Tibetan Book of the Dead | Part 19



[Instructions to the Officiant]:

There are, nevertheless, many classes of those who—though reminded, and instructed to direct their thoughts one-pointedly—are not liberated,

owing to the great force of evil karmic obscurations, and because of being unaccustomed to pious deeds, and of being much accustomed to impious deeds throughout the aeons.

Therefore, if the womb-door has not been closed ere this, a teaching also for the selection of a womb-door is going to be given hereinafter.

Now, invoking the aid of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, repeat the Refuge; and, once more calling the deceased by name thrice, speak as follows:

O nobly-born, (so-and-so), listen:

Although the above setting-face-to-face teachings have been given one-pointedly, yet thou have not understood them.

Therefore, if the womb- door has not been closed, it is almost time to assume a body. Make thy selection of the womb [according to] this best teaching. Listen attentively, and hold it in mind.


O nobly-born, now the signs and characteristics of the place of birth will come. Recognize them. In observing the place of birth, choose the continent too.

If to be born in the Eastern Continent of Lupah, a lake adorned with swans, male and female, [floating thereon], will be seen. Go not there. Recollect the revulsion [against going there].

If one goes there, [that] Continent—though endowed with bliss and ease—is one wherein religion does not predominate. Therefore, enter not therein.

If to be born in the Southern Continent of Jambu, grand delightful mansions will be seen. Enter therein, if one is to enter.

If to be born in the Western Continent of Balang-Chöd, a lake adorned with horses, male and female, [grazing on its shores], will be seen. Go not even there, but return here. Although wealth and abundance are there, that being a land wherein religion does not prevail, enter not therein.

If to be born in the Northern Continent of Daminyan, a lake adorned with male and female cattle, [grazing on its shores], or trees, [round about it], will be seen. Although duration of life, and merits are there, yet that Continent, too, is one wherein religion does not predominate. Therefore enter not.

These are the premonitory signs [or visions] of the taking rebirth in those [Continents]. Recognize them. Enter not.

If one is to be born as a deva, delightful temples [or mansions] built of various precious metals also will be seen. One may enter therein; so enter therein.

If to be born as an asura, either a charming forest will be seen or else circles of fire revolving in opposite directions. Recollect the revulsion; and do not enter therein by any means.

If to be born amongst beasts, rock-caverns and deep holes in the earth and mists will appear. Enter not therein.

If to be born amongst pretas, desolate treeless plains and shallow caverns, jungle glades and forest wastes will be seen. If one goes there, taking birth as a preta, one will suffer various pangs of hunger and thirst. Recollect the revulsion; and do not go there by any means. Exert great energy [not to enter therein].

If to be born in Hell, songs [like wailings], due to evil karma, will be heard. [One will be] compelled to enter therein unresistingly. Lands of gloom, black houses and white houses, and black holes in the earth, and black roads along which one hath to go, will appear.

If one goes there, one will enter into Hell; and, suffering unbearable pains of heat and cold, one will be very long in getting out of it. Go not there into the midst of that.

It has been said, “Exert thine energy to the utmost”: this is needed now.


O nobly-born, although one like it not, nevertheless, being pursued from behind by karmic tormenting furies, one feels compelled involuntarily to go on;

[and with] tormenting furies in the front, and life-cutters as a vanguard leading one, and darkness and karmic tornadoes, and noises and snow and rain and terrifying hail-storms and whirlwinds of icy blasts occur­ring, there will arise the thought of fleeing from them.

Thereupon, by going to seek refuge because of fear, [one beholds] the aforesaid visions of great mansions, rock- caverns, earth-caverns, jungles, and lotus blossoms which close [on entering them];

and one escapes by hiding inside [one of such places] and fearing to come out therefrom, and thinking, “To go out is not good now”. And fearing to depart therefrom, one will feel greatly attracted to one’s place of refuge [which is the womb].

Fearful lest, by going out, the awe and terror of the Bardo will meet one, and afraid to encounter them, if one hide oneself within [the place or womb chosen], one will thereby assume a very undesirable body and suffer various sufferings.

That [condition] is an indication that evil spirits and Rākṣasas [or demons] are interfering with one. For this time there is a profound teaching. Listen; and heed it:

At that time—when the tormenting furies will be in pursuit of thee, and when awe and terror will be occurring—

instan­taneously [visualize] either the Supreme Heruka, or Hayagriva, or Vajrapani, or [any other] tutelary deity if thou have such,

perfect of form, huge of body, of massive limbs, wrathful and terrifying in appearance, capable of reducing to dust all mischievous spirits.

Visualize it instantaneously.

The gift-waves and the power of its grace will separate thee from the tormenting furies and thou will obtain the power to select the womb-door. This is the vital art of the very profound teaching; therefore bear it thoroughly well in mind.

O nobly-born, the dhyānī and other deities are born of the power of Samādhi [or meditation].

Pretas [or unhappy spirits or shades] and malignant spirits of certain orders are those who by changing their feeling [or mental attitude] while in the Intermediate State assumed that very shape which they thereafter retained, and became pretas, evil spirits, and Rākṣasas, possessed of the power of shape-shifting.

All pretas, who exist in space, who traverse the sky, and the eighty thousand species of mischievous sprites, have become so by changing their feelings [while] in the mental-body [on the Bardo-plane].

At this time, if one can recollect the Great Symbol [teach­ings] concerning the Voidness, that will be best.

If one be not trained in that, train the [mental] powers into [regarding] all things as illusion [or māyā]. Even if this be impossible, be not attracted by anything.

By meditating upon the Tutelary Deity, the Great Compassionate [One], Buddhahood will be obtained in the Sambhogakaya.