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Letting Grow

Dec 16, 2020

Today’s episode is all about the most famous part of the death and rebirth cycle in Tibetan Buddhism: the bardo between death and rebirth, also called the bardo of becoming. We start with a summary of the traditional description of this bardo state, in which we’re said to have a mental body. We start off still connected with the identity of the life that just finished and end up connecting with the life we’re about to begin. This bardo is said to be a dreamlike state in which we’re blown around by our thoughts and emotions (which sounds like daily life sometimes, but moreso). 

There are two books I highly recommend if you want to read more on this bardo: Tulku Thondup’s Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche’s Mind Beyond Death. If you’re new to all this, Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth is an easier one to start with.

Teachings about this bardo state offer us some lessons for transitions, too. For instance, in the bardo of becoming, we start off still thinking of ourselves as the person who just died, and it takes a while to realize that life is over. In a transition, it sometimes takes a while to realize that we’ve finished a stage of our lives and stop spending our energy looking back. And as we get ready to leave the bardo of becoming, we start to have visions related to the lifetime we’re about to enter. Similarly, as we move through the in-between stage of a transition, we may find ourselves preparing for what comes next and beginning at least to know what we’d like for the next chapter of our lives.

And as is always true, the more we can stay awake and aware, the better we’re able to say yes to situations that feed our souls and no to what drains us. I hope today’s episode sheds some light on this super important part of the cycle of transitions.

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