The Tibetan Book of the Living Dead

Spotted elsewhere and worth a view: Here’s a Comic Book Guide to the Bardo, the Tibetan Buddhist Afterlife.

Imagine that in your final moments and in those moments that followed, your brother monks sat beside you chanting prayers and instruction to help guide you in your transition. Imagine that your circumstances were so fortunate that you’ve devoted years and years of your life to living among them, studying these teachings, and preparing your mind to successfully navigate the afterlife’s trials. All of the time spent in deep meditation, considering the attractions, the temptations, the deceptions, the terrors, … hearing again and again that rebirth into your next life is largely determined by your own perception of your own experience… hearing again and again that, although the challenges may grow more difficult in each subsequent bardo, there is still freedom available from this karmic wheel of life and death with just the realization…

… and imagine that, in your final moments, in spite of your own efforts and the efforts of your teachers, it was all lost. You didn’t recognize the clear light. Instead, you were drawn to the shiny things or you pursued by the terrors. You met god, or maybe you met the devil. You failed to see the disguise, or maybe you saw a disguise where there was none. In those moments, you never perceive the escape from any of these circumstances, even if you do somehow remember that one is always available. Instead, you were thrashed about or maybe found bliss until you settled into your next life ~ maybe with the hope that it is a better one, or at least one that will present the ideal circumstances for you to find enlightenment and end this cycle ~ but always with the guarantee that, if you don’t find that realization, there will be another… and another… and another…

On the Buddha’s enlightenment, he remembered all of his past lives. The Prodigal Son returned to a feast in his father’s home while his brothers pouted. Two criminals beside Jesus on the cross engaged him in different ways, with one blaspheming with a challenge reminiscent of the the devil’s challenges in the desert, the other contrite ~ the later given a promise of a different outcome.

What teaching from any faith ~ or from parents, teachers, peers, or from anyone else ~ is not a teaching about the bardo? What teaching about the bardo is not simply an invitation into the bardo that emanated from the bardo? Maybe they are invitations into a new life that is more favorable to encounter the dharma, a guru, a sangha, your teachers, … ~ who knows? Still, I suspect that there is something more to those teachings that can be understood just outside the teaching ~ don’t you?

Your rebirth is imminent ~ you’ll see soon enough. Good luck and godspeed, traveler…

By Joe

Puzzle Wrestler & Mountain Herder. Math & Computer Nerd since the 80s. Longtime linux (current debian, ubuntu, raspian, centos, gentoo), currently fighting feebsd. Over-complicates networks for fun, occasionally secures them for profit. Develops own tools & services (cli, web services, and lately some android). Degrees in Math, Belts in Aikido. Zen, Motorcycle, Ham Radio, Homebrew (Ale, not Radio), Coffee & Tea, some Mandolin & Fiddle, MDA Advocacy (son with Duchenne), …

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *