Powa Practice



Powa is used not only to help us at the moment of our death but also to benefit others who are dying or who have died recently. There are many powa practices but the one that we are going to perform is the powa of Avalokisteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion. “Our ability to use powa to help those who have recently died will depend upon the strength of our compassion, and sincere reliance upon Avalokiteshvara is a powerful cause of developing compassion. If we have powerful compassion for all living beings we can definitely help them. Furthermore, extending our compassion to include all living beings is a powerful method for purifying our mind, and if our mind is pure we shall attain the Pure Land of a Buddha.” (–Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully by Venerable Kelsang Gyatso.)

Powa, or ‘transference of consciousness’ is a method by which accomplished meditators transfer their consciousness to a higher rebirth. As explained by the Venerable Kelsang Gyatso, “At the time of death our mind naturally leaves the body but generally cannot choose its next rebirth. Experienced practitioners of powa, however, can choose their next rebirth and direct their consciousness to a higher state at the time of death.”

“Buddha (also) taught powa for those who have not entered the path for liberation, or for those who have accumulated many non-virtuous actions. By practicing powa sincerely they can avoid rebirth in the lower realms and transfer their consciousness to the Pure Land of a Buddha; and this is true even for those who formerly led an evil or reckless life.”

“In a Buddha’s Pure Land everything is pure; there are no sufferings, no contaminated environments, and no impure enjoyments. Beings born there are free from sickness, ageing, poverty, war, harm from fire, water, earth and wind, and so forth. They have the ability to control their death and rebirth, and they experience physical and mental suppleness throughout their life. Just being there naturally gives rise to a  deep experience of bliss. Moreover, everyone living in a Pure Land has the opportunity to receive teachings and blessings directly from the Buddha of that Pure Land.”

excerpts from Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully by Venerable Kelsang Gyatso.