The Bardo Thodol – Bon Voyage
"What is Durga, that is Vishnu and that also is Siva The wise know that they are not different from one another The fool who thinks otherwise Goes to the Rahrava Hell" Varaha Purana
As I get older I find myself having to read the "Tibetan Book of the Dead" more often, for friends, relatives and even pets. One thing that bothers me when doing this is that much of the imagery and terminology relates to Buddhism and will not be familiar to those who have not grown up in that tradition.
The Bar-do thos-grol (Anglicised as Bardol Thodol) of "Texts for Self Liberation Through Hearing, During the Intermediate Period that Follows Death" have origins back in the oral transmission of the Shamanistic tradition of Tibet called Bonpo. Those dialects would be equally alien to Westerners. The first attempts to set these principles down in writing arose in the era of unreformed Buddhism and took the form of the "Tantra of the Great Secret Union of the Sun and the Moon", which later evolved into "The Doctrine of the Six Lights" before reaching an approximation of its present form. Essentially all of the texts deal with approaching signs of death and the dissolution of the mandala of the elements that have built the physical body, and the Realisation of the Primary Clear Light into which the elements are resolved. Obviously if awareness of these elements has been built up during a lifetime when constructing a zonule for meditation and magick they will mean more to the post mortem consciousness of a dead person.
H.H.Dalai Lama has already addressed the problem of secularising the imagery to be expected in the after-death state in the book "Advice on Dying", but as yet this has not been adapted into the secular book to be read to the deceased. Apart from the universal relevance of such a work, we can note a special relevance to the Uttara Kaula tradition of India when we realise that the Zhang-Zhung Kingdom that existed before the Eighth Century C.E. included parts of Tibet and also part of Kashmir in the West, and Kashmir is the Uttara Pitha: the Northern place where in legend part of Lord Siva’s spouse, Shakti, came to earth in India.
This also helps to explain why the Uttara Tantrik Tradition blended so well with Tibetan thought in the An uttara tradition of Highest Yoga Tantra and Dzogchen meditation.
The Bardo Thodol deals with three bardos or levels of consciousness experienced after death and the fourth Bardo, the Rang bzhin Bardo, is that of Samsara in the world from birth to death. This is sometimes further sub-divided into three life bardos. Once death begins, we are in the Chikai Bardo and the spiritual elements begin to build a new mandala of deities who can help grant Enlightenment. Awareness of this begins three and a half days after physical death has occurred and the physical elements have ceased to function. If Enlightenment does not take place or if one chooses to follow the path of reincarnation the spirit begins to build an illusory body in the Chos Nyid Bardo of the Intermediate State and this body can move freely in the realms of gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and demons, and future directions are decided by Karma, and level of spiritual practice. The Srid pa Bardo is the final state when the future life is decided and karmic choice of parents and physical realm are determined.
If anyone can remember past lives and bardo consciousness, it is H.H.Dalai Lama. Both he and the "Tantra of the Great Secret Union of the Sun and the Moon" go to great length to describe the signs of approaching death, other than the immediate kind brought about by physical accident, and how the elements of the body collapse: earth into water, as the body loses weight: water into fire, as urine, blood, sexual fluids and phlegm dry up and the throat becomes dry; Fire into Air, as breathing becomes difficult and the body loses heat, via the head (bad karma) or feet (good karma) first becoming cold; and Air into ether, as the tongue becomes blue, the sense of touch is lost and breathing gives way to only the machinations of the ‘internal winds’, and the white (head), Clear Light can be experienced as space-like consciousness. At this time, physical death is usually considered to have occurred, but the elements continue to shut down internally. The deceased experience visions like a Mirage as Earth turns to Water; of Smoke as Water turns into Fire; of ‘fireflies’ as Fire turns into Air; of flickering light as air turns into pure consciousness which then experiences a vivid white ‘sky’ symbolised by the Moon; a vivid orange ‘sky’ symbolised by the Sun; vivid black of a Moon, Sun and Starless ‘Sky’ and finally Primary Clear Light that absorbs all.
It will be noted that the first four elements shut down widdershins or anti-clockwise to the order of the mandala zonule of meditation. I personally build this with white Siva/Buddha and yellow Shakti in the East; Pale Blue Siva/Buddha and dark blue Shakti in the West; and Green Siva/Pan/Buddha with brown Shakti in the North. White Ganesh and Dati Mata preside over the Cthonic realms of growth below. I then assume the Siva godform with the mantra "Sivoham" and invoke ‘Hrim Lalita’ of the Sky realm. I feel this is the natural sequence in England. They will vary in other parts of the world, as they do slightly in the Tibetan sequence, but the Tibetan Lights can be seen as background to the deities. Not only the mandala of the Chikhai deities but also the building of the illusory body of Intermediate State of the Chos nyid Bardo is formed from ‘Sky’, Sun, Moon and elements in doesil or clockwise fashion, but dissolved widdershins again before conception and finally built doesil physically in the womb. Accidental death will cause a rapid shut down of elements and direct thrust into Chikhai Bardo and is obviously not so easy to prepare for.
Given these guiding principles, it is then possible to create a "Book for Self Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate Period that Follows Death", which is secular, or universal, rather than relevant to only one religious system. The whole process is symbolised as being 49 days between Death and Birth, but there is no Earth Time in the bardos and Karmic forces will cause the time, in Earth Time, to vary.
Dr Timothy Leary was, in the Sixties, quick to spot that the after death Bardos could be experienced as states of consciousness in high doze sessions of L.S.D. experience, and these could equally be guided by reading from a text which he has based on the ‘Bardo Thodol’ and entitled "The Psychedelic Experience". Instead of reincarnation, the rebirth is the re-programming of the personality here. For this pioneering work, Dr. Leary deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, but instead the rest of his life became a struggle with forces of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pearls before Swine!
I have tried to use as little religious terminology as possible and the ones I have used have passed into common usage since the 1960’s. Mandalas are multi symmetrical patterns, to be found in various traditions, and Carl Jung adopted the format as being foremost in the symbols of the Collective Unconscious in his psychological theorising. Karma, even hit the top ten with John Lennon, and is the law of cause and effect in our actions. Dakinis are spirits of the air, usually female, and some traditions might be tempted to equate them with angels.
