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The list below was compiled by TLC's Director to assist with gathering needed items for the end-of-life transition. Primarily, the contents of this box are intended for Vajrayana Buddhist support but can be used by anyone. TLC recommends that we each acquire a container (a large, plastic storage box will suffice) and fill it with needed items, and store it in a place that is known to our loved ones and accessible. The asterisked * items below are essential, and all are suggested.


A Concise List of Needed Items and Substances for End of Life Preparation:

  • The phone number of one's Lama or spiritual guide

  • The phone number of a qualified teacher or person to perform p'howa 

  • List of phone #s of those who can assist during the dying process

  • Resource List for family & caregivers: books/CDs/films for support)


*Suggested Documents (if they apply):

  • Will (itemized) and/or Living Trust

  • POLST form filled out and signed by MD (if legal in your state)

  • Health care proxy (durable health power-of-attorney)

  • Living Will (Healthcare Directive) - OR -

  • Advanced Directive w/appointed executor(s) and their contact information - OR -

  • Five Wishes Document (if legal in your state)

  • Spiritual Directive - a list of requests for various types of spiritual assistance for before, during, and after death

  • Authorization to release healthcare information

  • Copy of Insurance card (Medicare, Medicaid, Independent)

  • Long-term care insurance policy

  • Notarized Document: describing requested care of the body

  • Legacy Letter

  • List of all bank accts., numbers, and investments, along with all user names/passwords

  • List of email and website addresses, user names, and passwords, including phone (& text)

  • Social Security #

  • List of your full name birthdate, city, state, country, citizenship / parents’ names, birthdates & places

  • All documentation for pets and names/contact info for those who can care for them after you are gone.


Spiritual Documents and Suggestions

  • *Instructions for the Transitional State (TLC's end of life manual - to assist family & caregivers)

  • *A list of names with phone numbers of those to call: Lama / family / caregivers / close friends / pre-arranged helpers

  • *Information about cremation arrangements (phone number of funeral home or crematorium & paperwork)

  • *Instructions for any desired last requests – pujas, prayers, etc.

  • *Instructions for ashes to be included in a Neydren Ritual – (TLC suggested centers:Tashi Choling or Vajrayana Foundation)

  • Donations can be set aside for offerings (butter lamps, tsog, candle lighting / general donations to temples, lamas and/or the ordained)

For During the Dying Process

  • Takdrol mandala – tape to one's heart center or on the crown of the head with the image facing the skin – apply before death, if possible.


  • Large while sheet or piece of cloth to shroud the body after bathing

  • Ice packs (Several 10# bags of cube ice, double-bagged)

  • Plastic mattress cover

  • White katag(s) (Tibetan silk scarf)

  • Spiritual Supports

    • Photo(s) of one’s Spiritual Teacher(s)

    • Image of one's yidam, practice deity, or mandala

    • Sur Kit & text - for practice especially during the 49 days following death (available from Tibetan Treasures)

      • Three Whites & Three Sweets/powdered (to offer/burn with sur practice)

      • 1 set of tingshas

      • Long-handled lighter

      • Charcoal (small size meant for burning incense)

      • Small container for burning

Prayers and Dharma Texts (This is not a comprehensive list and alternative practices and texts can be used.)


  • Text: *Vajrasattva text: Vajrasattva Meditation Ritual, Ritual to Guide the Dead, and Additional Prayers, by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche (online from Vajrayana Foundation - Text: Bardo Prayers (from Tibetan Book of the Dead or other texts)

  • Text: Amitabha Concise Monlam or Amitabha Daily Practice

  • Text: Cho Ying Rinpoche Dzod – The Precious Treasury of the Basic Space of Phenomena by Longchen Rabjam; translated by Richard Barron, Chagdud Gompa Publications

  • CD/DVD: Cho Ying Dzod; chanted (in Tibetan) by Lama Tharchin Rinpoche / available from

  • CD loop recording of Vajrasattva’s 100-Syllable Mantra (chanted)

  • Tibetan/English rendition of 100-Syllable Mantra (to read or chant)

  • Tibetan/English rendition of Vajra Guru Mantra (OM AH HUNG BENZAR GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUNG)

  • Copper Colored Mountain prayer

  • Kunzang Monlam (The Great Perfection Prayer of Kuntuzangpo)

  • Bardo Monlam (The Bardo Aspiration Prayer) by Pema Lingpa


Cremation Substances – For Traditional Vajrayana Buddhist Fire Puja

Whether you choose to be present as a witness, or prefer to have substances added to the cremation by someone else, these are traditional and identical to those used in a “peaceful” fire puja. They are to be arranged over the body in the “casket” preceding the cremation, starting from the feet and moving up to the head. Small amounts are acceptable, but abundance is emphasized. Utilize any of these listed below. Those who are present may all participate in spreading these substances over the body of the deceased.


The Main Ingredients (small, 2 - 4 cup amounts of grains and beans)

  • Vajrasattva mandala (for beneath the body)

  • white sesame seeds (main ingredient)

  • white rice

  • white beans - any round, white bean (ex: garbanzo)

  • thick shell barley (not polished)

  • wheat

  • incense

  • herbal medicine including dudtsi (known as "mendrup" or Tibetan spiritual medicine - acquire from a lama.)

  • jewels & precious metals – no brass, tin, or bronze (considered poisonous) katags (multiple)

Additional Substances to offer if available

  • photos of lamas and deities / personal items, mala, etc. (no metal)

  • incenses: camphor, musk, white & red sandlewood, cedar, juniper, Nagi incense, gugul (sweet white) yamshig (wood from apple/plum tree)

  • white katags

  • butter (used as an oil)

  • black sesame seeds

  • 3 whites: milk, butter & yogurt

  • 3 sweets: honey, sugar, molasses (or substitute both whites and sweets w/cookies and tsampa)

  • crab grass roots (durwa - long roots and stems for long life)

  • kusha or pampas grass

  • betelnut

  • white flowers

  • fruit – whole; white or light colored, such as green grapes

  • white silk cloth

  • white mustard seeds

  • white flowers / roses


Following Cremation


If you wish to collect bone fragments for a Neydren ritual, ask the mortician to keep the oven on the lowest setting and that it be turned off before the bones are all incinerated. 



Sa-tsas can be made (to contain the ashes) during a traditional Vajrayana Buddhist neydren ceremony, or at a later date. After they are consecrated, these can be placed in bodies of water, including the ocean, lakes, and rivers. Do not place a sa-tsa containing ashes on a shrine or altar; they are intended to dissolve into the elements.

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