sinks in a deep slumber
lull of the water
between sudden arrests
slips in the shimmering abyss
What happens exactly as you die? In the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying Sogyal Rinpoche explains it through the idea/ thought of bardo. “Bardo” means “inbetween” and its a kind of transition-mode. Let us look further in the depth of the meaning of bardo, maybe than we can understand it 100%.
Through the chinks comes the light
The original meaning of bardo is, the space between the moment of dying and reincarnation / rebirth. As we ‘dive’ deeper into this matter than we discover more than one bardo. Let’s go …
First there is the bardo of living and dying. This is a painful bardo, but also the moment that the nature of spirit / soul becomes real and in a way breaks through the armor of the body. This we can see in, for example, the story of Easter as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane and asks His Father, God, to take away the cup of poison. Than He is arrested and indures the pain of 39 lashes and the crucifixion. As He dies He commands His Spirit to His Father. This is what we can call the bardo of living and dying.
What follows is the bardo which is called the shining bardo or dharmata, the state of consciousness / mind after death. To explain this shining bardo, wasn’t easy, because I could not find something to explain it with. Than I got a revelation. This shining bardo you can see as a bright light, the radiation of the pure nature of spirit / mind. It’s a state of pure happiness. In a way this you can see as what is happening as you (someone) has a Near Death Experience (NDE). I ran into a few stories about NDE when I was preparing these episodes. As you read the reports about NDE than everyone sees a bright light in which shadows are moving, ancestors mostly, but angels too.
This shining bardo doesn’t stay forever. Sometimes it takes / endures seven days, but it can also take seven weeks.
The next bardo is called the bardo of becoming. The consciousness / mind finds a new place, in a new body and a new life gets started. This we can also see in the story of Easter. After three days, and taht’s very fast as we compare this with the Tibetan idea about living and dying, Jesus rises from the grave. He conquered dead and became an enlightened being who walks a short time on this earth and than rises to Heaven making the Holy Spirit, a kind of reborn energy, avalable to the world. With His ressurection and entering Heaven He broke the Circle of Bardo, as did Buddha.
In Tibetan tradition of bardo the songs from The Book of the Dead were recited by the monks to lead the spirit. Rinpoche goes further in this idea and describes his ideas in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. In his book he sees life as it is as a bardo. The bardo between birth and the moment of sying, life in itself is a transition. It’s a time in which we learn, contemplate, meditate and prepare on death.
Rinpoche goes even further, a period of uncertainty can also be a bardo. For example, the moment you come home and see that there has been a burglary while you were away. Or that moment between “I have bad news” and “I have to tell you …” At that moment the concrete of your reality breaks and you feel that the ground is disappearing beneath your feet. Than the realization comes … you see the essence. No more time for futilities. It’s a moment of truth … you can see what really is important.
This is what this Insight means … discover the truth by tearing down the veil. This is what happened as Jesus died at the cross. The veil that hid the Holy of Holies was torn apart exposing the holiest place in the temple and the revelation that Jesus really was the Son of God.
Our host’s response
To write a haiku, tanka or another Japanese poetry form about this 2nd Insight isn’t easy I think, but I had to try it myself (of course) and this is what came in mind, a haiku from my archives:
phoenix spreads its wings
after the dark cold winter night