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

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

294 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING

only when we see that we cast no shadow, make no reflection

in the mirror, no footprints on the ground, that finally we

realize. And the sheer shock of recognizing we have died can

be enough to make us faint away.

In the bardo of becoming we relive all the experiences of

our past life, reviewing minute details long lost to memory,

and revisiting places, the masters say, "where we did no more

than spit on the ground." Every seven days we are compelled

to go through the experience of death once again, with all its

suffering. If our death was peaceful, that peaceful state of

mind is repeated; if it was tormented, however, that torment

is repeated too. And remember that this is with a consciousness

seven times more intense than that of life, and that in the

fleeting period of the bardo of becoming, all the negative

karma of previous lives is returning, in a fiercely concentrated

and deranging way.

Our restless, solitary wandering through the bardo world is

as frantic as a nightmare, and just as in a dream, we believe

we have a physical body and that we really exist. Yet all the

experiences of this bardo arise only from our mind, created by

our karma and habits returning.

The winds of the elements return, and as Tulku Urgyen

Rinpoche says, "One hears loud sounds caused by the four

elements of earth, water, fire, and wind. There is the sound of

an avalanche continuously falling behind one, the sound of a

great rushing river, the sound of a huge blazing mass of fire

like a volcano, and the sound of a great storm." 4 Trying to

escape them in the terrifying darkness, it is said that three different

abysses, white, red, and black, "deep and dreadful,"

open up in front of us. These, the Tibetan Book of the Dead tells

us, are our own anger, desire, and ignorance. We are assailed

by freezing downpours, hailstorms of pus and blood; haunted

by the sound of disembodied, menacing cries; hounded by

flesh-eating demons and carnivorous beasts.

We are swept along relentlessly by the wind of karma,

unable to hold onto any ground. The Tibetan Book of the Dead

says: "At this time, the great tornado of karma, terrifying,

unbearable, whirling fiercely, will drive you from behind."

Consumed by fear, blown to and fro like dandelion seeds in

the wind, we roam, helpless, through the gloom of the bardo.

Tormented by hunger and thirst, we seek refuge here and

there. Our mind's perceptions change every moment, projecting

us, "like out of a catapult," says the Tibetan Book of the

Dead, into alternate states of sorrow or joy. Into our minds

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