Secret Teachings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead
The assorted sayings below are from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, much as translated by Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup (1868-1922) and edited by Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz. The book was first published in 1927. [Til vi]
The Tibetan Book of the Dead is one of the texts that Padma-Sambhava is said to have hidden in Tibet in the late 700s, because Tibetans of that day and age were somehow unprepared for his teachings. Today they are being discovered and rediscovered by Western readers as well: it started 1927 when Dr. Evans-Wentz (1878-1965) first published this landmark volume.
It is traditionally used as a mortuary text. Yet it was originally understood as a symbolic guide for the living too, especially for yogis entering taller states of mind. The socio-cultural influence of the text is astounding.
Below are clearly annotated and structured nuggets from this text. - Tormod Kinnes
The Esoteric Dhyana-Buddhas
Spiritual beings are said to be as real as you are yourself.
In Buddhist Tantric art, different Buddhas are used to symbolise various attributes.
Five personifications of airy elements are represented too.
Affirmations, alias Resolves and Invocations
Go for highly valued returns to come -
Let it come that I obtain the non-forgetting intellect and remember my past life [207 ].
Let it come that I see with the celestial eyes of bright Wisdom .
Mistaken will be your purpose if you return empty-handed from life [cf. 204].
May we see a Buddha realm — There is an Unmade Realm [[[Buddha]]]. [202-3, cf. 68].
At the base of the spinal column a mighty occult power lies coiled. Once it is aroused into activity, it may rise "like mercury in a magic tube" through various yoga centres and reach the "thousand-petalled lotus" in the brain-centre. Spreading out in a fountain-like crest, it falls as a shower of heavenly bliss that feeds the mind and vital sheets - and fills one with yogic Illumination [cf. 216-17]. (2)
The Great Teacher [[[Buddha]]] has set aside, as being non-essential to mankind's spiritual enlightenment, the belief and the non-belief in a Supreme Deity - more especially in an anthropomorphic Supreme Deity .
Symbolism to mature on is to be different from stupefying and awe-inspiring
MAY I not fall under the power of misleading, stupefying passions .
Even beyond there are entities and places that induce misery - stay away from them if you can
ABANDON all awe [203, 205, and elsewhere.].
As a man is taught, so he believes .
There is a Clear Light of Reality .
You are allowed to go for highly treasured returns to come and store merits too.
Symbolism to mature on is to be different from stupefying and awe-inspiring representations.
We are told that in the beyond there are entities and places that induce misery - stay away from them if you can.
In the After-Life
IF YOU are going to be reborn as a male, attraction towards the mother and repulsion towards the father, will arise on you - and if you are to be reborn as a female, attraction towards the father and repulsion towards the mother, together with a feeling of jealousy (for one or the other) will dawn on you. Yet, when the attraction or repulsion arises, meditate: "Not through attraction and repulsion." [cf. 180].
If you have been unable to apprehend [the teachings], henceforth the body of the past life will become more and more dim and the body of the future life will become more and more clear. You will then think, "I shall go and seek my body," going here and there distractedly. Then lights will shine on you from the six world-realms, and the light of that place that you are to be born in, will shine most prominently, through karmic power:
A dull white light from the world of gods.
A dull green light from the world of titans.
A dull yellow light from the human-world.
A dull blue light from the animal (brute) world.
A dull red light from the spirit (preta) world.
A smoke-coloured light from the hell-world [173-74].
You have to form resolves in your mind, even in the beyond, where earnestness and pure love are thought to be necessary [cf. 177].
If you see visions of females and males in union, withhold yourself from going between them as you mentally worship the Great Spirit and ask for perfect guidance as to what to do with it [cf. 178]. (7)
Feel free to hope your own tutelary angel will shine forth.
Prepare yourself solidly for a good after-life in the beyond. In Western Europe, "Memento mori" is a phrase that has been used for it.
Form earnest resolves that seem fit, just, and needed.
IN NUCE Feel free to prepare yourself as needed, both for here and now and the morrow and beyond.
Choosing Birth Again
LoTo win a lot, enter wombs through foreknowledge of what would be really good for you
TO WIN a perfectly endowed human body one must inherently possess faith, perseverance, intellect, sincerity, and humility - and also be born at a time when [a good dharma] prevails - and then meet a fit guru [cf. 194n].
If you have to enter into a womb, choose according to the supernormal power of foreknowledge you possess. A one-pointed wish for any Realm of birth will take you to that Realm at once [cf. 188, 190]. LoThrough birth-visions from the other side, you can be alerted to dangers of various wombs (and families) and circumstances
YOU CAN choose the land of the place of birth by help of premonitory signs or visions [cf. 184]. (3) LoNext life be born as a god if you are up to it, that is . . .
