The Chikhai Bardo [The Bardo of the Moments of Death]
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Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup version

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[Instructions on the Symptoms of Death, or the First Stage of the Chikhai Bardo: The Primary Clear Light Seen at the Moment of Death]

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The first, the setting-face-to-face with the Clear Light, during the Intermediate State of the Moments of Death, is:

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Here [some there may be] who have listened much [to religious instructions] yet not recognized; and [some] who, though recognizing, are, nevertheless, weak in familiarity. But all classes of individuals who have received the practical teachings [called] Guides will, if this be applied to them, be set face to face with the fundamental Clear Light; and, without any Intermediate State, they will obtain the Unborn Dharma-Kāya, by the Great Perpendicular Path.

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The manner of application is:

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It is best if the guru from whom the deceased received guiding instructions can be had; but if the guru cannot be obtained, then a brother of the Faith; or if the latter is also unobtainable, then a learned man of the same Faith; or, should all these be unobtainable, then a person who can read correctly and distinctly ought to read this many times over. Thereby [the deceased] will be put in mind of what he had [previously] heard of the setting-face-to-face and will at once come to recognize that Fundamental Light and undoubtedly obtain Liberation.

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As regards the time for the application [of these instructions]:

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When the expiration bath ceased, the vital-force will have sunk into the nerve-centre of Wisdom and the Knower will be experiencing the Clear Light of the natural condition. Then, the vital-force, being thrown backwards and flying downwards through the right and left nerves, the Intermediate State momentarily dawns.

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The above [directions] should be applied before [the vital-force hath] rushed into the left nerve [after first having traversed the navel nerve-centre].

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The time [ordinarily necessary for this motion of the vital-force] is as long as the inspiration is still present, or about the time required for eating a meal.

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Then the manner of the application [of the instructions] is:

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When the breathing is about to cease, it is best if the Transference hath been applied efficiently; if [the application] hath been inefficient, then [address the deceased] thus:

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O nobly-born (so and so by name), the time hath now come for thee to seek the Path [in reality]. Thy breathing is about to cease. Thy guru hath set thee face to face before with the Clear Light; and now 6 thou art about to experience it in its Reality in the Bardo state, wherein all things are like the void and cloudless sky, and the naked, spotless intellect is like unto a transparent vacuum without circumference or centre. At this moment, know thou thyself; and abide in that state. I, too, at this time, am setting thee face to face.

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Having read this, repeat it many times in the ear of the person dying, even before the expiration hath ceased, so as to impress it on the mind [of the dying one].

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If the expiration is about to cease, turn the dying one over on the right side, which posture is called the 'Lying Posture of a Lion'. The throbbing of the arteries [on the right and left side of the throat] is to be pressed.

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If the person dying be disposed to sleep, or if the sleeping state advances, that should be arrested, and the arteries pressed gently but firmly. Thereby the vital-force will not be able to return from the median-nerve and will be sure to pass out through the Brahmanic aperture. Now the real setting-faceto-face is to be applied.

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At this moment, the first [glimpsing] of the Bardo of the Clear Light of Reality, which is the Infallible Mind of the Dharma-Kāya, is experienced by all sentient beings.

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The interval between the cessation of the expiration and the cessation of the inspiration is the time during which the vital-force remaineth in the median-nerve.

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The common people call this the state wherein the consciousness-principle hath fainted away. The duration of this state is uncertain. [It dependeth] upon the constitution, good or bad, and [the state of] the nerves and vital-force. In those who have had even a little practical experience of the firm, tranquil state of dhyāna, and in those who have sound nerves, this state continueth for a long time.

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In the setting-face-to-face, the repetition [of the above address to the deceased] is to be persisted in until a yellowish liquid beginneth to appear from the various apertures of the bodily organs [of the deceased].

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In those who have led an evil life, and in those of unsound nerves, the above state endureth only so long as would take to snap a finger. Again, in some, it endureth as long as the time taken for the eating of a meal.

