Tibetan Book of the Dead | Part 5

[THE DAWNING OF THE PEACEFUL DEITIES, FROM THE FIRST TO THE SEVENTH DAY]

[Assuming that the deceased is karmically bound—as the average departed one is—to pass through the forty-nine days of the Bardo existence,

despite the very frequent settings-face- to-face, the daily trials and dangers which he must meet and attempt to triumph over,

during the first seven days, wherein dawn the Peaceful Deities, are next explained to him in detail;

the first day, judging from the text, being reckoned from the time in which normally he would be expected to wake up to the fact that he is dead and on the way back to rebirth, or about three and one-half to four days after death.]

[THE FIRST DAY]

O nobly-born, thou hast been in a swoon during the last three and one-half days. As soon as thou art recovered from this swoon, thou wilt have the thought, “What has happened!”

Act so that thou wilt recognize the Bardo.

At that time, all the Samsara will be in revolution; and the phenomenal appearances that thou wilt see then will be the radiances and deities. The whole heavens will appear deep blue.

Then, from the Central Realm, called the Spreading Forth of the Seed, the Bhagavan Vairochana, white in colour, and seated upon a lion-throne, bearing an eight-spoked wheel in his hand, and embraced by the Mother of the Space of Heaven, will manifest himself to thee.

It is the aggregate of matter resolved into its primordial state which is the blue light.

The Wisdom of the Dharma-Dhātu, blue in colour, shining, transparent, glorious, dazzling, from the heart of Vairochana as the Father-Mother, will shoot forth and strike against thee with a light so radiant that thou wilt scarcely be able to look at it.

Along with it, there will also shine a dull white light from the devas, which will strike against thee in thy front.

Thereupon, because of the power of bad karma, the glorious blue light of the Wisdom of the Dharma-Dhātu will produce in thee fear and terror, and thou wilt [wish to] flee from it.

Thou wilt beget a fondness for the dull white light of the devas.

At this stage, thou must not be awed by the divine blue light which will appear shining, dazzling, and glorious; and be not startled by it. That is the light of the Tathagata called the Light of the Wisdom of the Dharma-Dhātu.

Put thy faith in it, believe in it firmly, and pray unto it, thinking in thy mind that it is the light proceeding from the heart of the Bhagavan Vairochana coming to receive thee while in the dangerous ambuscade of the Bardo. That light is the light of the grace of Vairochana.

Be not fond of the dull white light of the devas. Be not attached [to it]; be not weak. If thou be attached to it, thou wilt wander into the abodes of the devas and be drawn into the whirl of the Six Lokas. That is an interruption to obstruct thee on the Path of Liberation. Look not at it. Look at the bright blue light in deep faith.

Put thy whole thought earnestly upon Vairochana and repeat after me this prayer:

“Alas! when wandering in the Samsara, because of intense stupidity,
On the radiant light-path of the Dharma-Dhātu Wisdom
May [I] be led by the Bhagavan Vairochana,
May the Divine Mother of Infinite Space be [my] rear¬-guard ;
May [I] be led safely across the fearful ambush of the Bardo;
May [I] be placed in the state of the All-Perfect Buddha- hood.”

Praying thus, in intense humble faith, [thou] wilt merge, in halo of rainbow light, into the heart of Vairochana, and obtain Buddhahood in the Sambhogakaya, in the Central Realm of the Densely-Packed.

 [THE SECOND DAY]

But if, notwithstanding this setting-face-to-face, through power of anger or obscuring karma one should be startled at the glorious light and flee,

or be overcome by illusions, despite the prayer, on the Second Day, Vajrasattva and his attendant deities, as well as one’s evil deeds [meriting] Hell, will come to receive one.

Thereupon the setting-face-to-face is, calling the deceased by name, thus:

O nobly-born, listen undistractedly:

On the Second Day the pure form of water will shine as a white light.

At that time, from the deep blue Eastern Realm of Pre-eminent Hap­piness, the Bhagavan Akshobhya [as] Vajrasattva, blue in colour, holding in his hand a five-pronged Dorje, seated upon an elephant-throne, and embraced by the Mother Māmakī, will appear to thee, attended by the Bodhisattvas Kshitigarbha and Maitreya, with the female Bodhisattvas, Lasema and Pushpema.

These six Bodhic deities will appear to thee.

The aggregate of thy principle of consciousness, being in its pure form—which is the Mirror-like Wisdom—will shine as a bright, radiant white light, from the heart of Vajrasattva, the Father-Mother, with such dazzling brilliancy and trans­parency that thou wilt scarcely be able to look at it, [and] will strike against thee.

And a dull, smoke-coloured light from Hell will shine alongside the light of the Mirror-like Wisdom and will [also] strike against thee.

Thereupon, through the power of anger, thou wilt beget fear and be startled at the dazzling white light and wilt [wish to] flee from it; thou wilt beget a feeling of fondness for the dull smoke-coloured light from Hell.

Act then so that thou wilt not fear that bright, dazzling, transparent white light.

