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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Art of dying - HT inner voice

P.P. Wangchuk

What really happens before, during and after death? To be very honest, none of us would be able to give a definitive answer because we don't know. But Buddhism deals with this issue in a quite serious manner.

Guru Padmasambhava, the 8th century great Buddhist teacher, had first used the word `bardo' which means `intermediate state between death and life.' He divided `bardo' into six stages.
The first one, called the `bardo of life', begins when we are born and it continues until we die.

The second is called the `bardo of dream' experienced between sleep and waking state. The third one is the `bardo of transe', experienced between dualistic consciousness and enlightened awareness. Some people may experience this in a spontaneous experience, but generally only meditators experience it.

The fourth is the `bardo of death.' This commences when the outer and inner signs point to the onset of death, and it continues until complete dissolution of external and internal breath.

The fifth is the `bardo of reality', and it starts after the last internal breath. It is during this period of transition that one sometimes sees a dying person getting into a state of hallucination -- when spontaneous visions and auditory phenomena occur. The last, the `bardo of becoming', determines coming into form once again, depending on one's karma.

You may argue and trash all this .
But there is merit in what Robert Thurman says: "If we are going to use the science of death to develop the art of dying as well, we must realise that all these realms need to be considered just as real in our present lives. Those who have remembered their previous lives have reported this to be the case... And to prevent the horrible and develop the beautiful, we should still take care to see that `out there' is beautiful and not horrible."

So, I always prefer to rename and call the famous `Tibetan book of Dead' as "The art of living is the art of dying".

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