The Dudjom Tersar Ngondro includes a very abbreviated form of p’howa, transference of consciousness into the pure-land.

By visualizing the Buddha Amitabha above our head, we train ourselves to direct our consciousness toward Dewachan, his pure-land of great bliss, when we die.

Even if we are not able to fully accomplish this level of transference at the moment of death – perhaps because we die suddenly amid great chaos – this training equips us with the means to find liberation in the bardos after death, or at least an auspicious rebirth.

This is assured for two reasons.

First, exiting of the consciousness from the crown chakra leads to a higher rebirth than does its exiting from one of the lower orifices.

Second, Amitabha’s enlightened intention establishes that all those who pray to him with faith and who longingly direct their mind toward him will find rebirth in his pure-land.

At the moment of death, the consciousness can move upward along the avenue we have prepared by visualizing Amitabha over our head. This provides a shortcut out of samsaric suffering.

Having attained the pure-land, we can remain until enlightenment, receiving the dharma transmissions that finally clear residual obscurations, or we can choose to come back and continue our spiritual development in this realm.

In either case we gain great ability to benefit beings. This p’howa training, like the practices that precede it in the ngondro, can be undertaken as an aspect of guru yoga if we understand that our lama is inseparable from Amitabha.

We need take only a small step beyond the recognition of the lama as inseparable from Guru Rinpoche, because Guru Rinpoche is the nirmanakaya emanation of Amitabha.

Another way to fathom the meaning of our lama’s inseparability from Amitabha is to ask, “Who will I rely on when I die? Who really has the power to support me in that moment?”

Most of us would turn to our lama, knowing that his or her power and blessing surpass any ordinary kindness or help a doctor or a loved one could offer us.

Our lama’s ability to extend help in life-threatening situations and the transitions of death, the bardo of becoming, and rebirth stems from his or her realization of buddha nature, no different from Guru Rinpoche’s or Amitabha’s. This power supports us even when the lama is not directly present. …

Distance, even death, does not separate us from our lama. Only our own wavering faith and obscurations come between us. If by prayer and meditation in this lifetime we can overcome these obstacles, in death we can find ultimate unity with the absolute lama.

Source: Based on Tromge, Jane. Ngondro Commentary: Instructions for the Concise Preliminary Practices. Padma Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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