Some accounts of the bardo describe a judgment scene, a

kind of life-review similar to the post-mortem judgment found

in many of the world's cultures. Your good conscience, a

white guardian angel, acts as your defense counsel, recounting

the beneficial things you have done, while your bad conscience,

a black demon, submits the case for the prosecution.

Good and bad are totalled up as white and black pebbles. The

"Lord of Death," who presides, then consults the mirror of

karma and makes his judgment. 5

I feel that in this judgment scene there are some interesting

parallels with the life-review of the near-death experience. Ultimately

all judgment takes place within our own mind. We are the judge

and the judged. "It is interesting to note," said Raymond Moody,

"that the judgment in the cases I studied came not from the

being of light, who seemed to love and accept these people

anyway, but rather from within the individual being judged." 6

A woman who went through a near-death experience told

Kenneth Ring: "You are shown your life—and you do the

judging... You are judging yourself. You have been forgiven

all your sins, but are you able to forgive yourself for not doing

the things you should have done, and some little cheating

things that maybe you've done in life? Can you forgive yourself?

This is the judgment." 7

The judgment scene also shows that what really counts, in

the final analysis, is the motivation behind our every action,

and that there is no escaping the effects of our past actions,

words, and thoughts and the imprints and habits they have

stamped us with. It means that we are entirely responsible,

not only for this life, but for our future lives as well.


As our mind is so light, mobile, and vulnerable in the

bardo, whatever thoughts arise, good or bad, have tremendous

power and influence. Without a physical body to ground us,

thoughts actually become reality. Imagine the sharp grief and

anger we might feel on seeing a funeral service performed

carelessly on our behalf, or greedy relatives squabbling over

our possessions, or friends we loved deeply, and thought had

loved us, talking about us in a sneering or hurtful or simply

condescending way. Such a situation could be very dangerous,

because our reaction, in its violence, could drive us directly

toward an unfortunate rebirth.

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