An Elucidation of the Intermediate State of Rebirth
Herein is contained the Great Liberation by Hearing, an introduction to and elucidation of the intermediate state of rebirth, [which is an extract from] the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: A Profound Sacred Teaching, [entitled] Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention.
I bow with respect to the spiritual teachers, and assembled meditational deities.
May they effect liberation in the intermediate state!
From within the Great Liberation by Hearing, the intermediate state of reality has already been presented. Here then follows that which is known as the elucidation of the intermediate state of rebirth.
[INTRODUCTION TO THE MENTAL BODY]
Although the elucidation of the intermediate state of reality has already been given many times, with the exception of those who are greatly experienced in the meditations of the [sacred] teachings and those who have an excellent inheritance of past actions, it is difficult for those lacking familiarity with meditative experience and those with a negative disposition to attain recognition, on account of the fear and terror [induced by] negative past actions. Therefore, from the tenth day onwards, these individuals should once again be reminded [of the nature of this intermediate state], through the following words. As before, offerings should be made to the Three Precious Jewels, and the Aspirational Prayer [Calling] to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for Assistance should be repeated.2 Then, one should read aloud the following, three or up to seven times, calling to the deceased by name:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen carefully and understand! Hell-beings, gods and those with the body of the intermediate state are born in a supernormal manner. Formerly, when the visions of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities arose before you during the intermediate state of reality – you did not recognise them. Then, overwhelmed by terror, you would have fainted. Four and a half days later, upon awakening from this faint, your consciousness has again become clear and a body, resembling your former one, has arisen. This [‘body’] is described in the tantras:3
Having the bodily form of one’s past and emergent existences, Complete with all sense-faculties, and the power of unobstructed movement.
Endowed with miraculous abilities derived from past actions, Visible to those similar in kind and through pure clairvoyance.
Here, ‘past and emergent’4 means that your [present] body [which is a product of] your past habitual tendencies will resemble a body of flesh and blood, but, like a body of the Auspicious Aeon (bhadrakalpa) it will also be radiant and possess certain of the major and minor marks. Since this [state] is an apparitional experience of the mental body, it is called ‘the mental body of apparitional experience in the intermediate state’.5 At this time, if you are to be born as a god, you will come to experience the apparitional field of the realm of the gods. Depending on whichever of the realms you are to take birth in, whether that of the antigods, humans, animals, anguished spirits or hell-beings, you will come to experience its particular apparitional field. Therefore, ‘past’ means that for three and a half days you will possess the bodily form [which is a product] of your past habitual tendencies and existences. And ‘emergent’ means that, after [three and a half days], the apparitional field of the next realm into which you are to be born, will ‘emerge’. Hence, the expression ‘past and emergent’ [existences].
Whatever apparitional fields emerge at this time, do not be drawn by them! Do not become attached to them! Do not cling to them! If you cling to them and become attached, you will continue to roam amongst the six classes [of beings] and be turning towards suffering. Although, until yesterday, the intermediate state of reality arose [within you], you did not recognise it. As a result you have been compelled to wander here. Now, just as was [formerly] introduced by your spiritual teacher, if you are able to cultivate, undistractedly, [a recognition of] the essential nature [of reality], if you can rest and abide without grasping and without activity, directly, in the unwavering, naked awareness, which is radiance and emptiness conjoined, you can attain liberation and avoid wandering, yet further, towards the womb entrances. If you are not able to achieve this recognition, then visualise your meditational deity, whichever it may be, or your spiritual teacher, as being [seated] on the crown of your head and be intensely and fervently devoted. This is most important. Again and again, do not be distracted.
