Just as when the Ground Luminosity dawned at the

moment of death, here too in the bardo of dharmata, liberation

cannot be taken for granted. When the brilliant light of

wisdom shines out, it is accompanied by a display of simple,

comforting, cozy sounds and lights, less challenging and overwhelming

than the light of wisdom. These dim lights—smoky,

yellow, green, blue, red, and white—are our habitual, unconscious

tendencies accumulated by anger, greed, ignorance,

desire, jealousy, and pride. These are the emotions that create

the six realms of samsara: hell, hungry ghost, animal, human,

demigod, and god realms, respectively.

If we have not recognized and stabilized the dharmata

nature of mind in life, we are instinctively drawn toward the

dim lights of the six realms, as the basic tendency toward

grasping, which we have built up during life, begins to stir and

awaken. Threatened by the dynamic brilliance of wisdom, the

mind retreats. The cozy lights, the invitation of our habitual

tendencies, lure us toward a rebirth, determined by the particular

negative emotion that dominates our karma and our


Let us take an example of the appearance of one of the peaceful

buddhas from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which will illustrate

this whole process. The master or spiritual friend

addresses the consciousness of the dead person:

O son/daughter of an enlightened family, listen without distraction!

On the third day, a yellow light will arise which is the pure

essence of the element earth. Simultaneously, from the yellow

southern buddha-field known as "The Glorious," the Buddha

Ratnasambhava will appear before you, his body yellow in color,

and holding a wish-fulfilling jewel in his hand. He presides upon

a throne borne up by horses and is embraced by the supreme

female consort, Mamaki. Around him are the two male bodhisattvas,

Akashagarbha and Samantabhadra, 4 and the two

female bodhisattvas, Mala and Dhupa, so that six buddha bodies

appear from within the expanse of rainbow light.

The inherent purity of the skandha of feeling—which is the.

"equalizing wisdom"—a yellow light, dazzling and adorned with

ikiés of light, large and small, radiant and clear, and unbearable to

the eyes, will stream toward you from the heart of Ratnasambhava

and his consort, and pierce your heart so that your eyes cannot

stand to gaze at it.

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