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

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

THE BARDO OF BECOMING 297

The overwhelming power of thought, then, is the key issue

in the bardo of becoming. This crucial moment finds us completely

exposed to whatever habits and tendencies we have

allowed to grow and dominate our lives. If you don't check

those habits and tendencies now in life, and prevent them

from seizing hold of your mind, then in the bardo of becoming

you will be their helpless victim, buffeted to and fro by

their power. The slightest irritation, for example, in the bardo

of becoming can have a devastating effect, and that is why

traditionally the person reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead

had to be someone with whom you had a good connection; if

not, the very sound of his or her voice could infuriate you,

with the most disastrous consequences.

The teachings give us many descriptions of the rawness of

the mind in the bardo of becoming; the most striking of these

says that our mind in this bardo is like a flaming red-hot iron

bar that can be bent in whichever way you want until it

cools, when whatever form it finds itself in rapidly solidifies.

In just the same way, it is said, a single positive thought in

this bardo can lead directly to enlightenment, and a single negative

reaction can plunge you into the most prolonged and

extreme suffering. The Tibetan Book of the Dead could not warn

us more strongly:

Now is the time which is the borderline between going up and

going down; now is the time when by slipping into laziness even

for a moment you will endure constant suffering; now is the time

when by concentrating for an instant you will enjoy constant happiness.

Focus your mind single-mindedly; strive to prolong the

results of good karma!

The Tibetan Book of the Dead tries to awaken any connection

with spiritual practice the dead person may have had, and it

encourages us: to give up attachment to people and possessions,

to abandon yearning for a body, not to give in to desire

or anger, to cultivate kindness rather than hostility, and not

even to contemplate negative actions. It reminds the dead person

there is no need to fear: On the one hand, it tells them

that the terrifying bardo figures are nothing more than their

own deluded projections and by nature empty; and on the

other hand, that they themselves have only "a mental body of

habitual tendencies," and are therefore empty too. "So emptiness

cannot harm emptiness."

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