Natural Appearances, Natural Liberation






Realization of Primordial Abode

51 to 56


Meditation on Holy Beings

63 to 72


Bardo of Dreams (Part 1)

73 to 79


Bardo of Dreams (Part 2)

80 to 88


Bardo of Dreams (Part 3)

89 to 97


Bardo of Meditation

98 to 108


Bardo of Dying (Part 2)

117 to 126


Bardo of Dying (Part 3)

127 to 137


Bardo of Dharmata (Part I)

138 to 145


Bardo of Becoming (Part I)

155 to 162


Bardo of Becoming (Part II)

163 to 169

p. 54 alaya-vijn~ana

"When the bardo being enters the womb of its mother to begin the process of rebirth, it is the alayavijnana that enters first; when we die, it is the last to leave the body.

The main function of the alayavijnana is to store impressions of all ... deeds occurring over the course of our countless lifetimes."

p. 63 visualization "placing our mind"

between our eyebrows : "we visualize a pure, luminous white drop the size of a pea betweeen our eyebrows".

at our heart : "We begin by visualizing our body as a puffed-up sack, similar to an inflated balloon. At the heart of the sack, we visualize a luminous, blue-orange flame, like that of an oil-lamp."

p. 67 heart-channel

"the kati at our heart ... resembles a small, clear, luminous, hollow crystal in the shape of a peppercorn slightly burst open."

pp. 74, 78 contemplations using optical devices

p. 74

"we stand in front of the mirror. We look at our reflection".

p. 78

"The disciples observe the guru through a crystal spectre that they hold in front of themselves."

pp. 80-1 prophetic dreaming

p. 80

"In the dialogues of Milinda-panha, Nagasena says, "Dreams are expressions of prophetic intuitions conceded to the lotus of the heart.""

p. 81

"The Dream Book, ancient Chinese folklore from the collections of the Jade Box Tales, offers elaborate explanations of the different prophetic interpretations of dreams."

pp. 81-3 lucid dreaming

p. 81

"Apprehending the dream state means that we apprehend, or know, we are dreaming while we are in our dream."

p. 82

"When night-time comes we pray silently before going to sleep, "... Please help me realize that I am dreaming while I dream.""

p. 83

"Very soon, we will be fully aware of our dream state while we are dreaming."

p. 85 praeliminary visualization before sleeping

"just before we doze off, we can try [visualizing] ... a comfortable bed covered with rose petals."

pp. 86, 88 visualizations to cope with dream-dispersal

p. 86

through waking : "Before we sleep, we visualize a luminous, dark blue drop the size of a pea ..., at the centre of each of our feet. ... Though dark blue, the syllables are luminous, crystal-clear and sparkling. ... Whenever I visualized these ..., I felt dark blue light rushing from the centre of my feet to my heart chakra."

p. 88

through emptiness : "We should focus our mind on a luminous, dark blue drop at our heart. The drop resembles the one discussed earlier".

p. 95 the clear light of sleep

There is "drop, the size of a pea, at the centre of our heart. We visualize the drop radiating brilliant white light, pervating our body and mind. We ... fall asleep in the luminosity ..., the clear light of sleep will arise ... . It is vast and clear".

p. 100 3-fold space

"threefold space ... comprises external space, internal space and secret space.

The external space refers to the physical ... space ... .

The internal space refers to the empty channels within us that connect our ... chakra[s].

The secret space is the empty kati channel ... of our heart. ... . ... our kati channel should appear as a tiny hollow crystal".

p. 119 ominous dreams which are signs of one's forthcoming death

"seeing oneself riding eastwards on a cat;

seeing tigers or foxes riding southwards on a corpse;

seeing oneself dressed in black and travelling downhill ...;

seeing oneself trapped in a cage or net;

seeing one's body split open by a woman and the heart taken out;

seeing oneself sleeping soundly in a woman's womb;

seeing one's self very old, yet tramping down the road bearing heavy loads;

repeatedly seeing oneself falling into an abyss."

pp. 122-3 the clear light of death

p. 122

"When the gross wind ceases, and the dying person stops breathing,

he perceives a candle[-]flame-like appearance. ...

