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Bardo Teachings Part 3

Bardo Teachings Part Three

The Lifespan of a Bardo Being

According to the Compendium of Abhidharma,
one remains in the bardo for up to seven days,
and will die within that timeframe.

What is the lifespan in the bardo?
One remains in the bardo of existence for seven days.
After that, one will definitely die due to karma
and continually be reborn.

It is generally thought that one remains for 49 days, seven sets of seven days,
but this is not necessarily the case.
According to Neten Tsunpa, some remain in the bardo for only an instant,
though upon dying they are reborn many times.
It is said that some remain for a moment and others for a long time.

As stated in the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the son of King Beautiful Light remained in the bardo for three years.

According to the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra,
if their family, friends, and so forth are sorrowful,
the bardo being too will become sorrowful,
If they commit misdeeds, that will harm the bardo being,
and likewise if they practice virtuous acts, it will bring about great benefit..

According to the Samvarodaya Tantra, bardo beings are miraculously born

Size of the Body of Bardo Beings

According to many scriptures and the Stream of Nectar,
the size of the body of a bardo being is like that of a five-year-old child.
This is mainly with reference to the desire realm.
The body of a bardo being who was previously a god in the desire realm
will be the size of a five to ten-year-old child.
As for those previously in the form realm, this is explained in detail in the Treasury of Abhidharma.

According to the Summary of Conduct, nothing can impede a bardo being.
The meaning is that nothing—whether animate or inanimate—can stop them.

As stated in the Treasury of Abhidharma,
"One with a divine eye can clearly see those who are of the same kind."

Bardo beings can see not only one another with divine eyes,
but also everything within the bardo and other realms of existence.
Their vision is unimpeded like that of a god.

As for how to recognize ground luminosity by recollecting it:
according to Rangjung Dorje, you should recognize the ground luminosity
by recalling it with the thought, "I must recognize it!"
After the signs of dissolution are complete, the appearances of this life will cease.

During the time up until the appearances of the bardo arise,
luminosity will dawn.
You have the opportunity to continually remain in luminosity,
but once you are in the city of the bardo of existence, there is no such opportunity.

According to the Special Pointing-Out of the Omniscient Jonangpa, it is said that at the time of withdrawal, if you see the empty form, the luminosity which is the dharmakāya, then when you die it will dawn powerfully, and you will be able to recognize the mind, remain for a long time, and quickly gain realization.

As for how to practice in the bardo,
it is best to recognize luminosity.
The middling is to actualize the illusory body.
The lesser is to impede entry into a womb in the six realms.

How to Practice at the Beginning of the Appearance of the Bardo

According to Kapé Chima,
appearances dissolve, thoughts dissolve,
the subtle elements dissolve, and gross aggregates, sense faculties, and objects dissolve.
After this dissolution, based on prior habituation,
the natural luminosity dawns.
The most profound practice is to recognize luminosity at that time.

As for the stages of how the bardo initially dawns:
After the dissolution of the subtle and gross appearances and thoughts,
luminosity will dawn.

In that way, first there are the signs that the constituents
associated with the family of Vairocana have dissolved into ultimate luminosity:
when the aggregate of form dissolves,
the limbs will shrink and physical strength will be exhausted.
When mirror-like wisdom dissolves, the mind becomes unclear,
and likewise, your vision becomes as though clouded by cataracts.
When the earth element dissolves,
your body will be unable to move.
When the visual faculty dissolves, your eyes will close and be unable to move.
When physical objects dissolve, the radiance of your complexion will diminish and cease.

As for the jewel family, when the aggregate of feeling dissolves,
the effects of wind, bile, and phlegm, etc., will no longer be experienced.
When the wisdom of equality dissolves, you will no longer recall the three kinds of feeling.
When the water element dissolves, saliva, menstrual blood, urine, and semen will dry up.
When the hearing faculty dissolves, you will no longer hear outer or inner sounds.
When the objects of sound dissolve, you will no longer hear the sounds of your own body.

As for the lotus family, when the aggregate of discernment dissolves,
you will no longer recognize different kinds of beings.
When the wisdom of discernment dissolves,
you will no longer recall the names of your parents, siblings, etc.
When the fire element dissolves, you will not be able to digest food.
When the faculty of smell dissolves, the upper wind will become weak.
When the objects of smell dissolve, you will no longer smell your own body.

As for the karma family, when the aggregate of compositional factors has dissolved,
you will no longer engage in any physical activities.
When the wisdom of accomplishment dissolves,
you will no longer have interest in worldly affairs.
When the wind element dissolves, the ten winds will remain in their own places.
When the faculty of taste dissolves, the tongue will become thick, short, and the root will become dark.
When the objects of taste dissolve, you will no longer experience the six flavors.

As for the way in which the subtle inner elements dissolve:
when the earth dissolves into water, the external sign is that
the body is no longer able to move or remain upright,
but will become loose.
You will think that you are sinking into the earth and will say, "Pull me up!"
The inner sign is the dawning of an appearance like a mirage.

When water dissolves into fire, the outer sign is that
the mouth and nose become dry, and the palate of the tongue will withdraw inward.
The inner sign is a smoke-like appearance.

When fire dissolves into wind, the outer sign is that the body will lose its heat.
The inner sign is an appearance like fireflies.

When wind dissolves into mind, the outer sign is
difficulty inhaling after exhaling and shortness of breath.
The inner sign is an appearance like a candle flame.
When the wind dissolves into the mind,
the four emptiness and the three of appearance, increase, and attainment will dawn.