showing with total clarity the actual process of death, the

actual process of life as well.

Let us look now again at what happens to a person who

dies, at each of the three crucial stages of death:

1. At the culmination of the process of dying, after the dissolution

of elements, senses, and thought states, the ultimate

nature of mind, the Ground Luminosity, is for a moment laid


2. Then, fleetingly, the radiance of that nature of mind is

displayed and shines out in appearances of sound, colors, and


3. Next the dead person's consciousness awakens and

enters into the bardo of becoming; his or her ordinary mind

returns, and takes on a manifestation—the form of the mental

body—subject to the dictates of past karma and habits. These

drive the ordinary mind to cling onto the illusory bardo experiences

as something real and solid.

So what do the bardo teachings show us that death is?

Nothing less than three phases of a process of gradual manifestation

of mind: from out of its very purest state of the

essential nature of mind, through light and energy (the radiance

of the nature of mind), and into increasing crystallization

into a mental form. What unravels with such clarity in the

bardo of dying, the bardo of dharmata, and the bardo of

becoming, the teachings show us, is a threefold process: first,

enfoldment leading to laying bare; second, spontaneous radiance;

and third, crystallization and manifestation.

The teachings draw us to go further. What they in fact

show us—and I think this is a truly revolutionary insight, one

that, when it is understood, changes our view of everything—

is that this threefold pattern does not only unfold in the process

of dying and death: It is unfolding now, at this moment, at

every moment, within our mind, in our thoughts and emotions,

and at every single level of our conscious experience.

Another way the teachings offer us of understanding this

process is by looking at what is revealed at each phase of dying

and death. The teachings speak of three levels of being, to

which the Sanskrit name kaya is given. This word kaya literally

means "body," but signifies here dimension, field, or basis.

So let us look now at the threefold process from this perspective:

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