In the book Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron describes the slogans called “The Five Strengths” or “The Condensed Heart Instructions” or “The Mahayana instruction for ejection of consciousness at death.” That last name sounds a little grim, yet it also sums up the seriousness.
The basic message: we can connect with our happiness at any time. We just need to be more gentle with ourselves and others.
These are the five instructions on how to live and how to die:
Determination – Open your heart at every opportunity. When you get stuck or surprised, make the choice to be open instead of letting yourself close up or close off.
Familiarization – Everything is a lesson. Don’t cheat yourself of the teaching that is right there for you.
Seed of Virtue – There’s nowhere else to search for happiness and peace; the seeds are already with you.
Reproach – Support yourself with loving-kindness and without blame. Remind yourself each time to choose opening to life instead of closing off with blame.
Aspiration – Asking yourself to increase your compassion.
These five little instructions on how to live and how to die sound pretty simple. The real question is about when to follow them: at the moment we die, or now, the moment we’re alive.