Days 5-7 in Bardo state

The Fifth Day

On the fifth day there is the karma family, which is the pure quality of air or wind. It is a green light; the colour of envy. From the Realm of Accumulated Actions the tathāgata Amoghasiddhi appears.

The karma family is associated with action and fulfilment and efficiency. It is pow­erful and nothing can stand in its way, therefore it is regarded as destruc­tive. Amoghasiddhi means accomplishing all actions, all powers.

He is holding a crossed vajra in his hand. The vajra is a symbol of fulfilling all actions, tough and indestructible, as we saw in the vajra fam­ily.

The crossed vajra represents the area of all activities completely per­ceived in all directions, panoramic fulfilment; often it is described as a multi-coloured vajra.

He is sitting on a scat of shang-shang, a kind of Garuḍa; this particular type of Garuḍa is a musician, he holds two cymbals in his hands and plays them as he carries Amoghasiddhi on his back.

It is again a very powerful image and a symbol of fulfilment, a kind of super-bird, a transcendental bird who can fly and cover all areas, encompassing all space.

His consort is Samaya-Tara, the Saviour of Sacred Word or Samaya. There are different interpretations of samaya in the tantric teachings, but in this case it is the actual fulfilment of the living situation at that moment.

Then there is the bodhisattva Vajrapani, which means the Vajra- holder. Again it symbolizes tremendous energy; he is the bodhisattva of energy. And also Sarvanivaranaviskambhin, the Purifier of all Hin­drances.

If any hindrance happens in the process of karmic action, it comes from misunderstanding or inability to be in contact with the ac­tual living situation, so the bodhisattva clears away these hindrances.

In other words, this karma family contains both the absence of any hin­drance, and the power of fulfilment.

Then there are the female bodhisattvas Gandha and Naivedya.

Gandha is the bodhisattva of perfume, she carries essence made out of all sorts of herbs, which represents the sense-perceptions or feelings; in order to have efficient skilful activity you need developed sense-perception.

Naivedya offers food, the food of meditation which nourishes skilful action.

The karma family transcends the skandha of concept, and is con­nected with the realm of the jealous gods.

Again, as in any experience of wisdom as opposed to confusion, they both have the same quality.  In this case they both have the quality of occupation,

but wisdom com­pletely covers the ground of all possibilities, seeing all possible ways of dealing with the situation in terms of subject and object, energy, texture, temperament, speed, space, and so on,

whereas confusion has a very limited way of dealing with situations, because it has never expanded itself or developed at all. Confusion is underdeveloped wisdom, primi­tive wisdom, while wisdom is completely developed.

The Sixth Day

Next there is a crescendo of all the forty-two peaceful divinities. The five tathagatas, the four guardians of the gates, the four goddesses and the six realms of the world appear simultaneously.

We have a situation of basic bewilderment within which the five tathagatas fill up all the space, all the directions, as well as any corners of emotional situations; there is no gap, no escape or sidetrack of any kind, because the four gates are also guarded by the four types of herukas.

The eastern gatekeeper is known as the Victorious One, which is connected with pacifying, but he appears in a wrathful form to provide an awe-inspiring situation at the gate, so that you do not even think of getting out. He represents the indestructible, invincible quality of peace, that is why he is victorious.

Then the second one, in the southern gate, is the Enemy of Yama the Lord of Death. He is associated with the karmic activity of increasing wealth. Wealth in terms of time and space is very limited, rationed, so he who goes beyond that limitation is the Lord of the Lord of Death.

In the western gate is the Horse-headed Hayagriva. He is the equiva­lent of an alarm system, as the neigh of the horse can wake you up in any unprepared situations. It is connected with magnetizing, which is a kind of intelligent passion, so that you do not get involved in passion but it wakes you up.

In the northern gate is Amritā Kuṇḍalī, the Coil of Amrita or anti-death potion. He is particularly associated with death. If there is any suicidal impulse of giving up hope, the anti-death medicine revives you; suicide is not the answer at all.

You have the peaceful presence of victory, the increasing one which conquers any extreme concept of time and space, the magnetizing principle which sends out an alarm, and the suicidal principle which gives you the anti-death potion.

Fundamentally you are completely locked in without any sidetracks.

Moreover, there are the female principles of the gatekeepers. There is the female principle with a hook, to catch you like a fish if you try to run away.

Or if you try to escape in terms of pride, to fill up all the space and not allow any other possibilities, the goddess with a lasso ties you from head to toe leaving you without any chance to expand.

Another possibility is to run away through passion which is based on speed, but then the goddess with the chain chains you down so that you cannot move your feet and run away.

And if you try to frighten anybody by aggression and make your way out, then the goddess with a very loud bell subdues your loud scream of aggression and your deep voice of anger.

Then you are reduced to facing the six realms of the world:

the Buddha of the gods, the Buddha of the jealous gods, the Buddha of the human beings, the Buddha of the animals, the Buddha of the hungry ghosts, and the Buddha of the hell realm.

All these visions appear from your heart centre, which is associated with emotion, passion, and pleasure.

The Seventh Day

Next, the Vidyādharas begin to shine out from the throat centre, which is the essence of the communication principle.

The peaceful divinities are associated with the heart, and the wrathful divinities with the brain. Speech is the link of communication between the two, which is the Vidyādharas.

Vidyādhara means holder of knowledge or insight. They are not quite peaceful and not quite wrathful, but intermediary; they are impressive, overpowering, majestic.

