Tibetan Book of the Dead | Part 13







To the assembled Deities, to the Tutelaries, to the Gurus,
Humbly is obeisance paid:
May Liberation in the Intermediate State be vouchsafed by Them.


Above, in the Great Bardo-Thödol,
The Bardo called Chönyid was taught;
And now, of the Bardo called Sidpa,
The vivid reminder is brought.



[Introductory Instructions to the Officiant]:

Although, heretofore, while in the Chönyid Bardo, many vivid re­minders have been given,—setting aside those who have had great familiarity with the real Truth and those who have good karma,

—for them of evil karma who have had no familiarity, and for them of evil karma who because of the influence thereof become stricken with fear and terror, recognition is difficult.

These go down to the Fourteenth Day; and, to re-impress them vividly, that which follows is to be read.


Worship having been offered to the Trinity, and the prayer invoking the aid of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas having been recited, then, calling the deceased by name, three or seven times, speak thus:

O nobly-born, listen thou well, and bear at heart that birth in the Hell-world, in the Deva-world, and in this Bardo-body is of the kind called supernormal birth.

Indeed, when thou wert experiencing the radiances of the Peaceful and the Wrathful, in the Chönyid Bardo, being unable to recognize, thou didst faint away, through fear, about three and one-half days [after thy decease];

and, then, when thou were recovered from the swoon, thy Knower must have risen up in its primordial condition and a radiant body, resembling the former body, must have sprung forth—as the Tantra says,

“Having a body [seemingly] fleshly [resembling] the former and that to be produced,
Endowed with all sense-faculties and power of unimpeded motion,
Possessing karmic miraculous powers,
Visible to pure celestial eyes [of Bardo beings] of like nature.”

Such, then, is the teaching.

That [radiant body]—thus referred to as [resembling] “the former and that to be produced” (meaning that one will have a body just like the body of flesh and blood, the former human, propensity body)—will also be endowed with certain signs and beauties of perfection such as beings of high destiny possess.

This body, [born] of desire, is a thought-form hallucination in the Intermediate State, and it is called desire-body.

At that time—if thou art to be born as a deva—visions of the Deva-world will appear to thee; similarly—wherever thou art to be born—if as an asura, or a human being, or a brute, or a preta, or a being in Hell, a vision of the place will appear to thee.

Accordingly, the word “former”[in the quotation] implies that prior to the three and one-half days thou will have been thinking thou had the same sort of a body as the former body of flesh and blood, possessed by thee in thy former existence because of habitual propensities;

and the word “produced” is so used because, afterwards, the vision of thy future place of birth will appear to thee.

Hence, the expression as a whole, “former and that to be produced”, refers to these [i.e. the fleshly body just discarded and the fleshly body to be assumed at rebirth].

At that time, follow not the visions which appear to thee. Be not attracted; be not weak: if, through weakness, thou be fond of them, thou will have to wander amidst the Six Lokas and suffer pain.

Up to the other day thou were unable to recognize the Chönyid Bardo, and have had to wander down this far.

Now, if thou art to hold fast to the real Truth, thou must allow thy mind to rest undistractedly in the nothing-to-do, nothing-to-hold condition of the unobscured, primordial, bright, void state of thine intellect, to which thou have been introduced by thy guru.

[Thereby] thou will obtain Liberation without having to enter the door of the womb.

But if thou art unable to know thyself, then, whosoever may be thy tutelary deity and thy guru, meditate on them, in a state of intense fondness and humble trust, as overshadowing the crown of thy head.

This is of great importance. Be not distracted.

[Instructions to the Officiant]:

Thus speak, and, if recogni­tion result from that, Liberation will be obtained, without need of the wandering in the Six Lokas.

If, however, through influence of bad karma, recognition is made difficult, thereupon say as follows:

O nobly-born, again listen:

Endowed with all sense- faculties and power of unimpeded motion” implies [that although] thou may have been, when living, blind of the eye, or deaf, or lame,

yet on this After-Death Plane thine eyes will see forms, and thine ears will hear sounds, and all other sense-organs of thine will be unimpaired and very keen and complete.

Wherefore the Bardo-body has been spoken of as “endowed with all sense-faculties”. That [condition of existence, in which thou thyself now art] is an indication that thou art deceased and wandering in the Bardo.

Act so as to know this. Remember the teachings; remember the teachings.

O nobly-born, “unimpeded motion” implies that thy present body being a desire-body—thine intellect having been separated from its seat—is not a body of gross matter,

so that now thou hast the power to go right through any rock-masses, hills, boulders, earth, houses, and Mt. Meru itself without being im­peded.

Excepting Budh-Gaya and the mother’s womb, even the King of Mountains, Mt. Meru itself, can be passed through by thee, straight forwards and backwards unimpededly. That, too, is an indication that thou art wandering in the Sidpa Bardo.

Remember thy guru's teachings, and pray to the Compassionate Lord.

O nobly-born, thou art actually endowed with the power of miraculous action, which is not, however, the fruit of any samādhi, but a power come to thee naturally; and, there­fore, it is of the nature of karmic power.

Thou art able in a moment to traverse the four continents round about Mt. Meru.

Or thou can instantaneously arrive in whatever place thou wish; thou have the power of reaching there within the time which a man takes to bend, or to stretch forth his hand.

These various powers of illusion and of shape-shifting desire not, desire not.

None is there [of such powers] which thou may desire which thou cannot exhibit. The ability to exercise them unimpededly exists in thee now.

Know this, and pray to the guru.

O nobly-born, “Visible to pure celestial eyes of like nature” implies that those [beings] of like nature, being those of similar constitution [or level of knowledge] in the Inter­mediate State, will individually see each other.

For example, those beings who are destined to be born amongst devas will see each other [and so on]. Dote not on them [seen by thee], but meditate upon the Compassionate One.

Visible to pure celestial eyes” [also] implies that the devas, being born [pure] in virtue of merit, are visible to the pure celestial eyes of those who practise dhyāna.

These will not see them at all times: when mentally concentrated [upon them] they see [them], when not, they see [them] not. Sometimes, even when practising dhyāna, they are liable to become distracted [and not see them].