When the wind first enters the central channel,

his clear[-]light mind starts glittering. ...

p. 123

This is the first appearance of the clear light of death. ...

During this period, the dying person experiences four successive stages of appearance called the Four Clear Lights of Emptiness.

They are, respectively, the stages of

appearance, increase,

attainment and clear light.

The last stage[, that] of clear light[,] is the second manifestation of the clear light of death -- the second time the dying person will perceive its appearance.

The stages of



attainment and

clear light

manifest in sequence like

moonlight at midnight,

the break of day,

twilight at dusk, and

the light of dawn.

At the stage of attainment, the dying person's mind perceives the appearance of twilight at dusk, the hazy evening sky. ... Following this,

the clear bright appearance manifests, resembling the light of dawn. ...

The internal sign is the inner wind reversing its direction, flowing from the central channel back to the left and right channels. When the inner wind reverses its flow, the stages of clear light manifest in reverse order :

from attainment, to increase, then back to the stage of appearance.

When it returns to the stage of appearance, the consciousness will depart from the body ... . ... The consciousness enters the intermediate bardo state and takes the form of a mental body. ... In a bardo state, the mental body can even see its [material] body lying on the deathbed."

pp. 123-5 how to abide either in the clear-light-of-death or else in the illusory-body

p. 123

"In the [r]Nyingma tradition, abiding in the clear light of death is called Dharmakaya transference. ...

p. 124

We should give verbal instructions before the person stops breathing ... . ... Then, we guide him with the following verbal instructions :

"... Death has arrived. ...

p. 125

From ... primordial clear light, also called Samantabhadri or primordial ground, arise ... phenomena. ... The aspect of cognizance and ... displays ... called Samantabhadra ... is the naturally arisen phenomena of the primordial ground. ... The primordial ground ... has never been separate from naturally arisen phenomena ... . ... We describe this as the union of Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri, personifying them in the form of a sexual embrace. ...""

p. 126

"After this, the next stage is the ... period ... that ... the inner wind reverses its flow from the central channel out to the left and right channels. The clear light of death also reverses its sequence. During this period, ... we should instruct the dying person in the details of generating himself as his personal deity. If he can achieve this, ... he will obtain liberation through attaining the pure illusory body."

p. 128 how worlds are produced by belief

"whenever someone believes in the deities, the karman which allows their realms to arise will be established.

{On the contrary, whenever the deities believe in us, the karman ('work') which allows our realms to arise will be established.}

Following this reasoning, when Buddha said there is such a thing as Pure Land, it was able to come into existence."

{Following this reasoning, when the deities said there is such a thing as the material universe, the material universe was able to come into existence.}

p. 128 any different from other religions?

"In Buddhism, sentient beings in pure lands have to practice further to attain enlightenment; this distinguishes Buddhism from other religions that consider heaven, which is a kind of pure land, to be the final destination.}

{This expectation to develop further abilities in heaven is even more pronounced in Taoism, with numerous graded official ranks to be advanced through while advancing from through the series of heavens.}

p. 129 redincarnation according to the places in the body for departure of consciousness

when the consciousness departeth via the __

then it (consciousness) redincarnateth as __

Brahma aperture

[attaineth D.akini Pure-Land]



left nostril


right nostril

yaks.a ("nature spirit")


"god or goddess in Realm of Form"


"god or goddess in the Realm of Desire"



genital aperture

preta ("hungry ghost")

anal aperture


pp. 130-1 meditation of body

p. 130

"The mouth aperture is ... the top blocking point of the defiled wind and the life wind. Lastly, we should visualize a white inverted syllable HAM at the Brahma aperture ..., blocking it too. ... . ... the dying person ... should visualize the root guru sitting on the Brahma aperture. This visualization arouses a mind of faith ... . The dying person then radiates light from

p. 131

his heart chakra, which fills his body ... . ...

