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

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

280 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING

advanced practice of luminosity, Tögal, can the true significance

of the bardo of dharmata be in any real sense understood.

The bardo of dharmata, then, figures with far less

prominence in other cycles of teachings on death in the

Tibetan tradition. Even in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which

also belongs to the Dzogchen teachings, the sequence of these

four phases is only implicit, as if slightly hidden, and does not

appear there in such a clear and ordered structure.

I must stress, however, that all words could possibly do is

give some conceptual picture of what might happen in the

bardo of dharmata. The appearances of this bardo will remain

just conceptual images until the practitioner has perfected the

Tögal practice, when each detail of the description I am about

to give becomes an undeniable personal experience. What I

am trying to give you here is some sense that such a marvelous

and amazing dimension could exist, and to complete

my description of the whole of the bardos. I also profoundly

hope that this complete description could act perhaps as some

kind of reminder when you go through the process of death.

1. Luminosity—The Landscape of Light

In the bardo of dharmata, you take on a body of light. The

first phase of this bardo is when "space dissolves into luminosity":

Suddenly you become aware of a flowing vibrant world of

sound, light, and color. All the ordinary features of our familiar

environment have melted into an all-pervasive landscape of

light. This is brilliantly clear and radiant, transparent and multicolored,

unlimited by any kind of dimension or direction,

shimmering and constantly in motion. The Tibetan Book of the

Dead calls it "like a mirage on a plain in the heat of summer."

Its colors are the natural expression of the intrinsic elemental

qualities of the mind: space is perceived as blue light, water as

white, earth as yellow, fire as red, and wind as green.

How stable these dazzling appearances of light are in the

bardo of dharmata depends entirely upon what stability you

have managed to attain in Tögal practice. Only a real mastery

of this practice will enable you to stabilize the experience and

so use it to gain liberation. Otherwise the bardo of dharmata

will simply flash by like a bolt of lightning; you will not even

know that it has occurred. Let me stress again that only a

practitioner of Tögal will be able to make the all-important

recognition: that these radiant manifestations of light have no

existence separate from the nature of mind.

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