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In various Tantras it is said that this state of swoon endureth for about three and one-half days. Most other [religious treatises] say for four days; and that this setting-face-to-face with the Clear Light ought to be persevered in [during the whole time].

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The manner of applying [these directions] is:

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If [when dying] one be by one's own self capable [of diagnosing the symptoms of death], use [of the knowledge] should have been made ere this. If [the dying person be] unable to do so, then either the guru, or a shishya, or a brother in the Faith with whom the one [dying] was very intimate, should be kept at hand, who will vividly impress upon the one [dying] the symptoms [of death] as they appear in due order [repeatedly saying, at first] thus:

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Now the symptoms of earth sinking into water are come.

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When all the symptoms [of death] are about to be completed, then enjoin upon [the one dying] this resolution, speaking in a low tone of voice in the ear:

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O nobly-born (or, if it be a priest, O Venerable Sir), let not thy mind be distracted.

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If it be a brother [in the Faith], or some other person, then call him by name, and [say] thus:

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O nobly-born, that which is called death being come to thee now, resolve thus: 'O this now is the hour of death. By taking advantage of this death, I will so act, for the good of all sentient beings, peopling the illimitable expanse of the heavens, as to obtain the Perfect Buddhahood, by resolving on love and compassion towards [them, and by directing my entire effort to] the Sole Perfection.

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"Shaping the thoughts thus, especially at this time when the Dharma-Kāya of Clear Light [in the state] after death can be realized for the benefit of all sentient beings, know that thou art in that state; [and resolve] that thou wilt obtain the best boon of the State of the Great Symbol, in which thou art, [as follows]:

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'Even if I cannot realize it, yet will I know this Bardo, and, mastering the Great Body of Union in Bardo, will appear in whatever [shape] will benefit [all beings] whomsoever: I will serve all sentient beings, infinite in number as are the limits of the sky.'

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Keeping thyself unseparated from this resolution, thou shouldst try to remember whatever devotional practices thou went accustomed to perform during thy lifetime.

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In saying this, the reader shall put his lips close to the ear, and shall repeat it distinctly, clearly impressing it upon the dying person so as to prevent his mind from wandering even for a moment.

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After the expiration hath completely ceased, press the nerve of sleep firmly; and, a lāma, or a person higher or more learned than thyself, impress in these words, thus:

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Reverend Sir, now that thou art experiencing the Fundamental Clear Light, try to abide in that state which now thou art experiencing.

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And also in the case of any other person the reader shall set him face-to-face thus:

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O nobly-born (so-and-so), listen. Now thou art experiencing the Radiance of the Clear Light of Pure Reality. Recognize it. O nobly-born, thy present intellect, in real nature void, not formed into anything as regards characteristics or colour, naturally void, is the very Reality, the All-Good.

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Thine own intellect, which is now voidness, yet not to be regarded as of the voidness of nothingness, but as being the intellect itself, unobstructed, shining, thrilling, and blissful, is the very consciousness, the All-good Buddha.

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Thine own consciousness, not formed into anything, in reality void, and the intellect, shining and blissful, -- these two, -- are inseparable. The union of them is the Dharma-Kāya state of Perfect Enlightenment.

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Thine own consciousness, shining, void, and inseparable from the Great Body of Radiance, hath no birth, nor death, and is the Immutable Light -- Buddha Amitābha.

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Knowing this is sufficient. Recognizing the voidness of thine own intellect to be Buddhahood, and looking upon it as being thine own consciousness, is to keep thyself in the [state of the] divine mind of the Buddha.

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Repeat this distinctly and clearly three or [even] seven times. That will recall to the mind [of the dying one] the former [i.e. when living] setting-face-to-face by the guru. Secondly, it will cause the naked consciousness to be recognized as the Clear Light; and, thirdly, recognizing one's own self [thus], one becometh permanently united with the Dharma-Kāya and Liberation will be certain.

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