Yin and Yang are the Chinese names for the polarities of phenomenal existence that find the balance and resolution in the Tao. A Bodhisattva is the name that Buddhists give to someone who enters the Light but who returns to the world to help others along the path. It is my experience that this is possible while living. We can presume this is not only possible in the Bardo of life but also in the death bardos, although the Bardo Thodol presents Enlightenment and reincarnation as alternatives.
On Mane Padme Hum: The Jewel is in the Lotus.
The Bardo Thodol asserts that Memory is nine times stronger in the after death Bardos, and that reading its text is beneficial even when alive. And even if they are not fully understood, they will be useful in the after death states. When read to the dead, it is best done by the deceased’s guru, or next best by a learned person aware of the meaning of the teachings. Failing this, they can be read by anyone who reads clearly and distinctly. If the body has been buried or cremated, they are best read from a deceased’s favourite chair, environ, or with favourite objects of the deceased nearby. There should also be no weeping or other distracting sounds as the Spirit is summoned for the reading. "The Tantra of the Great Secret Union of the Sun and Moon" goes into great detail as to the signs of death. If these signs are complete and, in the unlikely event in this day and age, that the body is still present, the reading takes place close to the head. Incense and spring water should be used to encircle the body. Then the readings are made three or seven times on each of the forty-nine ‘days’ of the bardos. The first reading can begin once the heart has stopped and the lungs have ceased to function, but is said that the spirit is unaware of the bodily death for three and a half days and the forty-nine days are counted after this time. The forty-nine days are symbolic of seven times seven traditional planets. There is no ‘time’ in the bardo. The ‘days’ set the course for the after death period before rebirth.
Chikhai Bardo Call the name of the deceased.
"You may have heard words like these before But may not yet recognise death You may recognise death but not understand it Know that if you concentrate on the words You will perceive the Primary Clear Light And could achieve freedom from other existences Which form the Bardo Planes If it is combined with good karma and earnest search for Truth" May the compassionate forces of Bardo Know that………is passing from worldly existence Into the next And bring help and Enlightenment 1 As death has come And they fall deeper into the void Surrounded by Karmic forces Bring strength against anxiety and fear As the security of the worldly life fades And they must go alone May they be spared a long and painful Bardo May they achieve Enlightenment 2 Enlightened Ones, Fathers of the Way and Divine Mothers Gurus, Gods, Spirits and those who have gone before Help to lead us along the Way When we stray from the path of Enlightenment Fathers of knowledge inspire and strengthen us Divine Mothers comfort and sustain us May we be spared a long and painful Bardo May we achieve Enlightenment 3 May the Teacher of mirror like wisdom Inspire and strengthen us May his wise mother Comfort and sustain us May we be spared a long and painful Bardo May we achieve Enlightenment 4 May the Teacher of Generosity Inspire and strengthen us May his All-embracing Mother Comfort and sustain us May we be spared a long and painful Bardo May we achieve Enlightenment 5 May the Teacher of Meditation Inspire and strengthen us May his Divine Mother Comfort and sustain us May we be spared a long and painful Bardo May we achieve Enlightenment 6 May the Teacher of Fearlessness Inspire and strengthen us May his Divine Mother Comfort and sustain us May we be spared a long and painful Bardo May we achieve Enlightenment 7 May the Teacher of Universal Consciousness Inspire and strengthen us May his All-seeing Divine Mother Comfort and sustain us May we be spared a long and painful Bardo May we achieve Enlightenment 8 May the Fathers of Clearest Perception Inspire and strengthen us May their Divine Mothers Comfort and sustain us May we be spared a long and painful Bardo May we achieve Enlightenment 9 May the Fathers of Insightful Wisdom Inspire and strengthen us May their Divine Mothers Comfort and sustain us May we be spared a long and painful Bardo May we achieve Enlightenment 10 May the Eastern Realm be friendly to us Where White God and Yellow Goddess Dwell in the Blue Sky May the Southern Realm be friendly to us Where the Orange God and Red Goddess Glow in the Yellow Sky May the Western Realm be friendly to us Where the Blue God and Turquoise Goddess Dwell in the Red Sun-setting Sky May the Northern Realm be friendly to us Where the Jade God and the Brown Goddess Dwell in the Verdant Green surroundings May the Central Realm be friendly to us Where the White God and the Star encrusted Goddess Dwell in the Light May the elements of all the realms befriend us That we be one of the Celestial Beings May the Bardo sights and sounds Be one with our sights and sounds In the bardo may we recognise, accept and be one With the Primal trinity of Yin, Yang and Tao * 11 When the Chikhai Bardo begins avoid idleness But be attentive to your condition Concentrate, listen, reflect and meditate in what happens Recognise, accept and be one with the Primordial Trinity 12 When the bardo ‘dream’ state comes Avoid the useless sleep of the dead Focus all consciousness with a clear mind Avoid selfishness and remain alert Recognise, accept, be one with the Truth: the Pure Light 13 When the bardo meditation state is needed Avoid distraction Balance, knowledge of your condition and mystic equilibrium Recognise, accept and be one with the bardo stages Concentrate with individual attention, free from misleading passions 14 When the Chikhai Bardo begins Avoid selfish feelings and worldly passions Remain steadfast, perceive Enlightenment Be one with the mystic state of the un-born For it is time to leave your earthly form behind 15 When the Chonyid Bardo begins, avoid fear and negative emotions Recognise, accept and be one with what happens Realise these are realities of the Intermediate State It is the mid point of the Bardo planes Do not fear good and evil forms, be detached and let them pass 16 When the Sidpa Bardo begins concentrate on your rebirth Dedicate your thought to a positive future The womb may be closed and you let it cause suffering It is time for love, faith and perseverance Avoid selfishness and meditate on the God/Goddess Mother/Father polarities 17 If you have not realised the inevitability of death And surrounded yourself with useless things and activities You miss the greatest opportunity And