If [the deceased] does indeed recognise this essential nature [of reality], he or she will attain liberation and avoid roaming further amongst the six classes [of beings]. But, on account of negative past actions, recognition is not easy to achieve, and therefore, one should reiterate [the introduction], in the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen [carefully] yet again! The phrase, ‘Complete with all sense-faculties, and the power of unobstructed movement’6 means that, even though you may have been blind, deaf or lame while you were alive, now, in the intermediate state, your eyes see forms, your ears hear sounds and all your sense-faculties are faultless, clear and complete. Hence [the tantra] says ‘complete with all sense faculties’. Recognise this [sensory clarity], for it is a sign that you have died and are wandering in the intermediate state. Remember this oral instruction! O, Child of Buddha Nature, ‘unobstructed’ means that the body which you now have is a mental body. Your awareness is now separated from its physical support. Therefore, this is not a body of solid form. Accordingly, you now have the ability to move unobstructedly; penetrating to the core of all forms, you can pass through Mount Sumeru, and through dwellings, the earth, stones, boulders and mountains. Indeed, other than your mother’s womb and the ‘Indestructible Seat’,7 you can pass back and forth even through Mount Sumeru itself. Remember the advice of your spiritual teacher – for this [ability] is a sign that you are wandering in the intermediate state of rebirth. [Recognise this] and pray to the meditational deity Mahdkdrunika.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, the phrase ‘endowed with miraculous abilities derived from past actions’8 does not mean that you necessarily possess any enlightened attributes, or any miraculous ability in meditative stability, but that you have a miraculous ability which results from your past actions and accords with your past actions.9 [Consequently], you will have the ability to circumambulate Mount Sumeru and the four continents, in an instant. Merely in the time it takes to withdraw or hold out an arm, you can travel instantly anywhere you wish, just by thinking of your desired destination. Do not be fascinated by these diverse and haphazard miraculous abilities. Do not indulge in them. Of all the things which you have the ability to recall, there is not one which you cannot make manifest. You have the ability now, to manifest [any aspect of your past], unimpededly. Therefore recognise this and pray to your spiritual teacher.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, as for the phrase ‘visible to those similar in kind and through pure clairvoyance’,10 the words ‘similar in kind’ mean that in the intermediate state, those of a similar kind of birth will come to perceive one another. Thus, in the case of those ‘similar in kind’ who are to be born as gods, the gods [to be] perceive one another. Similarly, those that are ‘similar in kind’ to any of the six classes [of beings], will come to perceive one another. Do not become attached [at the sight of these beings]! Meditate on [the meditational deity] Mahdkdrunika. The words ‘visible through pure clairvoyance’ do not refer to the [clairvoyance] which results from the meritorious qualities of the gods and so forth, but they do refer to the pure clairvoyance with which those of genuine meditative concentration perceived However, this is not [a clair-voyance] that can perceive [the beings of the intermediate state] at all times. If you are intent on seeing [beings of like nature in this intermediate state] then they will be perceived. If you are not so intent, they will not be perceived. This [clairvoyance] will dissolve, as soon as your concentration is distracted.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, with a body having qualities such as these just described, you will [once again] see your homeland and your relatives, as if in a dream. Yet, even though you call out to your relatives, they will not reply. You will see your family and relatives crying and realise: ‘I am dead. What should I do now?’ Thinking this, you will be overwhelmed by intense suffering – you will feel like a fish [expelled from the water], writhing on hot sand. Although you will suffer [on realising that you are dead], this is not helpful [to you now]. If you have a spiritual teacher, pray to your spiritual teacher! Pray to the meditational deity, Mahakarunika! Although you will feel attached to your relatives, this is not helpful [to you now]. Do not be attached! Pray to Mahakdrunika, and be free of suffering, awe and fear.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, your [present] awareness, freed from its [physical] support, [is being blown] by the coursing vital energy of past actions. Choicelessly, riding the horse of breath, it drifts directionless, like a feather on the wind. To all those who are crying, you will call out: ‘I am here! Do not cry!’ But they will not hear you. Yet again, you will realise ‘I am dead’ and experience a very profound despair. Do not be absorbed by this suffering!
Continuously, there will be greyness, like autumn twilight, with neither day nor night. The intermediate states [between death and birth] will last for one week, or two, or three, or four, or five, or six or seven weeks – up to forty-nine days in all. It is said that suffering in the intermediate state of rebirth will last, generally speaking, for twenty-one days. However, since the duration [of this state] is based on past actions, a specific number of days is not certain.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, at this time the fierce, turbulent, utterly unbearable hurricane of past actions will be [swirling] behind you, driving you on. Do not be afraid! This is your own bewildered perception. Before you, there will be a terrifying, dense and unfathomable darkness, echoing with cries of ‘Strike!’ and ‘Kill!’ Do not be afraid! Moreover, in the case of very negative beings, a swarm of carnivorous ogres will arise, executors of the unfailing law of cause and effect,11 brandishing an array of weapons, and screaming out aggressively: ‘Strike!’ and ‘Kill!’ You will imagine that you are being pursued by terrifying wild animals. You will imagine that you are being pursued by hordes of people, and [that you are struggling] through snow, through rain, through blizzards and through darkness. There will be the sound of mountains crumbling, of lakes flooding, of fire spreading and the roar of fierce winds springing up. Terrified, you will try to flee wherever you can, but your path ahead will [suddenly] be cut off by three precipices: one white, one red and one black, all three awesomely frightening; you will feel as if on the verge of falling.
