Bardo (Tibetan) translates as intermediate and conveys the idea of interlude. It refers to all in-between states. For example,
- one’s life which is between birth and death is a bardo.
- Sleep, which is between going to sleep and arising the next morning, is a bardo.
- Dreams are bardos – they are interludes within one’s sleep.
- The process of death for the soul or consciousness-stream is a bardo. This is like sleep with dreams within it. The consciousness-stream (soul) experiences distinct bardos within the process of death.
- Furthermore, there are particular bardos which are the after-life states in which the soul (also known as a mind-stream or consciousness-stream) will abide in for certain durations. These are referenced in various spiritual, religious, or metaphysical traditions and will be briefly explained as this series continues.
- Finally, there is the bardo of re-engaging incarnated life as a between state from the after-life states and being born as a baby in the world.
If the previous posts within this series have accomplished their purpose, two concepts have been conveyed:
- that the continuity of consciousness is one’s choice within each moment. Consciousness-awareness already is and is vibrantly present. Distraction, denial, disengaging, and various forms of mindlessness are the habituated ways by which one does not sustain and thus abide in continual consciousness and its gifts.
- that the overarching flow of consciousness is uninterrupted whether one engages it or not, sustains it in its excellence or not, or lives from its vibrant clarity and compassion or not. That flow expresses through the above list of bardos which are the ceaseless flow of consciousness through all forms of livingness. Death and after-life states are included in the forms of livingness because the mind-stream (soul or consciousness-stream) simply continue in other realms and states in way similar to and accessed by a practiced meditator.
It is imperative to understand the above principles in order to understand choice, allowing, letting, Being, discontent, frustration, and a variety of optimizing choice-moments as well as the fact that discontent, frustration, and such are also matters of choice. How one engages one’s mind-stream is one’s choice, even in a time of pain, loss, or lack of control. Only repetition of selflessness or selfishness, making things be about one’s self or understanding that at essence things are not, will open one’s self-awareness to the continuity of consciousness as it is. That same repetition through mindfulness, re-collecting the current moment as pure, as an energetic playing out, and as the fruit of seeds that we ourselves have planted, these repetitions illumine, reveal, and brighten one’s day continuously even when there is difficulty.
Therefore, one’s common state of mind and emotions is describing one’s relation to the inner self, the soul. It is a simple mathematical equation to understand that the nature of one’s mind and emotions on a repeated daily basis will be the nature and tone of one’s mind and emotions as death and its processes ensue. It would be silly to expect otherwise.
- Cultivating peace of mind,
- calmness and equipoise of emotions,
- divestment from a consuming sense of self,
- and putting emphasis on the well-being of others, their needs and how one can support and bring about the goodness of others,
- along with contemplation on wide-minded meaningful subjects,
- and meditation are the only ways to tame and train the mind such that when death comes (which is unpredictable) peace of mind, a joyful heart, and ease with others will be our state of being.
Begin now to hold each moment as the pure clarity of awareness that it is – no matter the outer circumstances or how appearances seem. Cultivate self-disinterestedness. Doing so immediately increases peace of emotions and mind. Drop into feelings and thoughts as they arise. (Note the words: drop in to that which is arising.) An arising is a potential distraction, an intensification of person-ness, and is generally coming from a “see-me” “hear-me” frame of reference. Dropping in means to stop, breathe, explore what is going on inside and cultivate personal fearlessness. Doing so, we will engage our self, and truth be told, it is the only boogey man or source of negativity in our mind.
The intention of this series is to offer a wider and non-englamoured frame of reference on the subject of bardos and continuity of consciousness. In order to discuss afterlife states, heaven realms, or councils gathered and supporting one’s reincarnation, the fuller context of bardo must be understood. Bardo is simply the ongoing, ceaseless, and flawless flow of consciousness as it already is. Bardo, generally refers to a less aware state – thus a between state. Sleep seems less aware for most people thus it is considered a bardo. But to the awakened ones, the life that most people live is an asleep state, an 80 year dream of frustration, chasing after or being chased, momentary happiness, and then frustration again.
As we recognize awareness-consciousness in the moment through its displays of luminescence, dynamism, and continuous flow, we decrease the amount of time that we are unaware through robotized emotions, gratifications, and mindless activities (see previous posts for expansions on these so as to recognize them in the now of each moment). Decreasing such equals an increase of awareness and the continuity of awareness (consciousness) as it is: bright clarity, vibrant and vitalizing, and always new.
* The Continuity of Consciousness Retreat happens at Spirit Fire Meditative Retreat Center in Massachusetts, January 7-10, 2015. It is an intimate retreat center, thus space is limited. Register now. Food is organic, space is serene.