The Tibetan Book of the Dead

First Bardo: The Period of Ego-Loss or Non-Game Ecstasy (Chikhai Bardo)

Second Bardo: The Period of Hallucinations (Chonyid Bardo)

Third Bardo: The Period of Re-Entry (Sidpa Bardo)

General Conclusion

Well-prepared students with advanced spiritual understanding can use the "Transference" principle at the moment of ego-death and need not traverse subsequent Bardo states. They will rise to a state of illumination and remain there throughout the entire period. Others, who are a little less experienced in spiritual discipline, will recognize the Clear Light in the second stage of the First Bardo and will then win liberation. Others, at a still less advanced level, may be liberated while experiencing one of the positive or negative visions of the Second Bardo. Since there are several turning points, liberation can be obtained at one or the other through recognition at moments of confrontation. Those of very weak karmic connection, i.e., those who have been involved in heavy ego-dominated game-playing, will have to wander downwards to the Third Bardo. Again, many points for liberation have been charted. The weakest persons will fall under the influence of guilt and terror. For weaker persons there are various graded teachings for preventing the return to routine-reality, or at least for choosing it wisely. Through applying the methods of visualization described, they should be able to experience the benefits of the session. Even those persons whose familiar routines are primitive and egocentric can be prevented from entering into misery. Once they have experienced, for however short a period, the great beauty and power of free awareness, they may, in the next period, meet with a guide or friend who will initiate them further into the way.

The way in which this teaching is effective, even for a voyager already in the Sidpa Bardo, is as follows: each person has some positive and some negative game-residues (karma). The continuity of consciousness has been broken by an ego-death for which the person was not prepared. The teachings are like a trough in a broken water drain, temporarily restoring the continuity with positive karma. As stated before, the extreme suggestibility or detached quality of consciousness in this state ensures the efficacy of listening to the doctrine. The teaching embedded in this Manual may be compared to a catapult which can direct the person towards the goal of liberation. Or like the moving of a big wooden beam, which is so heavy that a hundred men cannot carry it, but by being floated on water it can be easily moved. Or it is like controlling a horse's bit and course by the use of a bridle.

Therefore, these teachings should be vividly impressed on the voyager, again and again. This Manual may also be used more generally. It should be recited as often as possible and committed to memory as far as possible. When ego-death or final death comes, recognize the symptoms, recite the Manual to yourself, and reflect upon the meaning. If you cannot do it yourself, ask a friend to read it to you. There is no doubt as to its liberative power.

It liberates by being seen or heard, without need of ritual or complex meditation. This Profound Teaching liberates those of great evil karma through the Secret Pathway. One should not forget its meaning and the words, even though pursued by seven mastiffs. By this Select Teaching, one obtains Buddhahood at the moment of ego-loss. Were the Buddhas of past, present and future to seek, they could not find any doctrine transcending this.

Here ends the Bardo Thodol, known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead

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