may enter the bardos unprepared Know that these teachings can satisfy your needs It is time to listen and meditate on the words 18 Listen to these words with meaning and dedication If they are not remembered and meditated on The Knowledge of the Great Tradition is lost These words are most important * 19 When destiny in life has been fulfilled Friends and relatives will be of no help We must wander alone in the Bardo planes May the Gods, Goddesses, Teachers and Deities of Feeling and Reason Help you overcome darkness and despair 20 Alone, without friends and loved ones Alone but for innermost mind and it’s thoughts May the Enlightened Ones pour infinite compassion That you may have no fear or terror 21 When the five wisdoms appear May you recognise them, accept them and be one with them When good and evil forms appear to you May you recognise them and accept them as being of the Bardo plane 22 When past bad deeds cause you to suffer May the Gods, Goddesses, Teachers and Deities of Feeling and Reason help you When reality thunders in your ears like a thousand storms May it be transformed into the sounds of Truth and Enlightenment 23 When you are vulnerable and karmic forces bear upon you May the Gods, Goddesses, Teachers and Deities of Feeling and Reason help you 24 When it is time for you to be reborn May dark thoughts and desires not affect you When you are born according to your wish May you be free from the influence of bad Karma 25 When animals roar in your ears May you hear: OM-MANI-PADME HUM When there are storms and darkness May you see clearly with divine vision 26 May all who come to the Bardo planes Seek rebirth without malice, be re-born Enlightened When suffering and misery come to them May they transcend pain 27 When you observe your future parents May you see them as the Divine Mother-Father When you are free to choose your own rebirth May you have a body with Enlightened signs and powers 28 When you have come to your new body May you Enlighten all who see or hear you May bad karma have no influence on you May good come to you and be multiplied 29 At the moment of next birth May the Gods, Goddesses, Teachers and Deities of Feeling and Reason help May you be alert in Enlightened Consciousness from birth May you remember and not forget you previous existences 30 In all your learning, tasks and duties May you master them effectively Wherever you are, let all be well May all beings you contact have happiness 31 Enlightened Ones of perfect mind and body Of long life and great influence Whose names, even, are sacred Be with you and others that you may do well 32 With the compassion of the Gods, Goddesses, Teachers and Deities of Feeling and Reason With positive influence of the Pure Light of Truth With deepest meditation on these teachings May all you wish for come true * May your motives and intentions be pure May all mothers everywhere achieve Enlightenment May Enlightenment spread through the world May these teachings be used effectively by all May virtue and goodness grow forever
PREPARATION FOR WHAT IS TO COME: Can be read in the first 3½ days
The Chikhai Bardo
The time has come for you to enter into the Chikhai Bardo. Your breathing is about to cease (or has ceased, if not present at death). You will be able to see the Primary Clear Light: a great void like a cloudless sky, or being immersed in a boundless ocean. Your mind will float freely, alone, unaided. At this time know your eternal self. Repeat 3 or 7 times
Do no let your mind wonder. Listen carefully, for this is the time of your death. Use death as an advantage, the opportunity to achieve Enlightenment. Do this by keeping your mind clear of all negative thoughts and instead focus on the Light of Truth and the positive thought of Enlightenment. Concentrate, for it is the time of the Primary Clear Light. Meditate thus: "Even if I do not fully understand it, I accept the Chikhai Bardo. I will earnestly try to be one with it for myself and all of humanity". If death is apparent, but has not yet come, keep these teachings and inspirational spiritual experiences from earthly life in mind. Repeat if there are still signs of life
You are facing the Primary Clear Light be alert and attentive to all that happens. You can now see and hear the Ultimate Reality. Your mind is no longer restricted to your body. It can join with the great stream of Universal Consciousness, the Unborn Perfect Enlightenment. You can be beyond birth, beyond death, free and immortal: one with the Primary Clear Light. Know that life and also death are only limited reality. Only what you experience is reality. At this time it is the Truth, the Light. As you no longer recognise yourself as mortal you can be one with the Light, the ultimate ground of reality. Recognise this, accept this, and be one with it, and you will achieve Enlightenment. Repeat 3 or 7 times
Call the deceased by name again and say:
"If you have not seen the Primary Clear Light, know that you can still achieve Enlightenment through the Clear Light of the Chonyid Bardo which follows. Meditate on your favourite Deity. Think of them as if they are with you now. Be detached from the influence of bad Karma. Concentrate and do not be distracted."
The Chonyid Bardo – the Intermediate State
In this Bardo, there will be often frightening illusions based on previous Karma. The reader must prepare the deceased for them. They can see and hear, but no earthly eyes can see the deceased. Call them by name and say:
Listen carefully with undivided attention. Do not be distracted. There are six bardo states: in the womb and childhood; the dream state; deep meditation in life and three stages in death: the time of death; karmic illusions of the intermediate state; and seeking rebirth. Of these, you have already passed through the gate of death and the Primary Clear Light shone all around you, and if you did not recognise it or have slipped from it, you are now in the Intermediate State of karmic illusions.
Listen carefully now, be attentive and alert. Death has come to you, and you have had to depart this world. While you have to face this alone, know that death comes to us all.
Do not cling to life because of sentiment or fear to go on. You have no power to stay. But there is no value in wandering as a lonely spirit. Think instead of the teachings of the Enlightened Ones who have gone before. Listen carefully so that you can be saved from fear and terror in the Intermediate State. Meditate thus:
When karmic allusions dawn upon me And fear and terror can grow within me May I realise that there are but reflections from within me May I realise that they are a natural part of the death experience May I recognise this moment as one of great opportunity May I accept good and evil karmic illusions as being of my own making.