Know it to be Wisdom. Put thy humble and earnest faith in it. That is the light of the grace of the Bhagavan Vajrasattva. Think, with faith, “I will take refuge in it”; and pray.

That is the Bhagavan Vajrasattva coming to receive thee and to save thee from the fear and terror of the Bardo. Believe in it; for it is the hook of the rays of grace of Vajrasattva.

Be not fond of the dull, smoke-coloured light from Hell. That is the path which opens out to receive thee because of the power of accumulated evil karma from violent anger.

If thou be attracted by it, thou wilt fall into the Hell-Worlds; and, falling therein, thou wilt have to endure unbearable misery, whence there is no certain time of getting out.

That being an interruption to obstruct thee on the Path of Liberation, look not at it; and avoid anger. Be not attracted by it; be not weak.

Believe in the dazzling bright white light; [and] putting thy whole heart earnestly upon the Bhagavan Vajra-Sattva, pray thus:

“Alas! when wandering in the Samsara because of the power of violent anger,

“Alas! when wandering in the Samsara because of the power of violent anger,
On the radiant light-path of the Mirror-like Wisdom,
May [I] be led by the Bhagavan Vajra-Sattva,
May the Divine Mother Māmakī be [my] rear-guard;
May [I] be led safely across the fearful ambush of the Bardo;
And may [I] be placed in the state of the All-perfect Buddhahood.”

Praying thus, in intense humble faith, thou wilt merge, in rainbow light, into the heart of the Bhagavan Vajrasattva and obtain Buddhahood in the Sambhogakaya, in the Eastern Realm called Pre-eminently Happy.

[THE THIRD DAY]

Yet, even when set face to face in this way, some persons, because of obscurations from bad karma, and from pride, although the hook of the rays of grace [strikes against them], flee from it.

[If one be one of them], then, on the Third Day, the Bhagavan Ratnasambhava and his accompanying deities, along with the light-path from the human world, will come to receive one simultaneously.

Again, calling the deceased by name, the setting-face-to-face is thus:

O nobly-born, listen undistractedly:

On the Third Day the primal form of the element earth will shine forth as a yellow light.

At that time, from the Southern Realm Endowed with Glory, the Bhagavan Ratna-Sambhava, yellow in colour, bearing a jewel in his hand, seated upon a horse-throne and embraced by the Divine Mother Sangyay-Chanma (lit. “Buddha Eyes”), will shine upon thee.

The two Bodhisattvas, Ākāśa-Garbha and Samantabhadra, attended by the two female Bodhisattvas, Mahlaima and Dhupema,—in all, six Bodhic forms,—will come to shine from amidst a rainbow halo of light.

The aggregate of touch in its primal form, as the yellow light of the Wisdom of Equality, dazzlingly yellow, glorified with orbs having satellite orbs of radiance, so clear and bright that the eye can scarcely look upon it, will strike against thee.

Side by side with it, the dull bluish-yellow light from the human [world] will also strike against thy heart, along with the Wisdom light.

Thereupon, through the power of egotism, thou wilt beget a fear for the dazzling yellow light and wilt [wish to] flee from it. Thou wilt be fondly attracted towards the dull bluish-yellow light from the human [world].

At that time do not fear that bright, dazzling-yellow, trans­parent light, but know it to be Wisdom; in that state, keeping thy mind resigned, trust in it earnestly and humbly.

If thou knowest it to be the radiance of thine own intellect—although thou exert not thy humility and faith and prayer to it— the Divine Body and Light will merge into thee inseparably, and thou wilt obtain Buddhahood.

If thou do not recognize the radiance of thine own intel­lect, think, with faith: “It is the radiance of the grace of the Bhagavān Ratna-Sambhava; I will take refuge in it“; and pray. It is the hook of the grace-rays of the Bhagavan Ratna-Sambhava; believe in it.

Be not fond of that dull bluish-yellow light from the human [world]. That is the path of thine accumulated propensities of violent egotism come to receive thee.

If thou art attracted by it, thou wilt be born in the human world and have to suffer birth, age, sickness, and death; and thou wilt have no chance of getting out of the quagmire of worldly existence.

That is an interruption to obstruct thy path of liberation. Therefore, look not upon it, and abandon egotism, abandon propensities; be not attracted towards it; be not weak.

Act so as to trust in that bright dazzling light. Put thine earnest thought, one-pointedly, upon the Bhagavān Ratna-Sambhava; and pray thus:

“Alas! When wandering in the Samsara because of the power of violent egotism,
On the radiant light-path of the Wisdom of Equality,
May [I] be led by the Bhagavan Ratna-Sambhava;
May the Divine Mother, She-of-the-Buddha-Eye, be [my] rear-guard;
May [I] be led safely across the fearful ambush of the Bardo;
And may [I] be placed in the state of the All-Perfect Buddhahood.”

By praying thus, with deep humility and faith, thou wilt merge into the heart of the Bhagavan Ratna-Sambhava, the Divine Father-Mother, in halo of rainbow light, and attain Buddhahood in the Sambhogakaya, in the Southern Realm Endowed with Glory.