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

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

EIGHTThis Life: The Natural BardoLET US EXPLORE the first of the Four Bardos, the naturalbardo of this life, and all its many implications; then wewill proceed to explore the other three bardos in the appropriatetime and order. The natural bardo of this life spans thewhole of our lifetime between birth and death. Its teachingsmake clear to us why this bardo is such a precious opportunity,what it really means to be a human being, and what isthe most important and only truly essential thing for us to dowith the gift of this human life.The masters tell us that there is an aspect of our minds thatis its fundamental basis, a state called "the ground of the ordinarymind." Longchenpa, the outstanding fourteenth-centuryTibetan master, describes it in this way: "It is unenlightenmentand a neutral state, which belongs to the category of mindand mental events, and it has become the foundation of allkarmas and 'traces' of samsara and nirvana." 1 It functions likea storehouse, in which the imprints of past actions caused byour negative emotions are all stored like seeds. When the rightconditions arise, they germinate and manifest as circumstancesand situations in our lives.Imagine this ground of the ordinary mind as being like abank in which karma is deposited as imprints and habitualtendencies. If we have a habit of thinking in a particular pattern,positive or negative, then these tendencies will be triggeredand provoked very easily, and recur and go on recurring.With constant repetition our inclinations and habits becomesteadily more entrenched, and go on continuing, increasing,and gathering power, even when we sleep. This is how theycome to determine our life, our death, and our rebirth.We often wonder: "How will I be when I die?" The answerto that is that whatever state of mind we are in now, whateverkind of person we are now: that's what we will be like at the115

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