Think of these words as you go into the Intermediate State. Then when illusions come you will be able to understand them. Do not forget this secret insight. When your mind separated from your body you were able to see the Primary Clear Light. It is like a mirage, subtle but bright, dazzling in its radiance. Do not be afraid for it is the same light that we all radiate. So be comfortable with it. Within the Light is also the sound of Ultimate Reality, like a thousand simultaneous thunderclaps: Om. Do not be afraid of it, for this too is the sound that we all generate. Accept it as such. The being you are now is a spirit, not a body. It is mind, not flesh and blood and bones. Know that no sights and sounds can hurt you. For now you cannot die: you are immortal. Any illusions arise from your own mind. This is part of the Intermediate State. If you cannot remember the thoughts from your previous life and from within your present mind, the source of good or terrifying visions will scare and you can wander aimlessly through this Intermediate State. So listen carefully to these teachings that will liberate you:
The 49 ‘days’
After the 3½ half days when the previous teachings are given, the deceased is said to realise that they are dead and on each of the following 49 Earth days a teaching is given to match the progress through the after-death bardos. Call the deceased by name at the beginning of each days reading then:
For 3½ days you have been unaware of what is happening to you. Concentrate, be alert, so you will now recognise what happens. Realise that your existence and perception have changed. You will see sights and hear sounds unlike Earthly existence. They arise from the Mandala of the heart centre the realm of Enlightened Realisation, where The Enlightened One abides in dazzling White Light upon the Lion throne of the Eight-spoked Wheel embraced by his Shakti, Divine Mother of Space, radiating the Pure Blue Light of the cloudless sky. The light may shine so brightly that you can hardly bear to look at it, and bad karma could even cause you to fear it. Accept it for it can save you from a painful Bardo. The Pure Blue Light can become mixed with the dull white light of the Devas, the creators of Samsara illusion. Avoid the dull white light, as it will lead to distractions on your journey. Meditate thus:
When wandering in ignorance Seeking the Enlightenment of Universal Consciousness May the Light inspire and strengthen me May the Divine Mother comfort and sustain me May I be spared a long and painful Bardo May I be one with the Central Realm Of Universal Consciousness
The 2nd Day
This is the day of the Pure White Light of the Eastern Realm of transcendent happiness and mirror like wisdom, and of the first of Six Wisdom Deities in a halo of Rainbow Light. The immutable Enlightened One of the East will come radiating Pure White Light as if from deep blue sky. He rides on an elephant throne, holds a five pronged sceptre and is embraced the Divine Mother of mirror like wisdom. They are attended by male Deities of Love and Structure and female Deities of Beauty and Becoming. The White Light shines so bright you can hardly bear to look at it. It is mixed with the smokey grey-black light of Hell. Bad karma can cause you to fear the Pure Light and follow the dull light. Concentrate on the Pure White Light, accept, be one with it, for it is the Pure Light of Wisdom and it can save you from a painful Bardo. Following the dull light leads to suffering and an uncertain future. Meditate thus:
When wandering with selfish passion Seeking the Enlightenment of Mirror-like Wisdom May the Pure White Light inspire and strengthen me May the Divine Mother comfort and sustain me May I be spared a long and painful Bardo May I achieve Enlightenment In the Eastern Realms of transcendent happiness And mirror-like wisdom
The 3rd Day
It is the day of the Pure Yellow Light of the Southern Realm; the realm of the Enlightened One of the South, who will come like the Sun radiating Pure Yellow Light. Six wisdom deities will appear in a halo of light. The Enlightened One of the South will come like the sun radiating Pure Yellow Light. He rides a horse throne, holds a Jewel in his hand and is embraced by the Divine Mother of all, embracing equality glowing orange. They are attended by male Deities of Sky, Structure and Goodness, and two female Deities of Patience and Reverence. The Pure Yellow Light shines so bright you may find it difficult to look at. It is mixed with the dull bluish light of Earthly existence. Bad karma may cause you to fear the Clear Light, accept it, be one with it and the Pure Light of Wisdom can save you from a painful Bardo. Following the dull light leads to birth, ageing, sickness and death without Enlightenment, a sad interruption to your journey. Meditate thus:
When wandering with vanity and pride Seeking the Enlightenment of giving-feeling equality May the Pure Yellow Light inspire to strengthen me May the Divine Mother comfort and sustain me May I be spared a long and painful Bardo May I achieve Enlightenment May I be one with the Southern Realm of giving-feeling equalility
The 4th Day
It is the day of the Pure Red Light of the Western realm of meditation, perception and wisdom. Six Wisdom Deities will appear in a halo of Rainbow Light.
The all-discriminating wise Enlightened One of the West will come. His body is Red Light, like the setting Sun in a Radiant Blue Sky. He is seated on a peacock throne, holds a lotus in his hand and is embraced by the Divine Mother of Knowledge and Wisdom of Radiant Blue Light. They are attended by male Deities of Mercy and Virtue and two female Deities of Song and Light. The Pure Red Light shines so brightly you can hardly bear to look at it. It is mixed with the dull red light of Earthy existence. Bad karma can cause you to fear the Pure Light and follow the dull light. Concentrate on the Pure Red Light. Accept it, be one with it, for the pure light of perceptive and discriminating wisdom can save you from a painful bardo. The dull red light leads to the world of unhappy spirits where there is no liberation and should be avoided. Meditate thus:
When wandering selfishly and possessively Seeking the Enlightenment of discriminating wisdom May the Pure Red Light of the West inspire and strengthen me May the Divine Mother comfort and sustain me May I be spared a long and painful Bardo May I achieve Enlightenment May I be one with the discriminating wisdom of the Western Realm
The 5th Day
It is the day of the Pure Green Light of the Northern Realm of Will-achieving Wisdom. Six Wisdom Deities will appear in a halo of Rainbow Light. The fearless Achieving Enlightening One of the North will come. His body is green and he radiates Green Light. He rides a harpy throne, holds a four-headed equal armed cross sceptre and is embraced by the Divine Mother of Constancy and Resolution. They are attended by male Deities of Form and Clear Perception and female Deities of Essence and Substance. The Pure Green Light will shine so brightly you can hardly bear to look at it. It is mixed with the dull green light of envy and jealousy. Bad karma may cause you to fear the Pure Green Light and follow the dull green light. Concentrate on the Pure Green Light, accept it and be one with it for it is the Light of All-achieving Wisdom. Avoid the dull green light as it leads to the world of continual conflict and chaos, a sad interruption to your journey. Meditate thus:
