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Flashcards in The Tibetan Book of the Dead Deck (9)
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1

• Bardo

In between or intermediate

2

• Thodol

– liberation through hearing or understanding

3

• The bardo thodol

is read to the dead or dying person

4

The Six Bardos

1. The Bardo of Life
2. The Bardo of Dream
3. The Bardo of Meditation
4. The Bardo of the Dying Process (ends in the moment of death)
5. The Bardo of After Death (Reality-as-it-is)
6. The Bardo of the Rebirth Process (ends in the moment of conception)

5

Three reasons to contemplate death

• Death is certain
• The time and occasion of death is uncertain
• Spiritual practice is the only protection at death and beyond

6

The Bardo of the Dying Process -

1. Dissolution of the Earth element
a. External sign → all the physical aspects of the person become weak
b. Internal sign → mind experiences wavy, mirage-like images
2. Dissolution of the Water element
a. External sign → the liquids of the body dry up
b. Internal sign → mind experiences smoke-like images
3. Dissolution of the Fire element
a. External sign → digestive processes going, memory fails
b. Internal sign → mind filled with images of sparks like fire-flies
4. Dissolution of the Air element
a. External sign → breathing stops, person no longer conscious of external things
b. Internal sign → mind experiences images of flickering light like a flickering candle flame

7

The Dying Process – Dissolution of Mind from gross to subtle

5. When conceptual thought ceases, the mind is empty of all content and filled with white light
6. When that state of consciousness dissolves, the mind is filled with red light
7. When that state of consciousness dissolves, mind is filled with black light
8. When the black light state of consciousness dissolves, mind is filled with a clear radiance – this is called the “Clear Light of Death” and is considered the subtlest level of consciousness
a. This state can last for an instant, for 3 days or longer
b. The end of that state is considered to be the moment of death

8

The Bardo of the After Death state (Reality-as-it-is)

• Consciousness then ‘wakes up’ into a dream-like state in which all its own projection appear external to it
• In this state, many hallucinations appear, both beautiful and horrifying
• The Barddo Thodol says “Listen without distraction…Recognition and liberation are simultaneous”

9

The Bardo of the Rebirth Process

• Consciousness becomes tired of the changing conditions of the Bardo and longs for staility
• Consciousness looks for a womb – a place to stop moving, to rest
• The Bardo Thodol says “if you have not been able to find liberation, then look for a good human rebirth”
• The 3 Bardo periods related to death are said to last 49 days; consciousness then enters a new womb and a new birth