O, Child of Buddha Nature12, these are not truly precipices. They are aversion, attachment and delusion, respectively.13 Know now that this is the intermediate state of rebirth, and call to [the meditational deity] Mahdkdrunika, by name, and pray: ‘O, lord Mahd-kdrunika, Spiritual Teacher and Precious Jewel, save me (say your name) from falling into lower existences’ [Pray with deep commitment in this way]; do not forget!
At this stage, in the case of those individuals who have gathered the accumulations [of merit and pristine cognition] and have sin-cerely practised the teachings, one will be welcomed by [visions of] abundant riches and one will experience manifold blissful and happy states. [In the case of those individuals who are indifferent or deluded, who have been neither virtuous nor negative, one will experience neither pleasure nor pain, but only an apathetic delusion.]14* Whichever of these happens, O, Child of Buddha Nature, whatever objects of desire or blissful or happy states appear before you, do not be attached to them. Do not cling to them! Be free from attachment and clinging and mentally offer these [experiences] to your spiritual teacher and to the [Three] Precious Jewels. Particularly, if these visions are of indifference, devoid of happiness or pain, abide in the experience of the Great Seal, where awareness is [naturally present], without meditation and without distraction. This is very important.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, at this time, you will try to find shelter [from the hurricane of past actions] below bridges, in mansions, in temples or grass-huts or beside stiipas and so forth, but this [shelter] will be momentary, it will not last. Your awareness, now separated from your body, will not rest and you will feel reckless, angry and afraid. Your consciousness will be faltering, superficial, and nebulous. Again you will realise: ‘Alas! I am dead, what should I do now?’ Reflecting on this, your consciousness will grow sad, your heart will be chilled and you will feel intense and boundless misery. Your mind is being compelled to move on, without settling in one place. Do not indulge in all kinds of memories! Let your awareness rest in an undistracted state!
[The time will come when you will realise that] you have no food, except that which has been dedicated to you. As for companionship, [here], similarly, there will be no certainty. These are both indications that the mental body is wandering in the intermediate state of rebirth. Your present feelings of happiness and sorrow are [now] driven by your past actions.
[Once again], seeing your homeland, circle of friends, relatives and even your own corpse, you will realise: ‘I am dead! What should I do now?’ You will feel deeply saddened [by your existence] in a mental body, and wish, ‘O that I might obtain a physical body!’ Consequently, you will experience roaming here and there in search of a body. You might even attempt, many times, to re-enter your own body, but a long time has already elapsed in the [previous] intermediate state of reality. In winter your body will have frozen, in summer it will have decayed. Alternatively, your relatives will have cremated it, buried it in a grave, or offered it to the birds and wild animals. Not finding a way back, you will feel utterly distressed, and you will certainly feel yourself [trying to] squeeze [into the crevices] between stones and rocks. Torments such as these will enfold you. This being the intermediate state of rebirth, so long as you search for a body, you will experience nothing but suffering. Therefore give up your clinging to a body and rest in a state of non-activity, [undistractedly],
Liberation can be obtained in the intermediate state, as a result of the above introduction. However, even though this introduction is given, due to negative past actions, recognition may not occur. So again, you should call to the deceased by name and say the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, (call to the deceased by name), listen [to me]. It is due to your own past actions that you are now suffering in this way. No one else is responsible – this is solely the result of your own past actions. Pray ardently now to the Three Precious Jewels. They will protect you. If you do not pray intensely now, especially if you do not know how to meditate on the Great Seal, or if you cannot meditate on a meditational deity, the ‘innate good conscience’ within you15 will now gather together all your virtuous actions, counting them out with white pebbles, and the ‘innate bad conscience’ within you will gather together all your non-virtuous actions, counting them out with black pebbles. At this moment you will tremble with extreme fear, awe and terror. You will tell lies, saying, ‘I have not committed non-virtuous actions!’ But at this, Yama will say: ‘I shall consult the mirror of past actions.’16 In the mirror of past actions, [all your virtues and non-virtues] will be reflected vividly and precisely. Your attempts at deceit will be of no use. Tying a rope around your neck, Yama will drag you forward. He will sever [your head] at the neck, extract your heart, pull out your entrails, lick your brains, drink your blood, eat your flesh and suck your bones. Despite this, you will not die. Even as your body is [repeatedly] cut into pieces, it will be continuously revived. Experiencing being cut into pieces in this way, time after time, will cause enormous suffering. From the moment the counting of the pebbles begins, do not be afraid! Do not be terrified! Do not lie, and do not be afraid of Yama. The body which you now have is a mental body; therefore, even though you experience being slain and cut into pieces, you cannot die. [Recognise now, that] in reality, you need have no fear, because, [in truth], your [body] is a natural form of emptiness. The acolytes of Yama are also, [in reality], natural forms of emptiness – these are your own bewildered perceptions. Your body, formed of mental propensities, is [a natural form of] emptiness. Emptiness cannot harm emptiness. Signlessness cannot harm signlessness. Outside, and distinct from your own bewildering perceptions, Yama, gods, malevolent forces, the bull-headed Raksa and so on, do not substantially exist.17 Recognise this! Recognise, now, that this is the intermediate state! Place your mind in the meditative stability of the Great Seal! If you do not know how to meditate, directly examine the essence of that which is producing your fear and terror. This [essence] is a stark emptiness, completely without inherent existence in any respect whatsoever! This [stark emptiness] is the Buddha-body of Reality. Yet, this emptiness is not a vacuous or nihilistic emptiness. The essential nature of this emptiness is an awesome, direct and radiant awareness, which is the enlightened intention of [the Buddha-body of] Perfect Resource. Indeed, emptiness and radiance are not separate: the essential nature of emptiness is radiance and the essential nature of radiance is emptiness. This indivisible, naked, unclouded and exposed awareness, present as it is right now in a natural uncontrived state, is the Buddha-body of Essentiality.18Furthermore, the natural expressive power [of this Buddha-body of Essentiality] is the compassionate Buddha-body of Emanation, which arises everywhere without obstruction.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen [to me] now, and do not be distracted. By merely recognising [the essential nature of your experience] in the above way, you will attain perfect buddhahood, endowed with these four buddha-bodies. Do not be distracted! The division between buddhas and sentient beings is determined by this [recognition]. If you are distracted at this critical moment, the opportunity to escape from the swamp of suffering will be lost. It is said of this very moment:
In an instant, penetrating analysis is made. In an instant, perfect buddhahood is attained.
Until yesterday, because you were distracted, even though so many aspects of the intermediate states have arisen, you did not attain recognition. [Up to this time], you have experienced so much fear and terror. Now, if you continue to be distracted, the lifeline of compassion, suspended to you, will be cut off and you will move on to a place where there is no [immediate] prospect of liberation. So be careful.
Through this introduction, even though [the deceased] may have failed to attain recognition previously, he or she will be able to do so at this stage and consequently attain liberation.
If, however, [the deceased] is a lay person, who does not know how to meditate, you should say the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, if you do know how to meditate you should call to mind the Buddha, the [sacred] teachings, the [sublime] assembly of monks and nuns, and [the meditational deity] Mahakdrunika and pray to them. Meditate on all the fearful and terrifying appearances as being [forms] of Mahakdrunika, or your meditational deity. Remember your spiritual teacher and remember the name which you received during empowerment ceremonies in the human world.19 [Say this name to] Yama Dharmardja and do not be afraid of him. [Know now, that] even if you were to plunge down over the precipices, you would not be harmed. So, abandon your fear and your terror.
Even though liberation may not have been achieved previously, if the above introduction is accepted, [the deceased] will attain liberation at this juncture.
Yet, since there is the possibility that [the deceased] will not achieve recognition, even though the introduction has been given, it is very important to persevere. Therefore, once again, one should call to the deceased by name and say the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, your present perceptions can, like a catapult, in a instant, cast you into the most awesome states; either blissful or full of suffering. Therefore, now, [it is critical that] your perceptions are not coloured by either attachment or aversion.
It may be that you are about to take birth in the higher realms, yet at the time when the perceptions of the higher realms occur, your living relatives, now left behind, are sacrificing and offering many animals on your behalf, dedicating [this activity] to you, the deceased. Corrupted perceptions will thus arise and consequently an intense aversion may well up [within you], and this will form a connecting link to a birth in the hell realms. Therefore, whatever activities occur in the place that you have left behind, meditate on loving kindness, and ensure that aversion does not arise!
