INTRINSIC RADIANCE 283 to the experiences of the bardo of dharmata. These are not solar days of twenty-four hours, because in the sphere of dharmata we have gone completely beyond all limits such as time and space. These days are "meditation days," and refer to the length of time we have been able to rest undistracted in the nature of mind, or in one single state of mind. With no stability in meditation practice, these days could be minutely short, and the appearance of the peaceful and wrathful deities so fleeting that we cannot even register they have arisen. UNDERSTANDING DHARMATA Now when the bardo of dharmata dawns upon me, I will abandon all fear and terror, I will recognize whatever appears as the display of my own Rigpa, And know it to be the natural appearance of this bardo; Now that I have reached this crucial point, I will not fear the peaceful and wrathful deities, that arise from the nature of my very own mind. The key to understanding this bardo is that all the experiences that take place in it are the natural radiance of the nature of our mind. What is happening is that different aspects of its enlightened energy are being released. Just as the dancing rainbows of light scattered by a crystal are its natural display, so too the dazzling appearances of dharmata cannot be separated from the nature of mind. They are its spontaneous expression. So however terrifying the appearances may be, says the TibetanBookof the Dead, they have no more claim on your fear than a stuffed lion. Strictly speaking, however, it would be wrong to call these appearances "visions" or even "experiences," because vision and experience depend upon a dualistic relationship between a perceiver and something perceived. If we can recognize the appearances of the bardo of dharmata as the wisdom energy of our very own mind, there is no difference between perceiver and perceived, and this is an experience of non-duality. To enter into that experience completely is to attain liberation. For, as Kalu Rinpoche says, "Liberation arises at that moment in the after-death state when consciousness can realize its experiences to be nothing other than mind itself." 2 However, now that we are no longer grounded or shielded by a physical body or world, the energies of the nature of mind released in the bardo state can look overwhelmingly real,
284 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING and appear to take on an objective existence. They seem to inhabit the world outside of us. And without the stability of practice, we have no knowledge of anything that is non-dual, that is not dependent on our own perception. Once we mistake the appearances as separate from us, as "external visions," we respond with fear or hope, which leads us into delusion. Just as in the dawning of the Ground Luminosity recognition was the key to liberation, so here in the bardo of dharmata it is also. Only here it is the recognition of the self-radiance of Rigpa, the manifesting energy of the nature of mind, that makes the difference between liberation or continuing in an uncontrolled cycle of rebirth. Take, for example, the appearances of the hundred peaceful and wrathful deities, which occur in the second phase of this bardo. These consist of the buddhas of the five buddha families, their female counterparts, male and female bodhisattvas, the buddhas of the six realms, and a number of wrathful and protective deities. All emerge amidst the brilliant light of the five wisdoms. How are we to understand these buddhas or deities? "Each one of these pure forms expresses an enlightened perspective of a part of our impure experience." 3 The five masculine buddhas are the pure aspect of the five aggregates of ego. Their five wisdoms are the pure aspect of the five negative emotions. The five female buddhas are the pure elemental qualities of mind, which we experience as the impure elements of our physical body and environment. The eight bodhisattvas are the pure aspect of the different types of consciousness, and their female counterparts are the objects of these consciousnesses. Whether the pure vision of the buddha families and their wisdoms manifests, or the impure vision of the aggregates and negative emotions arises, they are intrinsically the same in their fundamental nature. The difference lies in how we recognize them, and whether we recognize that they emerge from the ground of the nature of mind as its enlightened energy. Take, for example, what manifests in our ordinary mind as a thought of desire; if its true nature is recognized, it arises, free of grasping, as the "wisdom of discernment." Hatred and anger, when truly recognized, arise as diamond-like clarity, free of grasping; this is the "mirror-like wisdom." When ignorance is recognized, it arises as vast and natural clarity without concepts: the "wisdom of all-encompassing space." Pride, when recognized, is realized as non-duality and equality: the "equalizing wisdom." jealousy, when recognized, is freed from partiality and grasping, and arises as the "all-accomplishing wisdom."