The Great Liberation upon Hearing: The
Signs and Omens of Death†† Tibetan: Zab
chos zhi khro dgongs pa rang grol las
thos grol chen mo‚i skor: őChi ltas
mtshan ma rang grol††† Paro, Bhutan,
1976. I(Bhu)-Tib-82; 76-905033. [folios
According to the literature associated with Karma Lingpa's Great Liberation upon Hearing, death occurs as a result of one of three causes: reaching the end of one's lifespan, exhausting one's meritorious energy, or meeting with an untimely event, such as a sudden accident. Each of these three causes has its own specific antidote, which means that in many cases death can be avoided by applying the appropriate method. Before applying such an antidote, however, it is necessary to know precisely when the death will occur. Knowledge of this sort requires skill in reading the signs indicating that death is near. The small work entitled The Signs and Omens of Death is used for this very purpose. The text describes the variety of death omens in extensive detail, organizing them into three categories: external, internal, and secret signs. The external omens are read by observing the condition of the body; the internal signs, by observing the breath and the individual's dreams; and the secret signs, by examining his or her bodily (and especially sexual) fluids. To gain some idea of the nature of these often peculiar signs, we should mention just a few examples. According to Karma Lingpa, if the discharge from a person's genitals is blackish or reversed, that is if blood comes from a man and semen from a woman, death will occur in one month. If a person presses a finger against his or her eye and does not see light, cups his or her hand over the ears and does not hear a 'whirring' sound, or holds his or her arms out in front and they seem to disappear, these are all signs that the individual will die in less than four weeks. Other such signs include suddenly encountering creatures with terrifying forms, experiencing bodily shivers, seeing stars during the day and sunlight at night, or seeing red flowers while riding backwards on a donkey in one's dreams.