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

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

BARDOS AND OTHER REALITIES 107through special intensive practice; on remembering the transferenceof consciousness, the phowa, at the moment of death;and on hearing certain profound teachings, such as the GreatLiberation Through Hearing in the Bardo.The Tibetan Book of the Dead is destined for a practitioner orsomeone familiar with its teachings. For a modern reader it isextremely difficult to penetrate, and raises a lot of questionsthat simply cannot be answered without some knowledge ofthe tradition that gave birth to it. This is especially the casesince the book cannot be fully understood and used withoutknowing the unwritten oral instructions that a master transmitsto a disciple, and which are the key to its practice.In this book, then, I am setting the teachings, which theWest has become familiar with through the Tibetan Book of theDead, in a very much larger and more comprehensive context.BARDOSBecause of the popularity of the Tibetan Book of the Dead,people usually associate the word bardo with death. It is truethat "bardo" is used in everyday speech among Tibetans forthe intermediate state between death and rebirth, but it has amuch wider and deeper meaning. It is in the bardo teachings,perhaps more than anywhere else, that we can see just howprofound and all-encompassing the buddhas' knowledge oflife and death is, and how inseparable what we have called"life" and what we have called "death" truly are, when seenand understood clearly from the perspective of enlightenment.We can divide the whole of our existence into four realities:life, dying and death, after-death, and rebirth. These are theFour Bardos:• the "natural" bardo of this life• the "painful" bardo of dying• the "luminous" bardo of dharmata• the "karmic" bardo of becoming1. The natural bardo of this life spans the entire periodbetween birth and death. In our present state of knowledge,this may seem more than just a bardo, a transition. But if wethink about it, it will become clear that, compared to the enormouslength and duration of our karmic history, the time wespend in this life is in fact relatively short. The teachings tellus emphatically that the bardo of this life is the only, and

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