Bardo: literally, means in between ~ “intermediate state”.
There are Six Bardos:
The first is The bardo of the ordinary waking state (Tibetan, kye ne bardo). It is the experience of the awake and conscious reality as we know it.
The second is The bardo of the dream state (Tibetan,milam bardo). It is the experience of dream time while sleeping.
The third , The meditation bardo (Tibetan, samten bardo) includes all experience of meditation, from novice meditation to total realization.
The fourth, The bardo of the dying process (Tibetan, chilkai bardo) is the process during which the five elements of which our body is constituted (space, air, water, fire, earth) dissolve into one another.
According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, first the element of earth, which is yellow in color, dissolves into the water element. The dying person simultaneously sees yellow and feels weak and unable to stand, as though all of his or her surroundings were falling apart. Secondly the element of water dissolves into the element fire. Inwardly the dying person sees white and outwardly feels as though his or her surroundings were flooded with water. At this point the face and throat feel dry and great thirst arises. Thirdly, the element of fire dissolves into the air element. Inwardly the dying person sees red while outwardly his or her surroundings feel hot. The person may feel a burning sensation as the body’s heat dissolves. Fourthly, the element of air dissolves into the element of space or ether. The dying person inwardly sees green and outwardly experiences the surroundings as though they were being destroyed by a ferocious wind and loud thunder. At the fifth stage, the ether dissolves into consciousness, phenomena become dark, and momentarily consciousness is lost, as in a faint.
The fifth, The bardo of reality (Tibetan, chonyid bardo) entails the arising of apparitions and hallucination-like experience as a consequence of one’s karmic propensities. Using meditative awareness the individual has an opportunity to recognize these images in their illusory, true nature. These hallucinatory visions are similar in nature to the images in dreams. Hence the capacity for lucid dreaming may be useful for understanding them as illusion. According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, an enlightenment experience is possible if one can maintain the view that the frightening experiences are nothing more than manifestations of one’s mind.
The sixth, The bardo of the search for rebirth in samsara, (Tibetan, sipa bardo) corresponds to the Tibetan Buddhist view of reincarnation. The sipa bardo details the process whereby an individual will be reborn in one of six realms (the god realm, demi-god realm, human realm, animal realm, hungry-ghost realm, and the hell realm), depending on karma. In an interesting parallel to psychoanalytic theory, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition asserts that the individual, while still in a mental body, will be sexually attracted to the parent of the opposite sex, and have an aversion to the parent of the same sex. In fact, according to Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, all that the disincarnate being sees are the sexual organs of the parents-to-be. This is perhaps the most basic foundation of what we call the Oedipus complex.
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