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Tibetan Book of the Dead

The Art of Living and Dying

  • Bardo Thodol: Liberation by Hearing on the After Death Plane
  • The Chikhai Bardo: The Primary & Secondary Clear Lights
  • Chonyid Bardo: To Follow the Bright Light & Avoid the Dim
  • The Sidpa Bardo: Rebirth & the 6 Lokas
  • Summary

Introduction

The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a most unusual book in the annals of recorded thought. It instructs one in the art of dying. The Buddhist sect responsible for this manuscript holds that with death man passes into what they call the Bardo world. One remains in this world for forty-nine days and then reenters the womb and is born again. This book deals with those forty-nine days. It tells the dead what to expect in this after-death state. Like boot camp in the military it gives you a best behavior for every situation. But while the army trains one to escape the snares of death the Tibetan Book of the Dead teaches one how best to avoid the snares of life.

Bardo Thodol: Liberation by Hearing on the After Death Plane

Bardo Thodol, which means ‘Liberation by hearing on the After Death Plane’, is the Tibetan name for the Book of the Dead. On the surface it is an instruction manual for the Living on what to whisper into the ear of someone who has just died. These verbal instructions are suggestions on how to be reborn into a higher plane.

The Chikhai Bardo: The Primary & Secondary Clear Lights

Let us examine the specific instructions from the Bardo Thodol.

Chonyid Bardo: To Follow the Bright Light & Avoid the Dim

Failing to recognize the Secondary Clear Light one slips further away from his subconscious and is wrapped up more in the manifestations. In this stage, called the Chonyid Bardo, one is presented with karmic illusions. On the first to seventh day one is presented with the peaceful deities: from the eighth to the fourteenth day one is presented with the wrathful deities. Carl Jung says in his commentary on the Bardo Thodol,

The Sidpa Bardo: Rebirth & the 6 Lokas

The final Bardo is the Sidpa Bardo, the Bardo of Rebirth. Here one is instructed in the methods of attaining rebirth on the highest plane possible.

Summary

In summary, the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead) deals with the process of life as well as the process of death. There are three stages. The Chikhai Bardo deals with the moment of peaking and immediately afterward. It teaches one to retain the peak experience as long as possible. The Chonyid Bardo deals with the period after the peak; the period when one is feeling powerful emotions and experiencing heavy (profound) thoughts. It teaches one to recognize all good and bad experiences of this period as projections of the self, the subconscious. It teaches one to accept truth as the one guiding principle of life. The Sidpa Bardo deals with the period of rebirth into new selves. It teaches one to have good thoughts in order to gain rebirth in the highest plane possible. The whole book can be thought of as a guidebook to physical death, a guidebook to a meditation or drug experience, or more all-embracing, a guidebook to the death of individual selves and how to avoid rebirth, or at least how to be reborn in a higher plane.

Muse-driven: Quieting the Mind, Listening to my Little Voice & Following her Directive.

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