Alternatively, your mind may grow attached to your wealth and possessions, now left behind, or else, knowing that your wealth and possessions are being enjoyed and owned by others, you may become both attached to those worldly goods and also hateful towards those left behind [who are using your possessions]. As a result of this, a connecting link will certainly be formed to a birth amongst the hell beings or amongst the anguished spirits, even though you may have been at the point of attaining birth in [one of] the higher realms. However attached you may be to the wealth now left behind, you do not have the ability to enjoy it. Since it is absolutely of no use to you, abandon your attachment and yearning for the wealth that you have left behind. Let it go! Be decisive! Regardless of who is enjoying your wealth, do not be possessive! Let it go! Cultivate devotion, and imagine that you are offering these [worldly possessions] to your spiritual teacher and to the [Three] Precious Jewels. Rest in a state free from attachment and free from clinging.
Once again, even when the KarikanldharanI incantation for the dead is being recited for you and the Purification of the Lower Realms (Sarvadurgatiparisodhanatantra) is being recited on your behalf, you may perceive, with your present subtle cognitive ability, that these [rites] are being performed impurely and distractedly, and that those [who are performing these rituals] are impure in both their commitments and vows and are careless in their conduct. As a result, you may have no confidence in them, you may form a bad opinion of them, and you may become fearfully and horribly aware of their negative past actions, etc., as well as of their impure practice of the [sacred] teachings and the rituals. Feeling this, you will experience the utmost sadness, and think: ‘Alas, they have betrayed me! They have truly betrayed me!’ As a consequence of your profound disenchantment, instead of maintaining purity of perception and [feelings of] respect, negative opinions and loss of confidence will arise within you. Thus, [these perceptions and feelings] will form a connecting link that will certainly propel you into the lower existences, and, in this way, [your subtle cognitive ability and the rituals recited on your behalf] will not have been of benefit, but rather of great harm.
However impure may be the practice of the [sacred] teachings by your friends now left behind, you must maintain respect and purity of perception from the depths of your heart. Think to yourself: ‘My own perception is so polluted! How could the speech of the buddhas be impure! These [impure perspectives] have arisen as a consequence of my own impure perception, and [will appear to me] just as the flaws on my face will be reflected in a mirror. As for these [individuals performing the rituals, in reality] their bodies are the [sublime] community of monks and nuns, their speech is the genuine [sacred] teaching, and their minds are the essence of the buddhas. Therefore, I take refuge in them.’ Thinking thus, whatever activities occur in the place that you have left behind, they will certainly be beneficial to you. It is extremely important to maintain this purity of perception. Do not forget this!
Even if you are about to be born into the lower existences, [yet you do maintain purity of perception], and you perceive the relatives that you have left behind practising the virtuous teachings, unstained by negativity, and you see your spiritual teachers and masters purely practising the rituals with virtuous body, speech and mind, you will feel great joy. Simply through this [experience of great joy], even though you were about to fall into lower existences, this [joy] will form a connecting link, which will certainly turn you back towards the higher realms. Since there is such manifold benefit, do not now lapse into impure perception. It is extremely important to maintain purity of perception and to be unbiasedly devoted. So, be careful!
O, Child of Buddha Nature, in short, since your awareness during this intermediate state lacks any [material] support, it is light and volatile, and therefore, whatever virtuous or non-virtuous perceptions arise, these are very powerful. Do not be absorbed by non-virtuous thoughts! Call to mind the virtuous practices of your past! Even if you did not engage in virtuous practices [during your life], maintain purity of perception and deep devotion! Pray to your meditational deity or to Mahdkarunika, and with a powerful longing repeat the following aspirational prayer:20
Now when I roam alone, separated from loved ones,
And [myriad] images of emptiness arise, naturally manifesting,
May the buddhas [quickly] release the power of their
compassion, And may the fear of the awesome and terrifying intermediate
state be annulled.
When I experience suffering, as the result of negative past actions,
May the meditational deity [Mahdkarunika] dispel all such misery,
And as the natural sound of reality reverberates like a thousand peals of thunder,
May all sounds be transformed into the resonance of the Six Syllables.
When I am driven on by past actions, unable to find a refuge,
May the Great Compassionate One, Mahdkarunika, protect me,
And as I experience the suffering of habitual tendencies and past actions,
May the meditative stabilities of inner radiance and bliss [naturally] arise.
