Tibetan Book of the Dead | Part 9



Now the manner of the dawning of the Wrathful Deities is to be shown.

In the above Bardo of the Peaceful [Deities] there were seven stages of ambuscade. The setting-face-to-face at each stage should have [caused the deceased] to recognize either at one or another [stage] and to have been liberated.

Multitudes will be liberated by that recognition;

[and] although multitudes obtain liberation in that manner, the number of sentient beings being great, evil karma power­ful, obscurations dense, propensities of too long standing, the Wheel of Ignorance and Illusion becomes neither ex­hausted nor accelerated.

Although [all be] set face-to-face in such detail, there is a vast preponderance of those who wander downwards unliberated.

Therefore, after the cessation [of the dawning] of the Peace­ful and the Knowledge-Holding Deities, who come to welcome one,

the fifty-eight flame-enhaloed, wrathful, blood-drinking deities come to dawn, who are only the former Peaceful Deities in changed aspect—according to the place [or psychic- centre of the Bardo-body of the deceased whence they proceed]; - nevertheless, they will not resemble them.

This is the Bardo of the Wrathful Deities; and, they being influenced by fear, terror, and awe, recognition becomes more difficult.

The intellect, gaining not in independence, passes from one fainting state to a round of fainting states. [Yet], if one but recognize a little, it is easier to be liberated [at this stage].

If it be asked “why?” [the answer is]: Because of the dawning of the radiances—[which produce] fear, terror, and awe—the intellect is undistractedly alert in one-pointedness; that is why.

If at this stage one do not meet with this kind of teaching, one’s hearing [of religious lore]—although it be like an ocean [in its vastness]—is of no avail.

There are even dis­cipline-holding abbots [or bhikkhus] and doctors in meta­physical discourses who err at this stage, and, not recognizing, wander into the Samsara.

As for the common worldly folk, what need is there to mention them! By fleeing, through fear, terror, and awe, they fall over the precipices into the unhappy worlds and suffer.

But the least of the least of the devotees of the mystic mantrayana doctrines, as soon as he sees these blood-drinking deities, will recognize them to be his tutelary deities,

and the meeting will be like that of human acquaintances. He will trust them; and becoming merged into them, in atonement, will obtain Buddhahood.

By having meditated on the description of these blood- drinking deities, while in the human world, and by having performed some worship or praise of them;

or, at least, by having seen their painted likenesses and their images, upon witnessing the dawning of the deities at this stage, recogni­tion of them will result, and liberation. In this lies the art.

Again, at the death of those discipline-holding abbots and doctors in metaphysical discourses [who remain uninstructed in these Bardo teachings],

however assiduously they may have devoted themselves to religious practices, and however clever they may have been in expounding doctrines while in the human world,

there will not come any phenomenal signs such as rainbow-halo [at the funeral-pyre] nor bone- reliques [from the ashes].

This is because when they lived the mystic [or esoteric] doctrines were never held within their heart, and because they had spoken contemptuously of them, and because they were never acquainted [through initiation] with the deities of the mystic [or esoteric] doctrines;

thus, when these dawn on the Bardo, they do not recognize them.

Suddenly [seeing] what they had never seen before, they view it as inimical; and, an antagonistic feeling being engendered, they pass into the miserable states because of that.

Therefore, if the observers of the disciplines, and the metaphysicians, have not in them the practices of the mystic [or esoteric] doctrines, such signs as the rainbow-halo come not,

nor are bone-reliques and seed-like bones ever produced [from the bones of their funeral-pyre]: these are the reasons for it.

The least of the least of mantrayana [devotees],

—who may seem to be of very unrefined manners, unindustrious, untactful, and who may not live in accordance with his vows,

and who in every way may be inelegant in his habits, and even unable, perhaps, to carry the practices of his teachings to a successful issue,

—let no one feel disrespect for nor doubt him, but pay reverence to the esoteric [or mystic] doctrines [which he hold]. By that, alone, one obtains liberation at this stage.

Even though the deeds [of one paying such reverence] may not have been very elegant while in the human world, at his death there will come at least one kind of sign, such as rain- bow-radiance, bone-images, and bone-reliques.

This is because the esoteric [or mystic] doctrines possess great gift-waves.

[Those of, and] above, the mystic mantrayana devotees of ordinary [psychic development], who have meditated upon the visualization and perfection processes and practised the essences [or essence mantras], need not wander down this far on the Chönyid Bardo.

As soon as they cease to breathe, they will be led into the pure paradise realms by the Heroes and Heroines and the Knowledge-Holders.

As a sign of this, the sky will be cloudless; they will merge into rainbow radiance; there will be sun-showers, sweet scent of incense [in the air], music in the skies, radiances; bone-reliques and images [from their funeral-pyre].

Therefore, to the abbots [or discipline-holders], to the doctors, and to those mystics who have failed in their vows, and to all the common people, this Thödol is indispensable.

But those who have meditated upon the Great Perfection and the Great Symbol will recognize the Clear Light at the moment of death; and, obtaining the Dharmakaya, all of them will be such as not to need the reading of this Thödol.

By recognizing the Clear Light at the moment of death, they also will recognize the visions of the Peaceful and the Wrathful during the Chönyid Bardo, and obtain the Sambhogakaya;

or, recognizing during the Sidpa Bardo, obtain the Nirmanakaya; and, taking birth on the higher planes, will, in the next rebirth, meet with this Doctrine, and then enjoy the continuity of karma.

Therefore, this Thödol is the doctrine by which Buddhahood may be attained without meditation; the doctrine liberating by the hearing [of it] alone;

the doctrine which leads beings of great evil karma on the Secret Path; the doctrine which produces differentiation instantaneously [between those who are initiated into it and those who are not]:

being the profound doctrine which confers Perfect En­lightenment instantaneously. Those sentient beings who have been reached by it cannot go to the unhappy states.

This [doctrine] and the Thödol [doctrine], when joined to­gether being like unto a mandala of gold inset with turquoise, combine them.

Thus, the indispensable nature of the Thödol being shown, there now comes the setting-face-to-face with the dawning of the Wrathful [Deities] in the Bardo.