When wandering with envy and jealousy Seeking the Enlightenment of All-Achieving Wisdom May the Pure Green Light inspire and strengthen me May the Divine Mother comfort and sustain me May I be spared a long and painful Bardo May I achieve Enlightenment May I be one with the Northern Realm of All-achieving Wisdom
The 6th Day
The Enlightened Ones have appeared to you one by one but bad karma, fear, or distraction can cause you to remain in Chonyid Bardo, unable to achieve Liberation. You could have joined the halo of Rainbow Light and achieved Enlightenment. But listen now, concentrate, be alert and attentive, for they will come again. The five divine colours, white, yellow, red, blue and green will shine on you simultaneously. Amid a halo of Rainbow Light the Enlightened Ones will come with all their attendant deities as before. Forty-two in all, including the great Father-Mother of All. They arise from the love within you. They come from the four main regions, while you at the centre make up the five realms. The deities will come in one grand assembly. The colours will shine brightly upon you. At the centre Pure Light will shine from inverted blue cups, surrounded by smaller ones radiating Pure Blue Light. From the East, the Pure White Light of Mirror-like Wisdom, like a radiant mirror, surrounded by smaller and even smaller ones that radiate Pure White Light. From the South, shines the Pure Yellow Light of all-embracing Wisdom, from inverted cups, surrounded by smaller and even smaller cups. From the West, the Pure Red Light shines from inverted blue cups, surrounded by smaller and even smaller cups. From the North, shines the Pure Green of all-achieving Wisdom, but it will not shine brightly because you have not yet achieved perfect Enlightenment. All the deities will come to you at once, the lights shining upon you. Do not move towards any of them but remain as if afloat in a great ocean of Light, perceiving all, striving to be one with all of them equally. In this way you will achieve Enlightenment. You will know that they are reflections of your own inner lights and achieve serenity of spirit. But the six dull impure lights will shine with the Pure Divine Lights; dull white, dull green, dull yellow, dull blue, dull red, and dull grey-black. Do dot follow these dull lights. They lead to pain and suffering and an uncertain future. If you have not followed these teachings, you may fear the pure lights and be attracted to the dull lights. Guard against this. As the deities have come to you out of compassion, you come to them for refuge and Enlightenment. Meditate thus:
When wondering with lust, hate, stupidity, selfishness and jealousy Seeking the Enlightenment of the Five Wisdoms United May the Enlightened Ones inspire and strengthen me May the Divine Mothers comfort and sustain me May I be saved from impure lights from other worlds May I be spared a long and painful Bardo May I be one with the Five Divine Realms Meditate in this way, recognising your own Inner Light and be one with it, and not slip downwards into the realms of bad Karma.
The 7th Day
On this day you will see multi-coloured lights arising from your own thoughts. At the same time, the deities of Feeling will come to you from the Mandala of the throat centre, the realm of Knowledge. Each carries symbols of death, like the scythe or blood-filled skull cups. From the mandala centre, surrounded by a halo of Rainbow Light, the Supreme Knower, Lotus Lord of Dance, comes dancing, radiating the five colours, embraced by his consort, the Red Dakini. From Mandala East comes the Earth Knower, smiling, dancing, white in colour, embraced by the White Dakini in a yellow sky. From Mandala south comes the Life Knower, smiling, dancing, yellow in colour, embraced by the Yellow Dakini in a red sky. From Mandala West comes the Knower of the Great Symbol, smiling, dancing, red in colour, embraced by The Red Dakini in a blue sky. From Mandala North comes the Immediate Insight Knower, half smiling, half frowning, dancing, green in colour, embraced by the Green Dakini, also in a clear blue sky. Surrounding them, there are a multitude of deities and dakinis with trumpets and drums, banners and canopies, burning incense, dancing freely, making music that resonates thunderously everywhere. They come to reward good Karma and judge bad Karma. From the Deities of Feeling, the Pure Five-coloured Light of Wisdom shines so bright you can hardly look at it. At the same time, the dull blue light of the animal world shines forth. Bad Karma may cause you to fear the Pure Light and to follow the dull light. Avoid this, for following it leads to suffering and a long painful Bardo.
Accept the Pure Light of Wisdom. Be one with it. It is your wisdom and within it Truth resonates like a thousand thunders. Meditate thus:
And I now fervently appeal to them for help The Five Enlightened Ones have come to me But I have been unable to be one with them May the Deities of Feeling prevent me slipping downwards May I be one with them May the Dakinis comfort and sustain me May I be spared a long and painful Bardo May I enter the Paradise Realms
The 8th day
Be attentive and listen carefully. It is the day of the Masculine Enlightened One of the Mind Mandala Centre. He comes because you could not be one with the deities, which came before. He is dark brown and radiantly aflame. Between and above his eyes, he has the third eye of Transcendent Knowledge. His face is red, white and brown, adorned with skulls and symbols of the Sun and Moon. His left hand holds a sword of war and his right hand a bell of peace. His face is frightening and his voice loud and piercing. He is embraced by the Mother of Femininity. They both stand on one leg while the other is wrapped around the partner and they radiate brightly. They are borne on a platform carried by half eagles, half humans.
Fear not, they are the Enlightened Ones of the Central Realm. Know that they arrive in the form of your own thoughts. Recognise them, accept them, be one with them and you will attain Enlightenment
The 9th day
This is the day of the Thunderbolt Deity of the East. He comes because you were not one with the deities as they appeared to you before. He is white and radiantly aflame. His hands hold symbols of Conflict and Peace. He is embraced by the Divine Thunderbolt Mother, drinking blood. Fear not. Do not be confused. They are really the Enlightened Ones of the East and their forms arise from your own thoughts. Recognise them, be one with them and you will attain Enlightenment.
The 10th day
This is the day of the Jewelled Deity of the South. He comes because you could not be one with the deities as they appeared to you before. He is yellow and radiantly aflame. His hands hold symbols of Conflict and Peace. He is embraced by the Divine Jewelled Mother, drinking blood. Fear not. Do not be confused. They are really the Enlightened Ones of the South and their forms arise from your own thoughts. Recognise them, be one with them and you will attain Enlightenment.
The 11th day
This is the day of the Lotus Deity of the West. He comes because you were not one with the deities as they appeared to you before. He is dark red and radiantly aflame in a sea of blue and holds in his hands, symbols of Conflict and Peace. He is embraced by the Divine Lotus Mother, drinking blood. Fear not. They are really the Enlightened Ones of the West. Know that their forms arise from your own thoughts. Recognise them, and accept them, be one with them and you will attain Enlightenment.