EVEN though a womb-door may appear to be good, do not be attracted; if it appear bad, have no repulsion towards it. To enter in the mood of full impartiality is a most profound art [cf. 191]. (5)
By accomplishing the Select Teaching [not shown in full here] one obtains Buddhahood [Enlightenment] at the moment of death [cf. 196]. MM
Teachings for selecting a womb-door [to a next life]: If the womb-door has not been closed, it is almost time to assume a body. Select your womb (according to the) best teaching. Listen, and hold it well in mind [cf. 183]. (7)
For one to be born as a god (deva in a heaven), delightful mansions of precious metals will be seen [cf. 184].
If to be born in hell, [wailing and wistful] songs will be heard. Lands of gloom and black holes in the earth will appear (etc.) [cf. 185]. (8)
Hold fast to the Truth. - Gautama Buddha [Tiy 240].
Gist IN SUM
TIP: To win a lot, enter wombs through foreknowledge of what would be really good for you.
Through birth-visions from the other side, you can be alerted to dangers of various wombs (and families) and circumstances.
Next time be born as a god if you are up to it, that is . . .
Evans-Wentz combined two quite long texts to get the Tibetan Book of the Dead as it is known in English. The two text in it are Great Liberation through Hearing: The Supplication of the Bardo of Dharmata and Great liberation through Hearing: The Supplication Pointing out the Bardo of Existence.
Tibetan tradition has it that the Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State was composed in the 700s by Padmasambhava and discovered by Karma Lingpa in the 1300s. There are variants of the book among different sects or schools.
Walter Y. Evans-Wentz came up with the title based on the previously published Egyptian Book of the Dead. A more accurate title is "The Liberation through Hearing during the Intermediate State", or just Bardo Thodol. Another translation: "Profound Dharma of Self-Liberation through the Intention of the Peaceful and Wrathful Ones", popularly known as Karma Lingpa's Peaceful and Wrathful Ones. The "wrathful ones" are mental visions of deities appearing due to the dead guy's wrongdoings here on earth. The texts shows how to handle them, if that is not too hard to do.
For the dead and listening, and fit for yogis
The work is a funerary text, and a helpful text for yogis that slide into such states as the text paints vivid and perhaps scary pictures of. The Tibetan text is intended to guide one through possible experiences after dying, aiming at at the interval from death and toward next birth, in short: the bardo. The text shows the rituals and readings that lamas undertake next to someone who has died, assuming or knowing that the still living entity that once inhabited a body, is able to hear and take the lead.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead was first published in 1927 by Oxford University Press, and has evoked significant interest in the West from 1960, when it was reissued.
Francesca Fremantle (2001:20) writes that "the text has been handed down through the centuries in several versions containing varying numbers of sections and subsections, arranged in different orders, ranging from around ten to thirty-eight titles. These individual texts cover a wide range of subjects, including . . . meditation instructions, visualizations of deities, indications of future rebirth", and guiding words for the after-death state.
Three states given:
The moment of death as an opportunity to sail into the bright light of reality, or as good a realm as one is capable of. One is cautioned against dark, gloomy misty and fearful sides to the beyond, for such environments may lead to a glide into tortures in one or more hells.
Experiencing various sides to reality features visions of Buddha forms - or as good forms as one is capable of experiencing without swooning.
Toward rebirth - what results in rebirth in various lokas (realms). Life as a human in this loka (material plane) is one of many possibilities.
Deal well enough with life to improve the future fare; don't wait till you are dead for it
Still, handling the fare in the beyond is not as simple as this sketch shows. One is held to account for one's good deeds and other deeds in several lives. These "seeds" come to fruition or are dispensed out through different lives. And stable and good sides to ourselves are rewarded in that the soul gravitates to "resonating" environments, Buddha holds in his great karma teachings.
These texts says one may help oneself to experience reality first-hand in the beyond right after dying, in part by focusing smartly and well, and similarly with visions. Maybe able concentration efforts helps against falling asleep or away from helpful gods and awakened beings in the beyond. However, the results could depend on one's spiritual efforts here on earth for a long time also.
Also, Buddha teaches (link above) that in the long run of several lives, perhaps, those who do good, may go upwards in the lokas, realms, and get it better too, depending of how one's total karma is portioned out, and how good it has become. Such betterments pertain to a series of earth-lives also. Yet, detrimental karma currents may set in too.
Teachings are good if they salvage us
The above fills in various holes in the survey by concentrated points from Buddha's teachings on karma and reincarnation. He teaches that both sound skills (being deft) and meditation help, and behaving properly too.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead acknowledges the value of subtle skills in dealing with apparitions and other phenomena one may come across in the beyond. Meditation teachings, dhyana teachings, say that as you brighten up by dhyana, you gravitate toward good environments in the future too, if not counterforces prevail. So having good and helpful friends is good, being careful is good, being protected from wrongdoers is also good.
Tibetan Book of the Dead, Bardo Thödöd, extracts, Literature
Words and phrases placed in square brackes are added by me. What is in round brackets, is in Evans-Wentz' edition. The page references above are to:
Til: Evans-Wentz, W. ed. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, according to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English Rendering. London: Oxford University Press, Paperback ed. 1960.
Tiy: Evans-Wentz, W. ed. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.