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Bardo Is Not a Myth

If we see the Tibetan Book of the Dead only from the point of view of what happens when we die, it becomes like the study of a myth. We need practical experience of this continual process of bardo. There is always the conflict between body and consciousness, and there is the continual experience of death and birth. There are also experiences of luminosity, or the bardo of dharmata, and experiences of the bardo of becoming, which are described as meeting possible future parents and grounding situations.

At this very moment, we also have the visions of wrathful and peaceful divinities, which are happening constantly. If we are open and realistic enough to look at our experience in this way, then the actual experience of death and the bardo state will not be either purely a myth or an extraordinary shock, because we have already worked with it and become familiar with the whole thing.

From The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo, translated with commentary by Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa, pages 2 and 3.

Listen to Chogyam Trungpa’s original talks and read the verbatim transcripts for two seminars on The Tibetan Book of the Dead at the Chogyam Trungpa Digital Library.

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Photo of Chogyam Trungpa by James Gritz.

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