They represent the divine form of the tantric guru, possessing power over the magical aspects of the universe.

At the same time, the green light of the animal realm appears, sym­bolizing ignorance which needs the teaching of the guru to enlighten it.

The Wrathful Deities

Now the principles of the five tathagatas are transformed into the herukas and their consorts.

The basic qualities of the families continue, but now they are expressed in a very dramatic, theatrical way; this is the energy of vajra, padma, and so on, rather than just their basic qualities.

The herukas have three heads and six arms. The symbolical meaning behind this is the power of transmutation, expressed in the mythical story of the subjugation of Rudra. Rudra is someone who has achieved complete egohood.

There were two friends studying under a teacher, and their teacher said that the es­sence of his teaching was spontaneous wisdom; even if a person were to indulge himself in extreme actions, they would become like clouds in the sky and be freed by fundamental spontaneity.

The two disciples un­derstood it entirely differently:

One of them went away and began to work on the spontaneous way of relating to his own characteristics, posi­tive and negative, and became able to free them spontaneously without forcing anything, neither encouraging nor suppressing them.

The other one went away and built a brothel, and organized a big gang of his friends who all acted in a spontaneous way, making raids on the nearby villages, killing the men and carrying off the women.

After some time they met again, and both were shocked by each oth­er’s kind of spontaneity, so they decided to go and see their teacher.

They both presented their experience to him, and he told the first that his was the right way, and the second that his was the wrong way.

But the second friend could not bear to see that all his effort and energy had been condemned, so he drew a sword and killed the teacher on the spot.

When he himself died he had a succession of incarnations, five hundred as scorpions, five hundred as jackals and so on, and eventually he was born in the realm of the gods as Rudra.

He was born with three heads and six arms, with fully grown teeth and nails.

His mother died as soon as he was born, and the gods were so horrified that they took both him and the body of his mother to a char­nel ground and put them in a tomb.

The baby survived by sucking his mother’s blood and eating her flesh, so he became very terrifying and healthy and powerful.

He roamed around the charnel ground, and began to control all the local ghosts and deities and create his own kingdom just as before, until he had conquered the whole threefold universe.

At that time his former teacher and his fellow student had already attained enlightenment, and they thought they should try to subjugate him.

So Vajrapani manifested himself as Hayagriva, a wrathful red figure with a horse’s head, and uttered three neighs to proclaim his existence in the kingdom of Rudra.

Then he entered Rudra’s body by his anus, and Rudra was extremely humiliated; he acknowledged his subjugation and offered his body as a scat or a vehicle.

All the attributes of Rudra and the details of his royal costume, the skull crown, skull cap, bone ornaments, tiger-skin shirt, human-skin shawl and elephant-skin shawl, armor, pair of wings, crescent moon in his hair, and so on, were trans­muted into the Heruka costume.

First there is the Great Heruka who is not associated with any of the five families, he is the space between the five families.

The Great Heruka creates the basic energy of all the wrathful herukas, and then come the Buddha Heruka, Vajra Heruka, Ratna Heruka, Padma Heruka, and Karma Heruka with their respective consorts. They represent the outra­geous, exuberant quality of energy which cannot be challenged.

Funda­mentally the quality of the five families is a peaceful state, open and passive, because it is completely stable and nothing can disturb it; the tremendous power of that peaceful state manifests as wrathful. It is often described as compassionate anger, anger without hatred.

Then there are the gauris, another type of wrathful energy. The five herukas are the existence of energy as it is, while the gauris are activating energy.

The white Gauri dances on a corpse, her activity is to extinguish thought processes, therefore she holds a mace of a baby’s corpse.

Gener­ally a corpse symbolizes the fundamental neutral state of being; a body without life is the state without any active thoughts, good or bad, the non-dualistic state of mind.

Then the yellow goddess holds a bow and arrow because she has achieved the unity of skilful means and knowl­edge; her function is to bring them together.

And then there is the red Gauri holding a banner of victory made out of the skin of a sea monster. The sea monster symbolizes the principle of saṁsāra, which cannot be escaped; the goddess holding it as a banner means that saṁsāra is not rejected but accepted as it is.

Then in the north is Vetali, black in colour, holding a vajra and a skull cup because she symbolizes the unchanging quality of dharmata. The vajra is indestructible, and the skull cup is an­other symbol of skilful means.

We do not have to go through all of them in detail, but just to give a basic idea of these gauris and messengers connected with the wrathful mandala, each particular figure has a func­tion in fulfilling a particular energy.

The wrathful deities represent hope, and the peaceful deities repre­sent fear. Fear in the sense of irritation, because the ego cannot manipu­late them in any way; they are utterly invincible, they never fight back.

The hopeful quality of wrathful energy is hope in the sense of a perpet­ual creative situation, seen as it really is, as basic neutral energy which continues constantly, belonging neither to good nor bad.

The situation may seem overwhelming and beyond your control, but there is really no question of controlling or being controlled.

The tendency is to panic, to think you can keep control; it is like suddenly realizing that you are driv­ing very fast, so you put the brake on, which causes an accident.

The gauris’ function is to come between body and mind. Mind in this case is the intelligence, and body is the impulsive quality, like panicking, which is a physical action.

The gauris intervene between intelligence and ac­tion, they cut the continuity of the self-preservation of the ego: that is their wrathful quality.

They transmute destructive energy into creative energy. Just as the body of Rudra was transformed into the heruka, so the force behind the impulsive quality of panic or action is transmuted.