Tibetan Book of the Dead | Part 20


If, however, O nobly-born, thou have, because of the influence of karma, to enter into a womb, the teaching for the selection of the womb-door will be explained now.


Do not enter into any sort of womb which may be come by. If compelled by tormenting furies to enter, meditate upon Hayagriva.

Since thou now possess a slender supernormal power of foreknowledge, all the places [of birth] will be known to thee, one after another. Choose accordingly.

There are two alternatives: the transference [of the consciousness-principle] to a pure Buddha realm, and the selection of the impure samsaric womb-door, to be accomplished as follows:


In the first—the transference to a pure paradise—the pro­jection is directed [by thinking or meditating] thus:

Alas! how sorrowful it is that I, during all the innumerable kalpas since illimitable, beginningless time, until now, have been wandering in the Quagmire of Samsara!

O how pain­ful that I have not been liberated into Buddhahood by knowing the consciousness to be the self hitherto ere this!

Now does this Samsara disgust me, horrify me, sicken me; now hath the hour come to prepare to flee from it.

I myself will so act as to be born in The Happy Western Realm, at the feet of the Buddha Amitabha, miraculously from amidst a lotus blossom.”

Thinking thus, direct the resolution [or wish] earnestly [to that Realm]; or, likewise, to any Realm thou may desire,—The Pre-eminently Happy Realm, or The Thickly- Formed Realm, or The Realm [of Those] of Long Hair,

or The Illimitable Vihāra of the Lotus Radiance, in Urgyan’s presence; or direct thy wish to any Realm which thou desirest most, in undistracted one-pointedness [of mind].

By doing so, birth will take place in that Realm instantaneously.

Or, if thou desirest to go to the presence of Maitreya, in the Tushita Heavens, by directing an earnest wish in like manner and thinking:

I will go to the presence of Maitreya in the Tushita Heavens, for the hour hath struck for me here in the Intermediate State”,

birth will be obtained miraculously inside a lotus blossom in the presence of Maitreya.


If, however, such [a supernormal birth] be not possible, and one delights in entering a womb or has to enter, there is a teaching for the selection of the womb-door of impure Samsara.


Looking with thy supernormal power of foresight over the Continents, as above, choose that in which religion prevails and enter therein.

If birth is to be obtained over a heap of impurities, a sensa­tion that it is sweet-smelling will attract one towards that impure mass, and birth will be obtained thereby.

Whatsoever they [the wombs or visions] may appear to be, do not regard them as they are [or seem]; and by not being attracted or repelled a good womb should be chosen.

In this, too, since it is important to direct the wish, direct it thus:

Ah! I ought to take birth as a Universal Emperor; or as a Brahmin, like a great sāl-tree; or as the son of an adept in siddhi powers; or in a spotless hierarchical line;

or in the caste of a man who is filled with [religious] faith; and, being born so, be endowed with great merit so as to be able to serve all sentient beings.

Thinking thus, direct thy wish, and enter into the womb.

At the same time, emit thy gift-waves [of grace, or good-will] upon the womb which thou art entering, [transforming it thereby] into a celestial mansion.

And believing that the Conquerors and their Sons [or Bodhisattvas] of the Ten Directions, and the tutelary deities, especially the Great Compassionate [One], are conferring power thereon, pray unto Them, and enter the womb.

In selecting the womb-door thus, there is a possibility of error: through the influence of karma, good wombs may appear bad and bad wombs may appear good; such error is possible.

At that time, too, the art of the teaching being important, thereupon do as follows:

Even though a womb may appear good, do not be attracted; if it appear bad, have no repulsion towards it. To be free from repulsion and attraction, or from the wish to take or to avoid, —to enter in the mood of complete impartiality,—is the most profound of arts.

Excepting only for the few who have had some practical experience [in psychical development], it is difficult to get rid of the remnants of the disease of evil propensities.

[Instructions to the Officiant]:

Therefore, if unable to part with the attraction and repulsion, those of the least mentality and of evil karma will be liable to take refuge amongst brutes.

The way to repel therefrom is to call the deceased by name again, thus:

O nobly-born, if thou art not able to rid thyself of attrac­tion and repulsion, and know not the [art of] selecting the womb-door, whichever of the above visions may appear, call upon the Precious Trinity and take refuge [therein].

Pray unto the Great Compassionate One. Walk with thy head erect. Know thyself in the Bardo. Cast away all weakness and attraction towards thy sons and daughters or any relations left behind thee; they can be of no use to thee.

Enter upon the White Light-[Path] of the devas, or upon the Yellow Light-[Path] of human beings; enter into the great mansions of precious metals and into the delightful gardens.

[Instructions to the Officiant]:

Repeat that [address to the deceased] seven times over.

