He will give his angels charge of you,
To guard you in all your ways.
вторник, 27 ноември 2012 г.
Bardo Thödol (The Tibetan Book of the Dead)
text on the art of dying. Tibetan Buddhism evolved from
the shamanistic Bön into Tantric Buddhism beginning
in the 8th century. In Tibetan thought, the process of
right dying is as important as right living. A high form of yoga—a spiritual discipline of meditation—has developed
over the centuries to speed the ghosts of the dead on their
AFTERLIFE spiritual journey and enable them to be conscious
of the experiences waiting to greet them.
The Bardo Thödol, the Tibetan handbook on dying,
the afterlife, and rebirth, is of remote antiquity. There
are no known authors; more than likely, it was honed
and refi ned over the course of history. It was fi rst written
down in the eighth century C.E.
The central objective of Tibetan death rites is to extract
the consciousness-principle from the gross physical body
so that it can truly perceive the spiritual world. Following
death, the spirit enters a transit that lasts exactly 49 days
and is divided into three stages. At the end of the Bardo,
one either enters nirvana, an ineffable state, or returns to
earth for another REINCARNATION. Only the most enlightened
It is of paramount importance that the dying person
remain fully conscious for as long as possible, for the last
thoughts of the dying infl uence the quality of the afterdeath
experience and the subsequent reincarnation. He is
laid on his right side, called the “Lion Posture,” and his
neck arteries are pressed to prevent loss of consciousness.
The dying person is guided by a guru or lama, who advises
him on what to prepare for. If the person is wealthy, many
lamas assist; if he is poor, only one assists, and rites are
terminated partway through the 49-day Bardo.
The fi rst stage of the Bardo commences at the moment
of death and lasts from a half day to four days; this is how
long it takes for the deceased to realize he has been separated
from his body. As soon as the individual expires, a
white cloth is thrown over his face, and no one is allowed
to touch the corpse. All doors and windows are sealed,
and the “extractor of consciousness-principle” lama takes
up his vigil by the corpse’s head. No grieving is permitted.
The lama takes up a mystical chant which provides
directions for the deceased to fi nd its way to the Western
Paradise of Amitabha. If the person’s karma is good
enough, this will enable him to escape the ordeal of the
intermediate period of the Bardo. Tha lama examines the
top of the head to determine if the spirit has exited as it
should through the “Aperture of Brahma”; if so, he pulls
out three hairs, if the head is not bald. If circumstances
are such that there is no corpse, the lama visualizes the
body as though present, and proceeds with the rites. A
setting-face-to-face with the Clear Light is repeated until
a yellowish liquid exudes from body orifi ces. In some
descriptions, it is a yellowish luminosity, like an aura. If
the deceased led an evil life, this state lasts but a moment.
If enlightened, it lasts for an hour or so.
An astrologer lama casts a death horoscope, based on
the moment of death, to determine who may touch the
corpse, how it will be disposed of, and what funeral rites
should be performed.
At the end of the fi rst stage, the corpse is seated
upright in a corner of the death chamber. Care is taken
not to use one of the corners assigned to the household
demon. The relatives are summoned and a feast ensues, in
which the corpse participates by being offered the invisible
essences of all food and drink. The feast lasts for at
least two days.
The corpse is then removed for disposal, and an effi gy
of the corpse is made of wood and dressed in the clothes
of the deceased. For the remainder of the Bardo, it stays in
the corner, attended by the lamas who chant by relays the
various liturgies at the appropriate time. At the end of the
Bardo, the effi gy is hung with ornaments and dismantled,
and the ghost of the dead is warned not to return to haunt
The corpse, meanwhile, is given a funeral. Tibetans
favor cremation, as they believe earth burial can cause the
dead one to survive as a VAMPIRE. Another favored means
is to dismember the corpse and leave it to the BIRDS.
At the moment of death, the spirit sees the primary
Clear Light, an ecstasy. All persons get at least a glimpse
of the Clear Light, but the more enlightened can see it
longer and transcend to a higher reality. Most relapse into
the Secondary Clear Light, a lesser ecstasy.
The second stage is like an awakening, in which the
spirit is presented with hallucinations created by karmic
refl exes of actions done while alive. Unless enlightened,
the spirit is under the illusion that it still has a body like
the one that died. There begins a series of apparitions,
the Coming of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities, or personifi
cations of human sentiment, which must be faced
without fl inching. Most escape the second stage through
rebirth, the third stage; the circumstances of rebirth are
determined by past karma.
The most enlightened of yogis are said to bypass all
of the Bardo, going directly to a paradise realm or else
directly into another body in rebirth without any loss of
consciousness. Yoga during life prepares one for the afterdeath