USEFUL KNOWLEDGE FOR FUTURE USE
5th June 2010
Learn to die and you shall learn to live. No one will learn to live
who has not learned to die. The Book of the Craft of Dying (Comperís edition), 15th century work
from 1917 reprint)
[Redacted from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Evans-Wentz version,
1927, pp. 28-39.] The book of liberation by hearing.
From the moment of death and for 3 1/2 to 4 days afterwards, the
Knower ó or principle of consciousness ó in the case of the ordinary
person who dies, is believed to be in a sleep or trance state,
unaware, as a rule, that it has been separated from the human plane
body. This is the first bardo, or transitional state at the moment of
death, wherein dawns the Clear Light ó first in primordial purity.
The percipient, being unable to recognize it ó that is to say, to hold
onto and remain in the transcendental state of the unmodified mind
concomitant with it ó perceives it shrouded in karma, which is its
secondary aspect. Karma is the effect your deeds and thoughts have had
on your life.
When the first bardo ends, the Knower, awakening to the fact that
death has occurred, enters the second bardo, or the transitional state
of glimpsing reality, and this merges into the third bardo, or the
transitional state of seeking rebirth, which ends when the principle
of consciousness has taken rebirth in the human or some other world,
or in one of the paradise realms.
[Can you imagine how strongly your consciousness will yearn for this
wonderful thing called life once it knows it has been separated from
the body that gave it this life?]
The passing from one bardo to another is analagous to the process of
birth. The Knower awakes from one swoon or trance state and then
another until the third bardo ends. On his awakening in the second
bardo there dawn on him symbolic visions, one by one, the
hallucinations created by the karmic reflexes of actions done by him
in the earth-plane body. What he has thought and what he has done
become objective: every scene of your life parades past in a solemn
and mighty panorama.
In the second bardo, the deceased is, unless otherwise enlightened,
more or less under the delusion that although he is deceased he still
possesses a body like the body of flesh and blood. When he comes to
realize that really he has no such body, he begins to develop an
overmastering desire to possess one. His karmic predilection for
sangsaric  existence becomes the only goal, and he enters into the
third bardo of seeking rebirth in this or some other world, and his
after death state comes to an end.
For most, this is the normal process. The most enlightened of men may
rise directly into the paradise realm. Some may reincarnate
immediately, never losing consciousness. A manís thoughts are the same
as his actions, both here and hereafter. Thoughts are the parents of
all actions; as the sowing has been, so the harvest shall be.
If escape from the intermediate state is not achieved, through rebirth
into some other state ó that of Hell being possible for the very
exceptional evildoer, though not for the ordinary person, who expiates
normal moral delinquencies upon being reborn as a human being.
We are the victims of our very own desires, cultivated and exploited
by the profitmakers to the point where we have fatally poisoned
ourselves. It is a common cause of death of civilizations throughout
the universe, as well as a common cause of the death of individuals in
all civilizations that have not realized that the point of living is
how you die, and how many other souls mourn your passing, realizing
that they will no longer be graced by all the wonderful things you
have done for them.
For 49 days, more or less, the deceased is immersed in the karmic
illusions of the bardo, blissful or miserable, as the case may be, and
progress is impossible.
Because only the great teachers ever attain immediate nirvana upon
passing, the only hope for the ordinary person of reaching Buddhahood
lies in being reborn as a human being. Anything else would be going
away from your goal of everlasting peace.
You will have visions. The Peaceful Deities are the personified forms
of the sublimest human sentiments, which proceed from your psychic
heart. The heart always comes in peace. But because we are not
perfect, these soon give way to the doubts that creep out from your
fear-driven psychic brain, and the Peaceful Deities become the
Wrathful Deities, and you will suffer mightily.
Right about this time, the intellect reemerges and the only thought
becomes how can I regain this thing I have just lost.
The deceased human being becomes the sole spectator of a marvellous
panorama of hallucinatory visions; each see of thought in his
consciousness content karmically revives; and he, like a wonderstruck
child watching moving pictures cast upon a screen, looks on, unaware,
unless previously an adept at yoga, of the nonreality of what he sees
dawn and set.
At first, the happy and glorious vision born of the seeds of the
impulses and aspirations of the higher or divine nature awe the
uninitiated; then, as they merge into the visions born of the
corresponding mental elements of the lower or animal nature, they
terrify him, and he wishes to flee from them; but alas, wherever he
tries to flee they always follow him because they are him.
It is not necessary to suppose that all the dead in the intermediate
state experience the same phenomena any more than all the living do in
the human world, or in dreams.
As a man is taught, so he believes. Thoughts being things, they may be
planted like seeds in the mind of a child and completely dominate his
mental content. Given the favourable soil of the will to believe,
whether the seed thoughts be sound or unsound, whether they be pure
superstition or of realizable truth, they take root and flourish, and
make a man what he is mentally.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead seems to be based on verifiable data of
human physiological and and psychological experiences; and it views
the problem of the after-death state as a purely psycho-physical
problem; and is, therefore, in the main, scientific. It asserts
repeatedly that what the percipient on the bardo plane sees is due
entirely to his own mental content; that there are no visions of gods
and demons, of heavens or of hells, other than those born of
hallucinatory karmic thoughtforms that make up his personality, which
is an impermanent product arising from the thirst for existence, and
from the will to live and believe.
The whole aim of the Tibetan Book of the Dead is to cause the dreamer
to awaken into reality, freed from all the shackles of karmic or
sangsaric illusions, far beyond all phenomenal paradises, heavens,
hells, purgatories or worlds of embodiment. In this way, it is like no
other book in the world.
Since coming back real soon is chancy given the situation thatís
developing on this planet for the next several hundred years, you
might want to go for the Light if you get the chance. I hear itís nice
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