Then there should be offered “The Invocation of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas”; “The Path of Good Wishes Giving Protection from Fears in the Bardo”;

The Root Words [or Verses] of the Bardo”; and “The Rescuer [or Path of Good Wishes for Saving] from the Ambuscades [or Dangerous Narrow Passage-Way] of the Bardo”;

These are to be read over thrice.

“The Thödol”, which liberates the body-aggregate, should also be read out.

Then “The Rite which Confers of Itself Liberation in [Virtue of] Propensity” should be read too.


By the reading of these properly, those devotees [or yogis] who are advanced in understanding can make the best use of the Transference at the moment of death.

They need not traverse the Intermediate State, but will depart by the Great Straight-Upward [Path].

Others who are a little less practised [in things spiritual], recognizing the Clear Light in the Chönyid Bardo, at the moment of death, will go by the upward [course].

Those lower than these will be liberated—in accordance with their particular abilities and karmic connexions—when one or other of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities dawns upon them, during the succeeding [two] weeks, while in the Chönyid Bardo.

There being several turning-points, liberation should be obtained at one or other of them through recognizing.

But those of very weak karmic connexion, whose mass of obscura­tions is great [because of] evil actions, have to wander down­wards and downwards to the Sidpa Bardo.

Yet since there are, like the rungs of a ladder, many kinds of settings-face-to- face [or reminders], liberation should have been obtained at one or at another by recognizing.

But those of the weakest karmic connexions, by not recognizing, fall under the in­fluence of awe and terror:

[For them] there are various graded teachings for closing the womb-door and for selecting the womb-door; and, at one or other of these, they should have apprehended the method of visualization and [applied] the illimitable virtues [thereof] for exalting one’s own condition.

Even the lowest of them, resembling the brute order, will have been able—in virtue of the application of the Refuge—to turn from entering into misery; and, [obtaining] the great [boon] of a perfectly endowed and freed human body, will, in the next birth, meeting with a guru who is a virtuous friend, obtain the [saving] vows.

If this Doctrine arrive [while one is] in the Sid pa Bardo, it will be like the connecting up of good actions, resembling [thus] the placing of a trough in [the break of] a broken drain: such is this Teaching.

Those of heavy evil karma cannot possibly fail to be liberated by hearing this Doctrine [and recognizing]:

If it be asked, why? it is because, at that time, all the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities being present to receive [one], and the Maras and the Interrupters likewise coming to receive [one] along with them,

the mere hearing of this Doctrine then turns one’s views, and liberation is obtained; for there is no flesh and blood body to depend upon, but a mental body, which is [easily] affected.

At whatever distance one may be wandering in the Bardo, one hears and comes, for one possesses the slender sense of supernormal per­ception and foreknowledge;

and, recollecting and appre­hending instantaneously, the mind is capable of being changed [or influenced].

Therefore is it [i.e. the Teaching] of great use here. It is like the mechanism of a catapult.

It is like the moving of a big wooden beam [or log] which a hundred men cannot carry, but which by being floated upon water can be towed wherever desired in a moment. It is like the con­trolling of a horse’s mouth by means of a bridle.

Therefore, going near [the body of] one who has passed out of this life,—if the body be there,—impress this [upon the spirit of the deceased] vividly, again and again, until blood and the yellowish water-secretion begin to issue from the nostrils.

At that time the corpse should not be disturbed.

The rules to be observed for this [impressing to be efficacious] are:

no animal should be slain on account of the deceased; nor should relatives weep or make mournful wailings near the dead body; [let the family] perform virtuous deeds as far as possible.

In other ways, too, this Great Doctrine of the Bardo Thödol, as well as any other religious texts, may be expounded [to the dead or dying].

If this [Doctrine] be joined to the end of The Guide and recited [along with The Guide] it becomes very efficacious. In yet other ways it should be recited as often as possible.

The words and meanings should be committed to memory [by everyone]; and, when death is inevitable and the death-symptoms are recognized,—strength permitting—one should recite it oneself, and reflect upon the meanings.

If strength does not permit, then a friend should read the Book and impress it vividly. There is no doubt as to its liberating.

The Doctrine is one which liberates by being seen, without need of meditation or of sādhana; this Profound Teaching liberates by being heard or by being seen.

This Profound Teaching liberates those of great evil karma through the Secret Pathway. One should not forget its meaning and the words, even though pursued by seven mastiffs.

By this Select Teaching, one obtains Buddhahood at the moment of death. Were the Buddhas of the Three Times [the Past, the Present, and the Future] to seek, They could not find any doctrine transcending this.

Thus is completed the Profound Heart-Drops of the Bardo Doctrine, called The Bardo Thödol, which liberates embodied beings.

[Here ends the Tibetan Book of the Dead]