The 12th day
This is the day of the Lord of the Karma of the North. He is dark green and radiantly aflame in a blue sky. He is accompanied by goddesses, some in human form and some in animal form. His hands hold symbols of conflict and peace. He is embraced by the Divine Mother of Karma, drinking blood. Fear not, do not be confused. These are really the Enlightened Ones of the North. Know that their forms are of your own mind’s making. Recognise them, accept them, be one with them, merge your light with theirs and you will receive Enlightenment.
The 13th day
On this day, many fearful deities will come. First eight death goddesses come from the eight directions of the Mind Mandala. A white death goddess holds a corpse in her hand against a yellow sky, like a club, while drinking blood from the other hand. A yellow death goddess comes from the South and a red sky, with bow and arrow ready to shoot. A red death goddess comes from the West and an ocean of blue, waving the banner of a crocodile. A black death goddess comes from the north and a dark green/brown landscape, carrying a sceptre and drinking blood. A red death goddess comes from the Southeast eating intestines. A green death goddess comes from the Southwest, with a sceptre and drinking blood. A yellow/white death goddess comes from the Northeast, also eating a corpse. A blue death goddess comes from the Northeast also eating a corpse. The eight death goddesses surround the five Deities of Reasoning which have previously come to you. Outside those, come eight animal deities: a dark brown lion from the East shaking a corpse in his mouth; a red tiger from the South, snarling, showing fangs: a black fox from the West eating entrails; a dark blue wolf from the North, tearing at a corpse. A yellow/white vulture comes from the Southeast with a half a skeletal corpse; a dark red bird from the Southwest, comes with a corpse in it’s beak; a black crow comes from the Northwest carrying a skull and eating heart and lungs; a dark blue owl comes from the Northeast, skull in it’s claws, chewing offal. Do not fear these deities. Know that their forms are created from your own mind. Recognise them for this, be one with them, and you will attain Enlightenment.
The 14th Day
On this day the doorkeepers come. The White Tiger Goddess of the East with pointed stick and drinking blood. The yellow sow goddess of the South carries a noose. The red lion goddess of the West carries a chain. The green snake goddess of the North carries a bell. They are joined by the deities and the divine mothers, death goddesses and animal deities: thirty deities in all. Do not fear them. Know that they are forms of your own thoughts. Recognise and accept them as such. Others will come.
From each of the cardinal directions six animal goddesses come. From the East comes the dark brown yak, the red/yellow snake, the green/black leopard, the blue monkey, the red bear, and the white bear. From the south comes the yellow bat, the red crocodile, the red scorpion, the white hawk, the dark green fox and the yellow black tiger. From the West comes the green/black vulture, the red horse, the white eagle, the yellow dog, the red bird and the green stag. From the North comes the blue wolf, the red goat, the black sow, the red crow, the green/black elephant and the blue snake.
In addition, the four mystic goddesses of the door will come from the East. From the East the black cuckoo; from the South the yellow goat; from the west the red lion and from the North the green/black snake. They appear many times your own size. Recognise them and accept them. Know that they arise from your own thoughts and recognise them and you will achieve Enlightenment. Enlightenment has to occur at the right time and the right time for you could be now. Flee from this and you will wander down into a long and painful bardo and an uncertain future. The Lord of Death can fill your mind with terrifying deities: glassy eyes, protruding teeth, big bellied, carrying your karmic record, shrieking "kill, kill, kill" in judgement, eating brains, drinking blood, tearing out hearts, tearing off heads. But do not be afraid.
Your existence is now only spiritual and you cannot be killed or injured in an earthly sense. The deities are not of earthly matter. Knowing this will eliminate fear. Meditate thus:
The Deities of Reasoning have come to help me And now I fervently appeal to them for help I appeal also to my favourite deity and my spiritual teacher. When I wander full of overpowering illusions Seeking Enlightenment, may I avoid fear and confusion May the Enlightened Ones, Deities of Feeling and Reason, inspire and strengthen me May the Divine Mothers comfort and sustain me May I achieve Enlightenment When I wander alone and When illusions arise within me May the Enlightened Ones with their power and compassion Save me from fear and confusion May the Five Pure Lights of Wisdom shine May I recognise, accept and be one with them When the Deities of Feeling and Reason come When I suffer from bad Karma May my favourite deity help me When reality thunders like a thousand thunders May I hear OM-MANI-PADME-HUM When I suffer from my own bad Karma May the Compassionate One help me May the Primary Clear Light come to me May the five Elements be friends to me May I recognise, accept and be one with the five Wisdoms May I achieve Enlightenment
Sidpa Bardo – The Bardo of becoming – The Intermediate State
The 15th Day
If you did not become one with the Self Projection Deities of the Chonyid Bardo, you will find yourself in the Sidpa Bardo. Birth into this Bardo is unlike that on Earth. You did not know that you were dead for three and a half days, then your consciousness was reborn like a trout jumping from water.
Your Bardo body seems to resemble your physical body With all senses and the ability to move at will With Supernatural Karmic power Able to see or to be seen by Bardo beings
Your Bardo body has certain forms of perfection. It is born of hopes and desires and signs of what is to come. This will include visions of the realm of your future existence. Do not be attracted to them, they lead to a long and painful Bardo. You have not been able to be one with the Deities of the Chonyid Bardo and now it is most urgent that you keep your consciousness clear of all distractions. Do this and you will be liberated without entering the womb. Meditate on your favourite deity and spiritual teacher as if they were at the crown of your head.
"With all senses and the ability to move at will" means while even if you were disabled when you were living, it will feel as if all your senses and functions have been restored and you can move freely, even more freely than on Earth. Walls, rocks and suchlike will not be a barrier to movement. This proves you are in the Sidpa Bardo. Beware of this: you are no longer restricted by a physical body.