Say this aspirational prayer with ardent longing; it will certainly lead you on to the path. Be absolutely certain that this [aspirational prayer] will not deceive you. This is most important!
Through these words, [the deceased] will regain his or her focus, and recognition will occur. Then, liberation will be attained.
[OBSTRUCTION OF THE WOMB ENTRANCES]
Even though this introduction may have been given many times, due to the potency of strong negative past actions, recognition may be difficult. It is very beneficial, therefore, to repeat [the introduction] now, many times. Again, therefore, calling to the deceased by name, you should say the following words [at least] three times:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, if you have not taken to heart [the introduction] which has gone before, from now on, the body of your past life will grow more faint and the body of your next life will grow more vivid. At this, you will be dismayed, and you will think: ‘I am experiencing such misery! Now I will look for whatever kind of body I can find.’ Thinking in this way, you will move haphazardly and randomly towards whatever might appear and consequently the six lights indicative of the six realms of living beings will dawn; and, according to your past actions, [the light of the realm] into which you are to be born will shine the most of all. O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen! What are these six lights, you may ask? A dull white light indicative of the realm of the gods will arise. A dull red light indicative of the realm of the antigods will arise. A dull blue light indicative of the human realm will arise. A dull green light indicative of the animal realm will arise. A dull yellow light indicative of the realm of the anguished spirits will arise and a dull smoky light indicative of the realm of the hell-beings will arise. These six lights will emerge. And at this time, your [present] body will take on the colour of the light of the realm into which you are to be born. O, Child of Buddha Nature, at this juncture, the essential points of the oral instructions are extremely important.
Meditate now on the light [that dawns] as being MahakcLru-nika! Meditate on the thought that when the light dawns, it is Mahakdrunika. This is the most profound crucial point. It is extremely important, because [this oral instruction] obstructs birth.
Alternatively, you should meditate for a long time on your meditational deity, whichever it may be. [Meditate on the deity] appearing like an illusion, completely free from inherent existence. This is called [the practice of] the ‘pure illusion-like body’. Accordingly, dissolve [the form of] the meditational deity from the extremities [inwards], until it disappears completely, and abide in the [resultant] state of emptiness and radiance, where nothing at all substantially exists and where there is no subjective apprehension. Meditate yet again on the meditational deity. Meditate again on the inner radiance. Meditate alternately in this way, and after this, dissolve your awareness itself from the extremities [inwards, into emptiness and radiance]. Wherever there is space there is awareness. Wherever there is awareness there is the Buddha-body of Reality. Abide nakedly, therefore, in the state of the unimpeded Buddha-body of Reality, free from conceptual elaboration. [Abiding] in this state, birth will be obstructed and buddhahood will be attained.
Yet, those unfamiliar with meditative experience and those very weak in their practice will not be able to understand [and apply the above introductions]. Once again, overcome by confusion, they will wander towards the womb entrances. Thus, the teachings which obstruct the womb entrances become of great importance and you should, once again, call to the deceased by name and say the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, if you have not attained recognition [as a result of the introductions] which have gone before, then, based on the potency of your past actions, the perception will arise that you are moving upwards, or moving horizontally or moving downwards.™ As this occurs, you should meditate on Mahakarunika. Remember this!
Yet again, as described before, the experience will arise of being pursued by whirlwinds, blizzards, hail, or fog; and a crowd of people, and you will be trying to escape. Those who are lacking in merit will experience that they are fleeing towards a place of suffering. Those with merit will experience arriving at a place of happiness. O, Child of Buddha Nature, now, at this point, the signs of the environment into which you are to be born, on one amongst the four continents, will arise. Specifically for this moment, there are many profound essential points of oral instruction. Therefore listen, now, without distraction. Even though, previously, you have not taken to heart the essential instructions introduced to you, you can do so now, for even those whose practice is very weak can understand [and apply one of] the following essential instructions. So listen, now, without distraction.
At this stage, it is extremely important that you carefully employ the methods for obstructing the womb entrances. [Principally], there are two such methods of obstruction. These are: [first], the method which obstructs the person who is to enter the womb and, [second], the methods which obstruct the womb which is to be entered.
