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Bardo Teachings Part 2

Bardo Teachings Part 2

The Meaning of Bardo

Pointing out that all dream-like, illusion-like phenomena are appearances 

is the dharma which overturns grasping at the true existence.

Similarly, for the purpose of pointing out all appearances as the appearances of the bardo,

the previous gurus explained the three bardo of birth and death, the bardo of dreams, and the bardo of existence.

According to the Compendium of Abhidharma,

the moment of death is the very same moment that the bardo of existence begins. 

The period from death until rebirth is called the "bardo of existence."

According to the system of highest yoga tantra, our physical body is always produced together with our subtle body of wind and mind.

Thus, it is appropriate to accept that in the bardo of existence, there is a very subtle body.

What kind of physical body does one have in the bardo of existence? 

According to the Treasury of Abhidharma, 

beings in the bardo have a body like that of their previous existence.

At that time, it is previous with reference to the next existence.

It is not previous with reference to the bardo.

Thus, wherever you will be born next, you become connected with that kind of body.

According to the higher tradition of Abhidharma as well,

Wherever you will be born next, you take the form of that kind of body. 

Generally, based on the next life,

in the bardo prior to that,

one will take the form of that kind of body.

According to Jetsün Marpa's Scroll on the Bardo,  

for three and a half days,

one will take the form of the previous life,

and for three and a half days, 

one will take the form of the next life.

How is it that these two systems are not contradictory?

According to Pertinent Quotations on the Six Dharmas by the all-seeing, Shamarpa,

the actual body of a being in the bardo of existence will be like the body that they will have in their next rebirth.

Nevertheless, since what appears to the mind of bardo beings is like a dream,

due to strong habitual tendencies connected with the previous life, 

they may see themselves in their previous form. 

Thus, these two systems are not contradictory.  

One with divine vision can see the bardo body as it actually is,

while a siddha who has approximate divine vision 

sees the bardo body according to their karmic imprints.

According to the Prophesy on Transmigration Sūtra, 

it is said that when a person is about to die, a spirit enters their mind.

At the time of someone's death, the spirit, etc., who is born with them 

will take on their form and appear to their relatives and friends

and give prophesies, causing confusion about karmic cause and effect.

In general, some in the bardo of existence can see with the divine eye as a result of prior practice, which was not acquired due to birth.

The knowledge of when one will die and where one will transmigrate 

is approximate to the power of the Buddha, 

and also occurs in śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas.

Subtlety of the Bardo Body

How subtle is the body of a being in the bardo of existence?

A body in the form realm is very pure,

and the body of a being in the bardo of existence from that realm is even subtler.

By comparison, the gods in the desire realm are more gross,

and the body of a being in the bardo of existence from that realm is even grosser.

The inner meaning is that there is no material body, 

but only a mental body that is established.

A bardo being is able to travel wherever they think, without being obstructed by earth, stones, etc. 

They have miraculous powers due to past karma.

Nourishment in the Bardo

As for what substances a bardo body consumes,

it is generally said that they consume odors, 

but they may also consume flavors, etc.

Color of a Bardo Body

As was clearly stated by Yanggön Chenpo, 

first, riding on the wind,

due to the dependent arising of the five poisons,

the five colors appear.

When wandering about in all directions,

the five-colored light will appear as a path.

Whichever light one follows determines one's rebirth.

If you follow white light, you will be reborn as a god, red as a demigod,

blue as human, yellow as a hungry ghost, green as an animal,

and smoke-colored as a hell being.

Wherever you go, the pure light will appear as a path.

All appearances will become the color of that light. 

The mental body too takes on that color.

According to what has been passed down in the lineage of oral instructions

of earlier masters who have seen the true nature of the body and mind,

and beheld the bardo of existence, 

in the bardo of existence, consciousness rides on the winds.

The wind is inclusive of the five pure elements.

Consciousness has pure and impure parts.

The impure part includes the five poisons and the pure part includes the seeds of the five wisdoms,

the five purities of the wind and the five stained wisdoms.

There is self-radiance due to the interdependence of the clarity aspect and the mental appearances.

The path of light appears as the five paths of pure light, 

and appearances arise from the radiant aspect.

Thus, these are called the five purities or complete purities.

At the beginning, the light dawns as the equality of all five.

Then, that which arises from the manner of their mixing is,

for example, pure white light if one will be reborn as a god.

As that becomes more intense,

that dawns as the white light of the path,

and ultimately all bodies and appearances dawn as white light.