The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

SEVEN

Bardos and Other Realities

BARDO IS A TIBETAN WORD that simply means a

"transition" or a gap between the completion of one situation

and the onset of another. Bar means "in between," and do

means "suspended" or "thrown." Bardo is a word made

famous by the popularity of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Since

its first translation into English in 1927, this book has aroused

enormous interest among psychologists, writers, and philosophers

in the West, and has sold millions of copies.

The title Tibetan Book of the Dead was coined by its compiler

and editor, the American scholar W. Y. Evans-Wentz, in

imitation of the famous (and equally mistitled) Egyptian Book

of the Dead. 1 The actual name of the book is Bardo Tödrol

Chenmo, which means the "Great Liberation Through Hearing

in the Bardo." Bardo teachings are extremely ancient and

found in what are called the Dzogchen Tantras. 2 These teachings

have a lineage stretching back beyond human masters to

the Primordial Buddha (called in Sanskrit Samantabhadra, and

in Tibetan Kuntuzangpo), who represents the absolute, naked,

sky-like primordial purity of the nature of our mind. But the

Bardo Tödrol Chenmo itself is part of one large cycle of teachings

handed down by the master Padmasambhava and

revealed in the fourteenth century by the Tibetan visionary

Karma Lingpa.

The Great Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo, the Tibetan

Book of the Dead, is a unique book of knowledge. It is a kind

of guide book or a travelogue of the after-death states, which

is designed to be read by a master or spiritual friend to a person

as the person dies, and after death. In Tibet there are said

to be "Five Methods for Attaining Enlightenment Without

Meditation": on seeing a great master or sacred object; on wearing

specially blessed drawings of mandalas with sacred

mantras; on tasting sacred nectars, consecrated by the masters

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