The shifting and precarious nature of the bardo of becoming

can also be the source of many opportunities for liberation,

and the susceptibility of mind in this bardo can be turned to

our advantage. All we have to do is remember one instruction;

all it needs is for one positive thought to spring into our mind.

If we can recall any teaching that has inspired us to the nature

of mind, if we have even one good inclination toward practice,

or a deep connection with a spiritual practice, then that

alone can free us.

In the bardo of becoming, the buddha realms do not appear

spontaneously as they do in the bardo of dharmata. Just by

remembering them, however, you can transfer yourself there

directly by the power of your mind, and proceed toward

enlightenment. It is said that if you can invoke a buddha, he

will immediately appear before you. But remember, even

though the possibilities are limitless, we must have at least

some, if not total, control over our mind in this bardo; and

this is extremely difficult, because the mind here is so vulnerable,

fragmented, and restless.

So in this bardo, whenever you can suddenly retrieve your

awareness, even for a moment, immediately recall your connection

with spiritual practice, remember your master or buddha,

and invoke them with all your strength. If in life you

have developed the natural reflex of praying whenever things

become difficult or critical, or slip beyond your control, then

instantly you will be able to invoke or call to mind an enlightened

being, such as Buddha or Padmasambhava, Tara or

Avalokiteshvara, Christ or the Virgin Mary. If you are able to

invoke them fervently with one-pointed devotion, and with all

your heart, then through the power of their blessing, your

mind will be liberated into the space of their wisdom mind.

Prayer in this life may seem sometimes to bring little result,

but its effects in the bardo are unprecedentedly powerful.

Yet the description I have given you of the bardo shows

the sheer difficulty of focusing the mind at this juncture, if we

have had no previous training. Think how almost impossible

it is to remember something like a prayer in a dream or nightmare,

how impotent and powerless we feel in them; in the

bardo of becoming it is just as hard, if not harder, to collect

our thoughts at all. This is why the watchword of the Tibetan

Book of the Dead, repeated over and over again, is: "Do not be

distracted." As it points out:

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