Figire 5. Tibetan Thanka of Bardo
. Vision of Serene Deities, 19th Century, Giumet Museum
Bardo Thodol depicts various types of Afterlife created by the mind of the departed Soul
Testimony from Bardo Thodol, Tibetan Book of the Dead
Regarded as the highest Buddhist metaphysic text, Bardo Thodol, "The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State", was composed in the 8th century by Padmasambhava, written down by his primary student, Yeshe Tsogyal, buried in the Gampo hills in central Tibet and subsequently discovered by a Tibetan terton, Karma Lingpa, in the 14th century. Padmasambhava is widely venerated as a second Buddha across Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Himalayan states of India
This Bardo Thodol states that when a person dies, he would find himself in one of the six worlds, which ranged from the devas at the highest to animals at the lowest, reflecting a heaven to hell scenario.
But, Bardo Thodol has a remarkable passage which shows that these "Hell" or "Heaven" forms are all created by your own thoughts. Hell images are hallucinations!
At this vitally important time, recollect the select teachings of the guru. Bardo Thodol. Bk I, Part II The Fourteenth Day p29
- O nobly-born on the Fourteenth Day, the Four Female Door-Keepers, also issuing from within thine own brain, will come to shine upon thee. Again recognize. From the east [quarter] of thy brain will come to shine the White Tiger-Headed Goad-Holding Goddess, bearing a blood-filled skull-bowl in her left [hand]; from the south, the Yellow Sow-Headed Noose-Holding Goddess; from the west, the Red Lion-Headed Iron-Chain-Holding Goddess; and from the north, the Green Serpent-Headed Bell-Holding Goddess. Thus, issue the Four Female Door-Keepers also from within thine own brain and come to shine upon thee; as tutelary deities, recognize them.
O nobly-born, on the outer Circle of these thirty wrathful deities, Herukas, the twenty-eight various headed mighty goddesses, bearing various weapons, issuing from within thine own brain, will come to shine upon thee. Fear that not. Recognize whatever shineth to be the thought-forms of thine own intellectual faculties.
Then the Lord of Death [Yama: left figure] will say, ' I will consult the Mirror of Karma'.
So saying, he will look in the Mirror, wherein every good and evil act is vividly reflected. Lying will be of no avail.
Then [one of the Executive Furies of] the Lord of Death will place round thy neck a rope and drag thee along; he will cut off thy head, extract thy heart, pull out thy intestines, lick up thy brain, drink thy blood, eat thy flesh, and gnaw thy bones; but thou wilt be incapable of dying. Although thy body be hacked to pieces, it will revive again. The repeated hacking will cause intense pain and torture.
Even at the time that the pebbles are being counted out, be not frightened, nor terrified; tell no lies; and fear not the Lord of Death.
Thy body being a mental body is incapable of dying even though beheaded and quartered. In reality, thy body is of the nature of voidness; thou needst not be afraid. The Lords of Death are thine own hallucinations. Thy desire-body is a body of propensities, and void. Voidness cannot injure voidness; the qualityless cannot injure the qualityless. Apart from one's own hallucinations, in reality there are no such things existing outside oneself as Lord of Death, or god, or demon, or the Bull-headed Spirit of Death. Bardo Thodol. Bk II, Part 1. The Judgement. p38.
- The underlying solution - repeated again and again - is to recognize that your brain is producing the visions. They do not exist. Nothing exists except as your consciousness gives it life…,
the lamas have listed or named a thousand images which can boil up in the ever-changing jeweled mosaic of the retina (that multi-layered swamp of billions of rods and cones, infiltrated, like a Persian rug or a Mayan carving, with countless multi-colored capillaries). By preparatory reading of the manual and by its repetition during the experience, the novice is led via suggestion to recognize this fantastic retinal kaleidoscope. Most important, he is told that they come from within. All deities and demons, all heavens and hells are internal. Timothy Leary, Ph.D., Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., & Richard Alpert, Ph.D. The Psychedelic Experience ~ A manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
Thine own consciousness, not formed into anything, in reality void, and the intellect, shining and blissful, -- these two, -- are inseparable. The union of them is the Dharma-Kaya state of Perfect Enlightenment. Thine own consciousness, shining, void, and inseparable from the Great Body of Radiance, hath no birth, nor death, and is the Immutable Light -- Buddha Amitabha. Bardo Thodol. Bk I, Part 1 The Bardo of the Moments of Death The Primary Clear Light Seen at the Moment of Death p8-9
O nobly-born, if thou knowest not how thus to meditate, act so as to remember the Compassionate One, and the Sangha, the Dharma, and the Buddha, and pray. Think of all these fears and terrifying apparitions as being thine own tutelary deity, or as the Compassionate One. Bring to thy recollection the mystic name that hath been given thee at the time of thy sacred initiation when thou wert a human being, and the name of thy guru, and tell them to the Righteous King of the Lord[s] of Death. Even though thou fallest down precipices, thou wilt not be hurt.. Bardo Thodol. Bk II, Part II The Judgement p39
O nobly-born, thy immediate experiences will be of momentary joys followed by momentary sorrows, of great intensity, like the [taut and relaxed] mechanical actions of catapults. Be not in the least attached [to the joys] nor displeased [by the sorrows] of that. If thou art to be born on a higher plane, the vision of that higher plane will be dawning upon thee. Bardo Thodol. Bk II, Part II All Determining Influence of Thought p39
- Comment: The form you will take after death is influenced by your thoughts. These thoughts would have been developed during your earthly life. Whatever rewards or punishments you get in the Afterlife will be your own doing! That is, the evil punish themselves!
Samsara literally means "wandering-on." Many people think of it as the Buddhist name for the place where we currently live — the place we leave when we go to nibbana. But in the early Buddhist texts, it's the answer, not to the question, "Where are we?" but to the question, "What are we doing?" Instead of a place, it's a process: the tendency to keep creating worlds and then moving into them …
This is why the Buddha tried to find the way to stop samsara-ing. Once he had found it, he encouraged others to follow it, too. Because samsara-ing is something that each of us does, each of us has to stop it him or her self alone. If samsara were a place, it might seem selfish for one person to look for an escape, leaving others behind. But when you realize that it's a process, there's nothing selfish about stopping it at all. It's like giving up an addiction or an abusive habit.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu. 2002. Samsara. www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/samsara.html
Samsara is essentially not any fixed place or realm - for it is any state of mind filled with attachment, aversion and delusion. As the enlightened have no attachment, aversion and delusion, they are forever free of the samsaric, and are never really "in" Samsara, even as they "enter" Samsara to aid beings truly "in" Samsara to be free of attachment, aversion and delusion. It is thus an error to imagine that the enlightened suffer in Samsara when they remain or return to Samsara to help relieve suffering - for, once again, Samsara is not a place. Being enlightened is also to be free of all suffering - wherever one is
What Bardo Thodol is saying is that a person will create certain images of what he will become in the Afterlife due to his merits in this life. Physically, these certain images are not real, but are allegories which will symbolise the mental conditions of his Afterlife. Those with good morality will eventually project mental conditions of their Afterlife as those of bliss and like "Heaven". But those of poor morals will trap their eventual Afterlife with adverse agonising mental conditions alike to "Hell". But, there would be no physical Heaven or Hell, only mental conditons of the Afterlife.
The stages of "Hell" described in many ancient cultures are ill-described illustrations of the corrective processes God will apply to your Photon Matrix. If your merits are good you will go through less corrections and will get more rewards. Whatever it is, these corrective proccesses will ensure every one will reach the same "Heaven"!
What is not realised is that, long ago, God made a promise that He will underdo all evil and save all.