that occurs for everyone, but there are very few who can

even notice it, let alone experience it completely, as it can

only be recognized by a trained practitioner. This bardo of

dharmata corresponds to the period after falling asleep and

before dreams begin.

Of course the bardos of death are much deeper states of

consciousness than the sleep and dream states, and far more

powerful moments, but their relative levels of subtlety correspond

and show the kind of links and parallels that exist

between all the different levels of consciousness. Masters often

use this particular comparison to show just how difficult it is

to maintain awareness during the bardo states. How many of

us are aware of the change in consciousness when we fall

asleep? Or of the moment of sleep before dreams begin? How

many of us are aware even when we dream that we are

dreaming? Imagine, then, how difficult it will be to remain

aware during the turmoil of the bardos of death.

How your mind is in the sleep and dream state indicates

how your mind will be in the corresponding bardo states; for

example, the way in which you react to dreams, nightmares,

and difficulties now shows how you might react after you die.

This is why the yoga of sleep and dream plays such an

important part in the preparation for death. What a real practitioner

seeks to do is to keep, unfailing and unbroken, his or

her awareness of the nature of mind throughout day and

night, and so use directly the different phases of sleep and

dream to recognize and become familiar with what will happen

in the bardos during and after death.

So we find two other bardos often included within the natural

bardo of this life: the bardo of sleep and dream, and the

bardo of meditation. Meditation is the practice of the daytime,

and sleep and dream yoga the practices of the night. In the tradition

to which the Tibetan Book of the Dead belongs, these two

are added to the Four Bardos to make a series of Six Bardos.


Each of the bardos has its own unique set of instructions

and meditation practices, which are directed precisely to those

realities and their particular states of mind. This is how the

spiritual practices and training designed for each of the bardo

states can enable us to make the fullest possible use of them

and of their opportunities for liberation. The essential point to

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