Of course, ... during our lifetime ... we should ... recall our guru sitting on our Brahma aperture, and then examine our drops to see if they are rushing to our crown of their own accord."

pp. 131-2 meditation of wind

p. 131

"we visualize our central channel, running from just below the secret place (the width of four fingers down from the navel) to the Brahma aperture at our crown. The central channel is straight and saturated with wind, like a long, thin, puffy lamb intestine. It is suffused with light, white in colour with a touch of yellow ... . ... At the same time, we visualize a luminous drop at our navel channel."

p. 132

"many Tibetan Buddhist hagiographies ... record that when the dying master cried out AH {AH. = AS} in one long breath, auspicious signs such as a rainbow immediately appeared in the sky."

pp. 134-5 dharma-kaya transference

p. 134

"clear light will manifest twice (first when the gross wind ceases, and then when the inner wind ceases). If,

p. 135

during these critical times, the deceased can manifest the child clear light in his heart, it will instantly connect to the mother clear light ... . ...

Child clear light ... is sometimes referred to as clear light of the path. ... The purpose of our regular practice of visualizing the luminous drop at our heart chakra is ... so that upon our death the child clear light will promptly arise."

p. 136 sambhoga-kaya transference

"First, we block the apertures with the seed syllables; then we utter HIG KA to ... ascend to the syllable HAM at our Brahma aperture. At this time, the syllable HAM is not inverted. The Brahma aperture will naturally open. At the same time, we visualize our root guru ... sitting on our crown ... . ... We rest our mind, the luminous white drop, in our root guru's heart. ... we attain the fruit of Sambhogakaya Vajradhara".

pp. 136-7 nirman.a-kaya transference

p. 136

"the dying person should try to visualize the navel chakra ... tetragonal-shaped ... . Inside it, there is a luminous white drop with a tint of red radiating from inside. ...

p. 137

Then, instantly, we merge ... our wind into the heart chakra of the Nirmanakaya of the personal deity, and allow our ... wind to settle there in peace. ... This way, he will definitely be reborn as a human being who will be able to benefit other sentient beings."

p. 139 experiencing the antara-bhava of dharmata

"the deceased ... arises in the form of a mental body in the bardo of dharmata.

The bardo of dharmata has two stages. ... In the first stage, brilliant lights, blinding flashes and thundering sounds occur simultaneously. ...

The second stage has two seven-day cycles. In the first cycle, peaceful deities appear to the mental body. However, the lights, flashes and noise from the first stage continue ... . ...

In the second cycle, the lights, flashes, and noise intensify, and terrifying wrathful deities ... appear."

p. 155 discontinuity in the existence of the self?

"In the Buddhist point of view, rebirth is not a continuation of the individual self of the deceased."

{Only in the Hina-yana metaphysics is there any temporary discontinuity in the existence of the self upon death (when the 5 skandha-s separate from each other), but the self is recontinued (by the 5 skandha-s' rejoining each other) when relinking (redincarnation) is occurring. In the Antara-bhava of Mahayana/Vajrayana, however, there is no such temporary discontinuity, but rather instead a continuous existence all the way through to the next rebirth. From the Sthavira-vada point of view, Mahayana and Vajrayana are therefore not forms of Buddhism at all.}

"A bardo being does not exist in any particular form."

{In the Antara-bhava, the mental body of the dead is always described as having at every instant some particular shape (form). It is the atman that hath no shape (form); and the Bauddha metaphysics is in denial of the atman simply because of the denial (a denial held in common with Jain metaphysics) that consciousness could exist without having some particular shape. There is (effectively only in Hina-yana, however) an A-rupa ('Formless') series of heavens, formless in the signification that all objects-of-perception therewithin are perceived as formless; but this is not to say that (for the Bauddha) the consciousness when ensconced therein is itself formless.}

p. 156 no atman?; unascertainable lifetime?

"Neither ... the body of habitual tendencies is what we think of as a soul ... . This is especially obvious for the body of habitual tendencies that contains the habitual tendencies from countless lives.

{Do note that these factors ("habitual tendencies", "countless lives") are employed in the very definition used in Astika metaphysics for the "maya-kos`a-s" ('subtle bodies') of the "atman" ('soul').}

When the habitual tendencies take effect, we cannot ascertain in which life they were formed."

