Friday, April 22, 2011

In The Bardo

©2011 Joan M. Newcomb

From Wikipedia (trimmed for brevity):
     The Tibetan word Bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state"...  It is a concept which arose soon after the Buddha's passing...
     Used loosely, the term "bardo" refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one's next birth, when one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena... from the clearest experiences of reality... up to terrifying hallucinations... the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality, while for others... the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth.
     In the West, the term bardo may also refer to times when our usual way of life becomes suspended, as, for example, when we are on retreat. Such times can prove fruitful for spiritual progress, as external constraints diminish, although they offer challenges because our unskillful impulses can come to the fore...

To me, the after death Bardo is a time of releasing all the impressions created during physical life.  Everything You identified with (or yourself as) falls away.  The part of you that identified itself as personality is terrified at its demise.  But what is underneath is greater, more brilliant than the little part of you can imagine!

It seems to me we're all in the Bardo right now.  Everything anyone has believed is solid and real has been disintegrating.  The economy, stock market and real estate are some examples.  People are getting laid off from their careers and long term marriages are ending.   Things like this have been going on in individual lives forever, but we're in one of those times when it's happening with collective intensity.

It's not just material or emotional security that is evaporating.  Spiritual and energetic realities are shifting as well.  You may be a follower of one type of meditation or identified with a religious group, and find it's no longer working for you.

Sometimes this is a gradual change, that creeps up on you.  One day you realize that it's been weeks since you went to Church, or sat down to practice, and it doesn't even matter. 

Sometimes it's a sudden shift in circumstances.  Your child goes into the hospital and the rest of your life is suspended.  You go to work on Friday and told that you and a dozen coworkers are laid off.  It's shocking, and disorienting.

Often these "surprises" aren't really surprises.  You knew something was up, you had been hesitant on making future plans, so when reality presented itself, you rolled with it.  Or you 'knew' something was coming and you hunkered down and clung to the present state, so when it started falling apart the pain was unbearable.

As with the non-physical bardo, these times can be incredibly freeing, an opportunity for joyous expansion.  Or they can be times of enormous suffering, if you try to hold onto the illusion of what was.

If you can just let drop what's no longer there, you can open yourself to something bigger and better than you can possibly imagine.

This week, let go of whatever is gone (your regular schedule, that missed appointment, the old way of life, the last relationship, etc.) and open yourself to Your next Big Adventure in life!

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