The Chönyid Bardo [The Bardo of the Experiencing of Reality]
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Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup version

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[Introductory Instructions Concerning the Experiencing of Reality During the Third Stage of the Bardo, Called the Chönyid Bardo, when the Karmic Apparitions Appear]

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But even though the Primary Clear Light be not recognized, the Clear Light of the second Bardo being recognized, Liberation will be attained. If not liberated even by that, then that called the third Bardo or the Chönyid Bardo dawneth.

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In this third stage of the Bardo, the karmic illusions come to shine. It is very important that this Great Setting-face-to-face of the Chönyid Bardo be read: it hath much power and can do much good.

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About this time [the deceased] can see that the share of food is being set aside, that the body is being stripped of its garments, that the place of the sleeping-rug is being swept; can hear all the weeping and wailing of his friends and relatives, and, although he can see them and can hear them calling upon him, they cannot hear him calling upon them, so he goeth away displeased.

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At that time, sounds, lights, and rays -- all three -- are experienced. These awe, frighten, and terrify, and cause much fatigue. At this moment, this setting-face-to-face with the Bardo [during the experiencing] of Reality is to be applied. Call the deceased by name, and correctly and distinctly explain to him, as follows:

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O nobly-born, listen with full attention, without being distracted: There are six states of Bardo, namely: the natural state of Bardo while in the womb; the Bardo of the dream-state; the Bardo of ecstatic equilibrium, while in deep meditation; the Bardo of the moment of death; the Bardo [during the experiencing] of Reality; the Bardo of the inverse process of sangsaric existence. These are the six.

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O nobly-born, thou wilt experience three Bardos, the Bardo of the moment of death, the Bardo [during the experiencing] of Reality, and the Bardo while seeking rebirth. Of these three, up to yesterday, thou hadst experienced the Bardo of the moment of death. Although the Clear Light of Reality dawned upon thee, thou wert unable to hold on, and so thou hast to wander here. Now henceforth thou art going to experience the [other] two, the Chönyid Bardo and the Sidpa Bardo.

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Thou wilt pay undistracted attention to that with which I am about to set thee face to face, and hold on:

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O nobly-born, that which is called death hath now come. Thou art departing from this world, but thou art not the only one; [death] cometh to all. Do not cling, in fondness and weakness, to this life. Even though thou clingest out of weakness, thou hast not the power to remain here. Thou wilt gain nothing more than wandering in this Sangsāra. Be not attached [to this world]; be not weak. Remember the Precious Trinity.

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O nobly-born, whatever fear and terror may come to thee in the Chönyid Bardo, forget not these words; and, bearing their meaning at heart, go forwards: in them lieth the vital secret of recognition.

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'Alas! when the Uncertain Experiencing of Reality is dawning upon me here, With every thought of fear or terror or awe for all [apparitional appearances] set aside, May I recognize whatever [visions] appear, as the reflections of mine own consciousness; May I know them to be of the nature of apparitions in the Bardo: When at this all-important moment [of opportunity] of achieving a great end, May I not fear the bands of Peaceful and Wrathful [Deities], mine own thought-forms.'

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Repeat thou these [verses] clearly, and remembering their significance as thou repeatest them, go forwards, [O nobly-born]. Thereby, whatever visions of awe or terror appear, recognition is certain; and forget not this vital secret art lying therein.

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O nobly-born, when thy body and mind were separating, thou must have experienced a glimpse of the Pure Truth, subtle, sparkling, bright, dazzling, glorious, and radiantly awesome, in appearance like a mirage moving across a landscape in spring-time in one continuous stream of vibrations. Be not daunted thereby, nor terrified, nor awed. That is the radiance of thine own true nature. Recognize it.

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From the midst of that radiance, the natural sound of Reality, reverberating like a thousand thunders simultaneously sounding, will come. That is the natural sound of thine own real self. Be not daunted thereby, nor terrified, nor awed.

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The body which thou hast now is called the thought-body of propensities. Since thou hast not a material body of flesh and blood, whatever may come -- sounds, lights, or rays -- are, all three, unable to harm thee: thou art incapable of dying. It is quite sufficient for thee to know that these apparitions are thine own thought-forms. Recognize this to be the Bardo.

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O nobly-born, if thou dost not now recognize thine own thought-forms, whatever of meditation or of devotions thou mayst have performed while in the human world -- if thou hast not met with this present teaching -- the lights will daunt thee, the sounds will awe thee, and the rays will terrify thee. Shouldst thou not know this all-important key to the teachings -- not being able to recognize the sounds, lights, and rays -- thou wilt have to wander in the Sangsāra.

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Chapter 1

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