The oral teaching for the method which obstructs the person who is to enter the womb, is as follows:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, (call to the deceased by name) visualise now your meditational deity, whichever it may be, with vibrancy. [Meditate on the deity] as [vividly] apparent, yet completely lacking in inherent existence, like [the reflection of] the moon in water. If you do not have a specific meditational deity, then visualise the lord Mahdkarunika, again with great vibrancy. Then, [gradually], dissolve [the image of] the meditational deity from the extremities [inwards, until it disappears completely] and then meditate on the [resultant union] of inner radiance and emptiness, which is utterly free from any objective referent. This is the profound essential point. Meditate in this way, for it is said that by this means entry into a womb will be averted.
Should even this [introduction] not cause obstruction and should [the deceased] continue to draw closer to the act of entering a womb, there are also the profound oral instructions which obstruct the womb entrances. These are as follows:
[O, Child of Buddha Nature,] listen [carefully]! In the recitation of the Root Verses of the [Six] Intermediate States, the following lines are spoken. Repeat these, now, after me:21 Alas, now as the intermediate state of rebirth arises before me,
I must with one-pointed intention concentrate my mind,
And resolutely connect with the residual potency of my virtuous past actions.
I must obstruct the womb entrances and call to mind the methods of reversal.
This is the time when perseverance and purity of perception are imperative.22
I must give up all jealousy and meditate on my spiritual teacher with consort.
It is extremely important to clearly repeat these verses aloud, to arouse your memories [of past virtues], to meditate on this [prayer] and to experientially cultivate its meaning. The meaning of these verses is as follows: the line ‘now as the intermediate state of rebirth arises before me’23 explains that you are now roaming in the intermediate state of rebirth. As an indication of this, if you look into water, you will not see your reflection. Your body does not even cast a shadow. These are both signs that you do not have a solid body of flesh and blood, but that you are roaming, with a [subtle] mental body, in the intermediate state of rebirth.
Now, therefore, you ‘must with one-pointed intention concentrate your mind’,24 undistractedly. At this moment, this [singularity of] intention is by itself the most important factor. It is like a horse being controlled by the use of a bridle. Whatever your intention focuses upon, this will come about. Do not turn your mind to negative past actions! Call to mind, now, your connections in the human world with the [sacred] teachings and instructions, remember the empowerments and oral transmissions [previously received], remember [your connection with] this Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States, and so forth. It is extremely important that you ‘resolutely connect with the residual potency of your virtuous past actions’.25 Do not forget! Do not be distracted! The present moment is the dividing-line between progression and regression. The present moment is the time when, by lapsing into laziness, even for an instant, you will experience constant suffering. The present moment is the time when, by concentrating with a singular intention, you will achieve constant happiness. Concentrate your mind with a single-pointed intention.
‘Resolutely connect with the residual potency of your virtuous past actions.’
Now is the time when you must obstruct the womb entrances. It is said [in the verses] that you ‘must obstruct the womb entrances and call to mind the methods of reversal. This is the time when perseverance and purity of perception are imperative’.26 You have now arrived at that stage. Your priority now is to obstruct the womb entrances. There are five methods which will bring about obstruction of the womb entrances, so keep them carefully in mind.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, at this stage, the perception will arise of a male and a female engaging in sexual intercourse. Upon perceiving this, do not enter between the male and the female, but be mindful and ‘meditate on’ the male and the female as being your ‘spiritual teacher with consort’.27 Prostrate yourself before them and make offerings, emanating these with your mind. Be intensely devoted and request instructions from [your spiritual teacher and consort]. Just by intently focusing your thought in this way, the womb entrances will certainly be obstructed.
Should [the womb entrances] not be successfully obstructed through this method and you are nonetheless drawn ever nearer to entering the womb, then meditate now on the spiritual teacher and consort as being your personal meditational deities, whichever these may be, or [if you do not have a personal meditational deity], meditate on the spiritual teacher and consort as being Mahdkdru-nika and his consort. Again, make offerings, emanating these with your mind and generate the thought very intently: ‘I request [the attainment of your] spiritual accomplishment!’ Thereby, the womb entrances will be obstructed.
