The Bardo of Becoming

THE EXPERIENCE OF DEATH, for most people, will

simply mean passing into a state of oblivion at the end of the

process of dying. The three stages of the inner dissolution can

be as quick, it is sometimes said, as three snaps of a finger.

The white and red essences of father and mother meet at the

heart, and the black experience called "full attainment" arises.

The Ground Luminosity dawns, but we fail to recognize it

and we faint into unconsciousness.

As I have said, this is the first failure to recognize, or stage

of ignorance, called Ma Rigpa in Tibetan, the opposite of

Rigpa. This marks the beginning in us of another cycle of samsara,

which was interrupted for an instant at the moment of

death. The bardo of dharmata then occurs, and it simply

flashes past, unrecognized. This is the second failure of recognition,

a second stage of ignorance, Ma Rigpa.

The first thing that we are aware of is "as if the sky and

earth were separating again": We suddenly awaken into the

intermediate state that lies between death and a new rebirth.

This is called the bardo of becoming, the sipa bardo, and is the

third bardo of death.

With our failure to recognize the Ground Luminosity and

our failure to recognize the bardo of dharmata, the seeds of all

our habitual tendencies are activated and reawakened. The

bardo of becoming spans the time between their reawakening

and our entering the womb of the next life.

The word sipa in sipa bardo, which is translated as "becoming,"

also means "possibility" and "existence." In the sipa

bardo, as the mind is no longer limited and obstructed by the

physical body of this world, the "possibilities" are infinite for

"becoming" reborn in different realms. And this bardo has the

outer "existence" of the mental body and the inner "existence"

of the mind.


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