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The Experience of the Six Bardos
By Chögyam Trungpa
“Bardo is a Tibetan word: bar means ‘in between’ or, you could say, ‘no-man’s land,’ and do is like a tower or an island in that no-man’s land. It’s like a flowing river which belongs neither to the other shore nor to this shore, but there is a little island in the middle, in between. In other words, it is present experience, the immediate experience of nowness—where you are, where you’re at. That is the basic idea of bardo.”
The bardo teachings are most commonly thought of as being primarily connected with experience after death. The six realms—including heaven and hell—are commonly considered to be physical places in which one may take re-birth. In this book, Trungpa Rinpoche presents the Dzogchen inner vision of the bardos and realms as mind-states that occur moment-by-moment in everyday life as well as in the after-death state. This discussion further develops the presentation of these doctrines that he began in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.
Our experience of the present moment is always coloured by one of six mind-states: the god realm (bliss), the jealous god realm (jealousy and lust for entertainment), the human realm (passion and desire), the animal realm (ignorance), the hungry ghost realm (poverty and possessiveness), and the hell realm (aggression and hatred). This psychological categorisation opens up the possibility that we can recognise, in every moment, in which realm we are operating. Having done so, we can liberate the ‘madness’ of neurotic emotions into their intrinsic non-dual nature. In the heightened moment of each bardo, Dzogchen presents an opportunity to liberate daily experience into freedom.
This is not an easy book – even though the actual language is not difficult. However, for those who want to understand bardo and re-birth as a practical means of altering life, it is essential.
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