body is a Buddha. If one does not cultivate, it is a ghost. So when people ask, "Are there really ghosts?" they must first ask themselves if there are Buddhas. If they know there are Buddhas, then of course there are ghosts as well. If you are not sure that there are Buddhas or ghosts, ask yourself if there are people. If you acknowledge the fact that there are people, then you will know that there are also Buddhas and ghosts, because they are all different aspects of the same thing. After one dies then, the eighth consciousness is called the intermediate skandha body. Before one dies it is called the present skandha body. It is also known as the "soul" and as the "Buddha nature."
When a person is on the verge of death, the good and evil he or she has done is revealed and a reckoning is at hand. Depending on what one did, one will have to undergo retribution or reward. If one did good, one can get reborn in the heavens; if one did evil, one falls into the hells. If you did more in the way of good deeds and meritorious acts, then the eighth consciousness can leave from your head. If you did more in the way of committing crimes and creating offenses, then it'll leave from your feet. Obviously then, to leave from the upper part of one's body means one will gain a higher rebirth, whereas to leave from the lower part means one is going to fall. One's kind of rebirth is evident at death. They experience the intermingling of two habits: an abhorrence of death and an attraction to life. They are repelled and attracted when confronted with death and birth.
To be continued