Dying and the Bardos
Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
Lotsawa House presents the following texts as part of our Dying and Bardos Series:
In response to a question from the bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha, the Buddha explains how a bodhisattva should view the mind at the moment of death. It is important, the Buddha says, to cultivate the perception of insubstantiality, great compassion, referencelessness and non-attachment, and not to seek buddhahood anywhere other than in the mind's own wisdom.
- The Excellent Path to Perfect Liberation: A Guidance Practice (Nedren) for the Dukngal Rangdrol (Natural Liberation of Suffering) Practice of the Great Compassionate One from the Longchen Nyingtik by Dodrupchen Jigme Trinle Özer
This 'guidance' or nedren (gnas 'dren) practice is intended to help guide the deceased to enlightenment by purifying the various realms of saṃsāra and granting empowerment. It belongs to the Natural Liberation of Suffering (sdug bsngal rang grol) set of Avalokiteśvara practices, which, in turn, are part of the Longchen Nyingtik revelation.
Sakya Paṇḍita provides the outline of a very simple meditation on Amitābha for the moment of death, summarizing the preliminaries, main part, conclusion and benefits of the practice according to the oral tradition of his uncles and their father.
Following some lines of the Prayer of Good Actions (bzang spyod smon lam), Sakya Paṇḍita here offers a simple visualisation centred upon Buddha Amitābha, to be practised each day before falling asleep in order to secure rebirth in the Sukhāvatī pure-land.
One of the most famous sections of Liberation Upon Hearing in the Bardo (bar do thos grol)—the so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead—this text offers instructions on each of the six intermediate states, or bardos: 1) the bardo of this life, 2) the bardo of dreams, 3) the bardo of samādhi meditation, 4) the bardo of dying, 5) the bardo of dharmatā, and 5) the bardo of becoming.
In this profound instruction on the process of dying and the intermediate state, or bardo, the great Longchen Rabjam explains how to see death from a Dzogchen perspective and how to attain liberation either at the moment of death or thereafter in the bardos of dharmatā or becoming.
- Liberation Upon Hearing: An Explanation of the Phenomena of the Intermediate State by Minling Terchen Gyurme Dorje
This explanation of the bardos is composed so that it can be read aloud as part of a ritual to guide the deceased. The explanation begins with the meaning of bardo, or intermediate state, in general; it then goes on to describe the process of dying and the subsequent phases, the bardos of dharmatā and becoming, in detail.