Semida teaches Bardo Thodol courses
The Tibetan Book of the Dead offers a way to reach liberation both in life and after death.
At our course will learn how to apply Bardo to get liberation. You will also learn how to help the beings who have gone out of this world to achieve release or to reach a paradisiacal plan and to choose in their next incarnation a spiritually, good social , professional and material life.
Teachers have studied Bardo Thodol and this topic for many years, both in the country and in the monasteries of Indian Tibet.
Bardo Thodol: The Tibetan Book of the Dead
“Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest. Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home.”
Bardo Thodol, which roughly translates to ‘ Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State’, is one of the best known works of the Nyingma literature. The text widely known as ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’, is meant to guide one through the experiences consciousness goes through after death, in the Bardo, the interval between death and the next rebirth.
According to Britannica, although tradition attributes the Bardo Thodol to Padmasambhava, the Indian Tantric guru (spiritual guide) who is credited with introducing Buddhism to Tibet in the 7th century, the book was likely composed in the 14th century.
Bardo Thödol is a funerary text recited to ease the consciousness of a recently deceased person through death and assist it into a favorable rebirth. The first English translation of the Bardo Thodol was titled ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ by Walter Evans-Wentz due to its similarities with another funerary text, the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
In his commentary on the Bardo Thodol, late Chogyam Trungpa explained that Bardo means “gap,” or interval of suspension, and that Bardo is part of our psychological make-up. Bardo experiences happen to us all the time in life, not just after death. The “Bardo Thodol” can be read as a guide to life experiences as well as a guide to the time between death and rebirth.
Death holds up an all-seeing mirror, ‘the mirror of past actions’…in which the consequences of all our negative and positive actions are clearly seen and there is a weighing of our past actions in the light of their consequences.— ’The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ by Walter Evans-Wentz
According to Anuttarayoga Tantra (Highest Yoga Tantra), only during the process of dying can we achieve liberation from the cycle of existence. The Tibetan Book of the Dead divides the intermediate state between lives into three Bardos:
- The Bardo of Dying, which features the experience of the “clear light of reality”, or at least the nearest approximation of which one is spiritually capable
- The Bardo of Experiencing Reality, which features the experience of visions of various Buddha forms, or the nearest approximations of which one is capable
- The Bardo of Rebirth, which features ‘karmically’ impelled hallucinations which eventually result in rebirth, typically ‘yab-yum’ imagery of men and women passionately entwined
The Bardo of Dying describes a dissolution of the self, a falling away of external reality, with the remaining consciousness experiencing the true nature of mind as a dazzling light or luminosity.
The Bardo of Experiencing Reality describes lights of a wide range of colors and visions of wrathful and peaceful deities; yet one should not be afraid of these visions, as they are nothing but projections of mind.
Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung highly revered The Tibetan Book of the Dead, considering it a great psychological work. This view came primarily due to the symbolic nature of the work, describing peaceful deities, as well as wrathful ones, who drink blood, lick brains and chop heads.
The psychological significance of these visions can be best understood through this excerpt taking from Walter Evans-Wentz’s English translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead:
Accordingly, the Peaceful Deities are the personified forms of the sublimest human sentiments, which proceed from the psychic heart — center. As such, they are represented as the first to dawn, because, psychologically speaking, the heart — born impulses precede the brain — born impulses. They come in peaceful aspect to control and to influence the deceased whose connection with the human world has just been severed; the deceased has left relatives and friends behind, works unaccomplished, desires unsatisfied, and, in most cases, he possesses a strong yearning to recover the lost opportunity afforded by human embodiment for spiritual enlightenment. But, in all his impulses and yearnings, karma is all — masterful; and, unless it be his karmic lot to gain liberation in the first stages, he wanders downwards into the stages wherein the heart — impulses give way to brain — impulses.Whereas the Peaceful Deities are the personifications of the feelings, the Wrathful Deities are the personifications of the reasonings and proceed from the psychic brain — center. Yet, just as impulses arising in the heart — center may transform themselves into the reasonings of the brain — center, so the Wrathful Deities are the Peaceful Deities in a changed aspect. As the intellect comes into activity, after the sublime heart — born impulses subside, the deceased begins to realize more and more the state in which he is; and with the super-normal faculties of the Bardo — body which he begins to make use of — in much the same manner as an infant new — born in the human world begins to employ the human plane sense — faculties — he is enabled to think how he may win this or that state of existence. Karma is, however, still his master, and defines his limitations. As on the human plane the sentimental impulses are most active in youth and often lost in mature life, wherein reason commonly takes the place of them, so on the after — death plane, called the Bardo, the first experiences are happier than the later experiences.— ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ by Walter Evans-Wentz
The third and last Bardo is that of reincarnation, in which the soul is pulled into another body to start a new life, often but not alw
ays in the physical world. Tibetan Buddhists believe that the best world to be born in is the physical world, due to its great opportunity for spiritual growth and realization.
If the individual does not reincarnate in the physical world, he or she will go to one of the other five worlds of rebirth, which includes the heaven worlds, the hell worlds, the world of hungry ghosts, the demigod worlds, and the animal worlds. Each of these is believed to be limited and inferior to obtaining another body in the material world. This is because they exist mostly to receive good or bad karma (the results of previous actions), and are not considered places to create new karma.
The Bardo of Rebirth consists of a series of images determined by the soul’s karma that lead to psychic portals that draw the soul into a womb. The soul’s reaction to those karmic images determines which portal the soul enters and in which womb the soul ends up. The Tibetan tradition gives detailed advice on which representations to choose and which to avoid in order to gain a desirable rebirth. Once reborn, the karma of impulse manifests to influence the person’s actions and reactions in their new life.
The average person is said to spend a period of about forty-five days in the second Bardo. However, passionate souls with strong desires or those responsible for evil acts in their most recent life are said to reincarnate almost immediately. In exceptional cases, the individual can stay in the Bardo state for longer periods, and be drawn into its currents awaiting rebirth.