{This is in direct contradiction of the frequently-recorded words of the Buddha, wherein he stated the praecise life wherein each tendency such was formed.}

p. 156 alleged discontinuance of identity

"The mental body ... is merely an illusory appearance that embodies the consciousness of the deceased. It loses the emblematic quality of an I ... . When the habitual tendencies intensify ..., the consciousness of the deceased ... cannot give the mental body a constant identity".

{Actually, because the physical body is constantly changing its appearance (between youth and old age), whereas the subtle bodies (including both the projected astral body and that occupied during dreams) are essentially changeless (never aging) besides being indestructible; therefore it could more accurately be stated that the material body "is merely an illusory appearance that embodies the consciousness", whereas the aeternal subtle bodies always retain "the emblematic quality of an I". (When one's self be projected out of the material body, then one is able to look upon one's material body as separate and distinct, and thereupon to assert that the material body is not identifiable as occupied by the self, whereas the changeless projected body is so identifiable. This same identity of the aeternal dream-body with the self is very much perceived in dreams, wherein the dream-world is realized to be real, and the waking world to be a mere illusion; as is constantly asserted in Amerindian metaphysics.) The material body is that of intense "habitual tendencies" as imposed by materialistic law, whereas in astral projection and in dreams we are largely set free from materialistic-government-imposed "habitual tendencies", and join in preaching the anarchist insurrection against the capitalist political state of the waking world.}

p. 156 is having a body related to having a sense of self-identity?

"The main reason we grasp onto the I and mark it as a distinct separate identity is that we have a ... body. When the consciousness is separated from the body, the I loses its firmly grounded identity."

{False. One mechanism wherein "the consciousness is separated from the body" is to experience a dream without having a body (in that dream); and in that circumstance one always retaineth a firm sense of identity. [No body is needed for any sense of identity, nor is a sense of identity enhanced by having or acquiring a body (material or otherwise).]

p. 157 [quoted by the author from some traditional text]

"The bodily form of past and emergent lives

Complete with unobstructed senses,

Endowed with clairvoyance and miraculous abilities,

{It is most evident that during astral projection and dreaming, we are not confined by the repressive limitations imposed by materialist capitalism, but are divinely imparted with miraculous siddhis.}

Derived from the past actions,

{The "past actions" whence such siddhi-s are derived are largely courageous resistance to materialism and to the capitalist ideology that is the source of materialism.}

Through the clairvoyance of divine eyes,

It sees other bardo beings similar in kind."

{The "clairvoyance of divine eyes" is divinely imparted to us during astral projection, dreaming, and the antara-bhava, largely by way of deities' approval to our resistance against capitalist materialism. If ever imparted to materialists, such clairvoyance can serve to them as a warning that their misdeeds (genocides etc.) are be being divinely surveilled.}

p. 157 effects of habitual tendencies

"We cannot merely choose how we appear in our dreams. Sometimes, our appearance changes in the middle of a dream. We can suddenly get old, or young; our body can grow to the size of a mountain, or shrink to the size of an ant. How can this happen? It happens because appearamces in our dreams are directed by our habitual tendencies".

{Actually, it is in the waking-world that we "cannot merely choose how we appear", so that we "cannot deny" the effect of "habitual tendencies" during waking existence (because habitual tendencies" change only slowly and gradually, as do changes in the material body during waking life); whereas during dreaming (and likewise during projection of the subtle body), by means of requaests issued by ourselves to the dream-assembling divine council-mechanism, we may be able to obtain as a boon (and because we are during that time set free from "habitual tendencies" enforced by the capitalist government of the materialist waking-world) a yaugik siddhi of expanding (mahima) or of contracting (an.ima) the subtle body then occupied by us.}

pp. 157-8 the characteristics of the antara-bhava body and the dream body

p. 157

"No matter how gaunt we looked before we died, our mental body will look young and beautiful. ...

{This fact is remarked on in the literature of astral projection. It is also true of dreams.}

This is because the consciousness of the deceased embellishes the bodily form ... . ... After this ...