" To see and be seen by Bardo beings" means not only that you can see Bardo beings but also those with whom you will share the next existence. You will be able to see the Gods, if you have prepared yourself with meditation. Do not dwell on these things but meditate on your guru, his teachings or the compassionate Enlightened One. You will see and hear those who are still in earthly existence. If you speak to them they cannot hear your voice or see you. If you see those mourning your loss, you can do nothing for them so do not bring them suffering. Concentrate on your favourite deity or spiritual teacher. At all times you will perceive a grey/white light. You could be up to seven weeks in this state but the effects of Karma will affect the effects of time. The wind of Karma is behind you, pushing you on. Do not fear it. Your past life has created it. There is darkness ahead and terrifying sights and sounds. These too, arise from within and your own fears. These can take the form of attacking demons, wild animals, storm and other natural disasters or angry mobs pursuing you. Flight could find you hanging over a cliff looking down white black and red canyons of selfishness, stupidity and anger. This is further proof of the Sidpa Bardo. Meditate on the Compassionate One, master of the Primordial Trinity of Yin,Yang and Tao, and ask to be saved from suffering. If you have meditated on these things while you were alive, you will experience happy sights and sounds. You may find yourself in a neutral indifferent state, if you have not lived at the extremes of good or bad Karma. Whatever your experience, do not be attracted to it. Keep your thoughts on the Compassionate One and the Primordial Trinity. You may be restless, roaming from one temple to another. Consciousness may seem dim and hopelessness and despair affect your feelings. Strive for clear consciousness. You cannot eat but partake in terrestrial offerings. Friends cannot help you by affecting your Karmic state. It is yours alone. Happiness and suffering are your own making. Sighting of your home, family or even your own corpse may sadden you, cause you to desire an earthly body again, and set you wandering in search of such a body. Your old body is beyond use, even if you enter it. Be patient and attain the yoga state of clear consciousness.
Suffering is due to bad Karma, nothing more. Meditate on your favourite deity, the Primordial Trinity or your spiritual teacher. If you cannot hold to this meditation, a spirit of your earthly age at death will come and count your bad deeds with white pebbles. There are projections of your life and how you judge your past deeds. The Lord of Death will come back with the Magick Mirror that reflects your past deeds and their Karmic influence. Then the Lord of Death may appear to put a noose around your neck, drag you off and chop off your head, tear out your heart and intestines, eat your brains, drink your blood, chew your flesh and gnaw your bones. Remember you cannot die. Your mystic Bardo body can re-materialise, and the counting and dismembering begin again. Do not be afraid or try to lie to yourself. This judgement scene arises from your own thoughts and past actions. It is not made of Earthly matter and matter cannot harm you.
Be aware that you are in the final Bardo of the inter-Earth consciousness. Concentrate on your favourite deity or spiritual teacher. Your state of voidness is really the radiant state of your own primordial mind.
In an instant, a great change can be effected In an instant Enlightment can be achieved
Up to now, the beings of Bardo consciousness have come to you and if you have not been able to be one with them, this has caused suffering. But you can still attain liberation. Think of suffering in bardos as tests for your understanding. Fear not and speak the Truth to the Lord of Death.
The Importance of Realisation
Your emotions are intense and can change rapidly from joy to sorrow. Accept these moods but do not surrender to them. If your next existence is higher than your last, you will see visions of it. If you see sights that cause you anger, you will be reborn with the hell beings. Avoid anger. If you remember and desire your earthly possessions or envy those who now have them, you will be born a hungry ghost. Worldly goods are of no use now. Think of them as offerings to the Primordial Trinity. Seek yogic free-flowing consciousness. If you see religious services carried out in your name but think them done badly, you will be born among the hell beings. This is a protection of your own doubt. Meditate to strengthen the certainty of spiritual truth. When your mind is free of the body, thoughts have great strength. Meditate on your favourite deity and thus:
When wandering, alone, friendless When my Bardo spirit body is born May the Enlightened Ones in their compassion Save me from fear, confusion and suffering If I suffer because of bad Karma May my favourite deities help me May I hear: OM-MANI-PADME-HUM. When the Karma comes and I am defenceless May the Compassionate One protect me If I am tempted to create bad Karma May the Primary Clear Light come to me.
The Six Worlds
As you did not become one with the previous teachings, your previously earthly existence dims in your memory. Your future existence now becomes clearer and clearer. This may sadden you as you feel driven far and wide to find a new body. You will see the lights of the six worlds. The one that shines brightest is the world of your next existence. It is bright because of the power of past karma. Dull white light radiates from the world of pleasure seeking gods; dull green light shines from the world of warring giants; dull yellow light shines from the world of rational humans; dull blue light shines from the world of wild animals, where the law of the jungle prevails; dull red light shines from the world of wandering unhappy spirits and the dull grey light emanates from the all-purging hell realms. Concentrate on the brightest light and recognise it as the Compassionate One as he appears in your being. Meditate on your favourite deity and feel that they are one with you: the pure illusory form. Then meditate in the highest state you can attain meditation. In this way, you can be one with the Primary Clear Light. After that, let your consciousness fade inward. Know that wherever there is space, there is consciousness. If you become one with that prevailing space you will attain Enlightenment.
The Process of Rebirth
As you reached this stage in the bardos and have not achieved liberation because of the teachings, but because of Karma, you feel you are ascending, descending or remaining on a level. You should try to meditate on the Enlightened One. Again, if you experience high winds, storms, pursuit of mobs, or the like, or if you have a good Karma and experience happy sights and sounds, these are only projections of your own self-made being. So will also be the signs you see of your next birthplace. As you have not recognised and been one with the previous teachings, listen carefully, for every one can understand what follows:
Preventing Entry into the Womb
Meditate on your favourite deity, as you would contemplate the moon’s refection on still water: real yet unreal. If you have no favourite deity, meditate on these words. The let the image of the deity fade inwards from the extremities. Meditate on the Primary Clear Light. This prevents entry into the womb.
First Method of Closing the Womb Door
If you have failed in the previous teaching, the womb door will remain open. Meditate thus:
At this time, in the midst of the Sidpa Bardo I concentrate on one single thought Being one with the mainstream of good Karma I oppose bad Karma and close the womb door And meditate on the Guru Father-Mother Deities
If you cast no reflection or shadow, you are still in Sidpa Bardo. Concentrate on the Enlightened Ones who have gone before single-mindly. Failure to do so means a long and painful Bardo.
Second Method of Closing the Womb Door
You will see men and women in sexual union. Do not distract them as they are the Divine Father-Mother, but ask for guidance and the womb door should close. Meditate on them as your favourite deities and make mental offerings.
