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

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

288 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGThis description of the appearance of the BuddhaRatnasambhava concludes by explaining that through this"showing" by the master or spiritual friend, liberation is certain,however weak the dead person's capacities may be. Yet,even after being "shown" many times, the Tibetan Book of theDead says, there are those who, because of negative karma,will not recognize and gain liberation. Disturbed by desire andobscurations and terrified by the different sounds and lights,they will flee. So, on the following "day," the next buddha,Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Light, with his mandala ofdeities, will appear in all the splendor of his dazzling red light,manifesting together with the dim, seductive, yellow light-pathof the hungry ghosts, which is created out of desire andmeanness. And so the Tibetan Book of the Dead introduces theappearance of each of the peaceful and wrathful deities in turnin a similar way.I am often asked: "Will the deities appear to a Westernperson? And if so, will it be in familiar, Western forms?"The manifestations of the bardo of dharmata are called"spontaneously present." This means that they are inherentand unconditioned, and exist in us all. Their arising is notdependent on any spiritual realization we may have; only therecognition of them is. They are not unique to Tibetans; theyare a universal and fundamental experience, but the way theyare perceived depends on our conditioning. Since they are bynature limitless, they have the freedom then to manifest inany form.Therefore the deities can take on forms we are most familiarwith in our lives. For example, for Christian practitioners,the deities might take the form of Christ or the Virgin Mary.Generally, the whole purpose of the enlightened manifestationof the buddhas is to help us, so they may take on whateverform is most appropriate and beneficial for us. But in whateverform the deities appear, it is important to recognize thatthere is definitely no difference whatsoever in their fundamentalnature.RECOGNITIONIn Dzogchen it is explained that just as a person will notrecognize the Ground Luminosity without a true realization ofthe nature of mind and a stable experience of Trekchö prac-

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