{Actually, it is because the deities, who manufacture the subtle body which we occupy during dreaming, thusly embellish the bodily form which they grant to us during that period.}

p. 158

period, the habitual tendencies propelled by our karma start to make their influence felt. This is inevitable because the mental body carries the karma of countless lives ... . ...

{The litterature of shamanism, as well as that of astral projection, commonly is lacking in a statement to this effect; though such litterature is also usually lacking in much of a description of the process of return of the soul to be redincarnated, generally. Perhaps a more copious account (as yet to be recorded/translated/published) from such sources would contain this factor.}

Karmic causes, actions and effects get tangled in a maze of intertwining nets. In this way, the influence of habitual tendencies infiltrates into the mental body."

{Some persons who view auras can perceive reticular structures to the auras. If such persons were to visit (while living) the Antara-bhava, they might be able to detect existence and nature of those nets therein.}

{Numerous deities are mentioned as being observed in the Antara-bhava. Would not these deities be involved in generating the antara-bhava body (as well as the dream body and the body of astral projection) of any mortal visiting therein? Since the Antara-bhava is their own special realm, would not they have primacy in generating all its contents, including the body of any mortals temporarily sojourning therewithin? What would be the point in worshipping such deities if they could not exercise control of even their own realm?

Likewise the deities praesiding over the Antara-bhava would arrange the interactions of any "karmic" nets; and indeed would decide which past actions (by any mortal) are to be reckoned "karmic", and in what manner of means so. Those deities' attitudes (concerning karman and ethics as pertaining to mortal humans) may differ drasticly and dramatically from prevalent human socio-oikonomic attitudes in the waking realm on this planet.}

p. 164 effects of wishes made in the Antara-bhava

People in Makau traditionally believe "in the Goddess Ama. In the bardo of becoming, the Goddess Ama can facilitate the blocking of the entrance of the womb. There is no need to investigate whether Goddess Ama really has the power or not . As long as she is considered ... of omniscient power and protection by the mental body, the mere thought of her in the bardo will be effective. ... This is because blocking the entrance of the womb depends entirely on the mental force of the bardo being".

{Every living being hath within his/her material body an astral body, and within the astral body a mental body (which twain may be successively extracted by deities). If "the mental body" were capable of exerting "omniscient power and protection", then every living being would have (which is not likely) the power ascribed to deities . What is more reasonably probable is that appealing (in prayerful thought) to any deity (or deities) generally recognized as authentic by the universal concourse of deities, will introduce the appeal into the chain-of-command among deity-groups, so that a corresponding divine response can be expected.}

p. 167 meeting of the red drop with the white drop

"for an acomplished completion-stage practitioner, ... During the dissolution of the earth, water, fire and wind in the death process, the red drop of the mother ascends up the central channel while the white drop of the father descends to the heart channel wheel. When the two meet, ... lively displays of red and white drops manifest, and great bliss arises. ...

These instructions must be practiced under the close guidance of a qualified guru. You should never attempt tantric practices relating to the union of father and mother by merely relying on books.

{The function of the guru (who is assumed to be personally in communication with the requisite deities) is to introduce the disciple personally to the deities involved, so that those deities will thereby consent to assist in the disciple's process.}

If done incorrectly, these practices ... can ... cause ejaculation {orgasm} (male or female) during the dying process and lead to a lower rebirth."

{Is this supposition that orgasm during dying will "lead to a lower rebirth" known experientially, or merely conjectural? By our own experience, orgasm can occur in a dream without its occurring simultaneously in the sleeping material body; so that it may be expected, by analogy, that orgasm might occur in a mental body without its happening in the material body.}

[our comments on pp. 155-8 & 164 & 167 were written Oct 22, 2012 (birthd.)]

Tam Shek-wing (transl. by Samten Migdron [a woman of Hong Kong (p. 178)]) : Natural Appearances, Natural Liberation : a Nyingma Meditative Guide to the Six Bardos of Living and Dying. Sumeru Pr, Richmond Hill (ON), 2011.