Third Method of Closing the Womb Door.
There is birth by egg, by womb or from seeds and spores. Of these, birth by egg and womb, have much in common. Again you will see males and females in sexual union. Entering a womb now, a cave, or an egg could cause you to be born a horse, a bird, a dog or other animal. If you are to be a male, you will be attracted to the mother: if you are to be a female, you will be attracted to the father and enter his seed. You may emerge from embryo to discover you are an animal or insect and have the mental capacity and physical attributes of that creature. Or you may remain in the Bardo to wander amongst the hell beings or hungry ghosts in pain and suffering. If attraction or repulsion to one or other of the love making couples occurs, be firm and resolute and meditate. The womb door will be closed by firm meditation alone.
Fourth Method of Closing the Door
This is the method of unreal illusion. Know that the couple in sexual union and the other sights and sounds of the Bardo are unreal illusions, life dreams, mirages or reflections: they only exist in the mind. Why seek them or why be repulsed by the? If you have chosen up to now, to see the real as unreal, the illusory as true, or the intangible as tangible and continue to do so now, you may wander for ages in fear and suffering in the six worlds. Concentrate on this teaching: that all you see and hear is unreal illusion and the womb door will close.
Fifth Method of Closing the Womb Door
If the womb door remains open it is because you still believe the unreal is real! Listen and learn of the Primary Clear Light: "All sights and sounds arise from within myself. Even my mind is unborn, undying in the Light." Allow your mind to float serenely, like pouring water into water: Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. Do this and the four kinds of birth will close.
Choosing the womb
If you have not recognised, accepted and been one with the previous clear and powerful teachings in the heightened consciousness of the after death state, the womb door is open to you and it is time to enter within. Choose the womb carefully, according to these teachings.
You will see signs of the continent of your birth. If you are to be born on an ‘Eastern’ continent, you will see a lake with swans. Do not enter there now. There is happiness and comfort but spiritual truth is weak. If you are to be born in a ‘Southern’ continent, you will see impressive mansions. Enter if you can. If you are to be born in a ‘Western’ continent, you will see a lake with grazing horses on the shore. Do not enter there. There is wealth and abundance but spiritual truth is weak. If you are to be born in a ‘Northern’ continent, you will see a lake surrounded by trees and cattle grazing on the shore. Do not enter these now. There is long life and many advantages but spiritual truth is weak. If you are to be born as a Pleasure-Seeking God, you will see temples full of gold and jewels. Enter there if you can. If you are born to be a warring giant, you will see a great forest or rings of fire revolving in opposite directions. Do not enter there. If you are to be born in the animal world, you will see caves and deep pits shrouded in mist or fog. Do not enter there. If you are to be born a hungry ghost you will see barren deserts, desolate planes, impenetrable jungles, thick forests and shallow caverns. Do not enter here. If you are to be born among the hell beings, you will hear enchanting songs carrying the force of your Karma. You will feel a strong incitement to enter, but resist it with all your strength. You will see black horses, white horses, white houses, black roads and deep pits. There you will suffer for ages the extremes of heat and cold. Do not enter there.
Escaping Karmic Torment
Behind you is the terrifying raging fire of karma, driving you on, engulfing you. Storms, blasts of rain, snow and hail, assail you. There are terrifying sounds that make you want to flee. Seeking refuge, you see mansions, caves, lush jungles and gigantic lotus blossoms. You enter a lotus and the petals close over you. There is peace and quiet. You do not want to leave. To do so means returning to the terrifying Karmic forces you fled from. You are afraid to enter a womb because it may lead you to a life of suffering, perhaps with an imperfect body. When these terrifying forces engulf you, focus your attention on the Wrathful Deity who can exorcise evil spirits. Recognise, accept and be one with one of these deities and you will have the power to choose the womb door which will benefit you. Know that these deities are born of deep meditation while in the Bardo state. Ponder the unreal illusions of your mind’s creation and do not be attracted or repulsed by your own visions. But be one with free- floating yogic consciousness or meditate on your favourite deity.
Preparing for Rebirth
If Karmic forces cause you to enter a womb, follow these teachings to select a womb door. Do not enter the first womb that presents itself to you. If evil forces try to force you to enter, be one with the Wrathful Deity with the power of exorcism. You have seen the continents where you may be born. Choose wisely now: a pure realm of higher existence or impure realm of worldly woes. To attain birth in a higher realm: Meditate thus:
"How painful now for me that I could not be one with the sacred principles of my mind. The six worlds have confused and frightened me so that I must flee from them. I act now so that I will be born of a lotus blossom, at the feet of the Enlightened One, in the Western Realm of the transcendent happiness" Meditate thus:
Concentrate on that realm you earnestly wish to enter, using this same form of lotus meditation. Do so and you will be born at once in that realm. If birth on a higher place is not possible, or if you prefer to enter a worldly womb door, listen carefully. You have seen the continents you can be born in. Choose one where spiritual truth is strong and enter it. You will be drawn to the proper womb by its sweet smell. This means the womb is ready for entry. What ever you see, remember it may not be what it seems, and choose carefully. Meditate thus:
"I want to be born the son of a yogi, or a family of high calling and virtue in pursuit of spiritual truth, so that I may be of benefit to others." Enter the womb only after you consider carefully your choice if birth, so that the womb is transformed into a holy temple. As you enter, meditate on your favourite deity or the Enlightened Ones. Do not let bad Karma fool you into thinking a good birth will come from a bad choice. Be impartial, free of bias, and what appears a bad womb, may lead to a good birth. Meditate on the Primary Trinity and choose the Middle Way. Your past loved ones cannot help you now. If you are still in the Bardo when you hear this, listen intently to this for it is the final teaching: Concentrate with undivided attention on the Compassionate Enlightened One. Be one with him. Know yourself to be one with the White Light of the Pleasure Seeking Gods or the Yellow Light of the human world. Enter, if you can, among the temples of gold with beautiful gardens and Enlightenment can be achieved. All the Enlightened ones of past, present and future cannot transcend these teachings of the Bardos, which liberate the dead. They are now complete. Om-Mane-Padme-Hum