Should even this not obstruct the womb entrances, and you are still drawn ever nearer to entering the womb, the third method, which reverses attachment and aversion, is now to be revealed to you. There are four modes of birth: birth from an egg, birth from a womb, supernormal birth, and birth from warmth and moisture.28Among these, the birth from an egg and birth from a womb are very similar, in that in both cases you will see the male and the female engaged in sexual union, as [described] above. If, based on either attachment or aversion, you enter a womb at this time, you will be born as a horse, bird, dog, human, or whatever is appropriate. If you are to be born as a male, you will experience the perceptions of a male. You will feel intense aversion towards the father and you will feel jealousy and attachment towards the mother. If you are to be born as a female, you will experience the perceptions of a female. You will feel intense envy and jealousy towards the mother and you will feel intense attachment and affection towards the father. This [emotional arousal] will cause you to enter a womb. Here you will experience the ‘coemergent delight’, in the midst of the meeting between the sperm and the ovum. From that state of bliss you will faint into unconsciousness, and as time passes, the embryo will come to maturity in the womb, moving through [its various stages of development], that is, the clotting of the embryo, the oval elongation of the embryo,29 and so forth until finally, you will emerge [from the womb] and open your eyes. Now, you will have turned into a puppy. Previously having been a human being, you will now have become a dog. So consequently, you will suffer in a dog-kennel, or similarly, in a pigsty, or an anthill, or a wormhole, or else you may be born as a baby bull, a goat, a sheep and so forth. There is no way back. You will experience all manner of sufferings in a state of great obscurity and delusion. Through this process you will continue to remain within the six classes of living beings, including the realms of the hell beings and the anguished spirits. You will be completely drained by boundless sufferings. There is nothing more awesome or frightening than this! Oh dear! This is truly terrifying! Oh dear, Oh dear, in this way, those who lack the oral instruction of a genuine spiritual teacher will indeed fall into the great abyss of cyclic existence and be tortured unbearably by continuous sufferings. Rather than this, listen to my words! Understand this instruction of mine. I will reveal now an oral instruction which obstructs the womb entrances, through the reversal of attachment and the reversal of aversion. Listen and understand this well! It is said [in the Root Verses of the Six Intermediate States/:30
J must obstruct the womb entrances and call to mind the methods of reversal.
This is the time when perseverance and purity of perception are imperative.
I must give up all jealousy and meditate on my spiritual teacher with consort.
As is described [in the oral instruction] above, if you are to be born as a male, you will feel attachment towards the mother and aversion towards the father. If you are to be born as a female, you will feel attachment to the father and aversion towards the mother. Thus you will come to experience jealousy, [a conflict of attachment and aversion]. Specific to this stage, there is a profound oral instruction. O, Child of Buddha Nature, when the feelings of attachment and aversion arise, meditate as follows: ‘Alas, sentient beings such as I, with such negative past actions, have, up until now, roamed in cyclic existence. I have continued to wander in this way, being driven on by my feelings of attachment and aversion. If, especially at this time, I continue to be influenced by attachment and aversion, there is a danger that I will roam into the limitlessly [diverse] states of cyclic existence and risk sinking into the ocean of suffering, for a very long time. Therefore, now, from the very beginning, I must not generate attachment or aversion. Oh dear, Oh dear! As of now, I shall never again be motivated by attachment or aversion.’ By concentrating intently on this thought, as it is said in the tantras, the womb entrances will be obstructed by this [singular intent] alone. O, Child of Buddha Nature, do not be distracted! Concentrate your mind on this thought, with a one-pointed intention.
Yet if, even having done this, the womb entrances are still not obstructed and [the deceased] draws ever nearer to entering a womb, then the womb entrances should be obstructed by giving the oral instruction on the unreal and illusion-like nature [of all phenomena].31
[O, Child of Buddha Nature], meditate in the following way! ‘Alas! The father and the mother [in sexual union], the rain, the blackness, the hurricane, the thunderous sound, the fearful and terrifying experiences, the nature of these and of all phenomena is illusion-like. In whatever form [phenomena] arise, they are not real. All substantial things are unreal and false, like a mirage. They are not permanent. They are not changeless. So what is the purpose of my attachment [to these perceptions]? What is the purpose of my awe and terror? That which is non-existent, I am seeing as existent! [In reality], all these things [that I perceive] are the perceptions of my own mind. Yet, the essential nature of mind is primordially non-existent, like an illusion. So how is it possible for things to exist externally, in their own right? Since I have not understood this before, I have [always] regarded the non-existent as existent. I have regarded the unreal as real. I have regarded illusions as truth. This is why I have roamed in cyclic existence for such a long time. Now, yet again, if I do not realise that all these [phenomena] are illusions, I will continue to roam in cyclic existence, interminably, and without doubt, I will drown in a swamp of every manner of suffering. Now, [I must realise that] all these [phenomena] are completely devoid of substantial existence, even for a single instant. [In reality], they are like a dream, like an illusion, like an echo, like a celestial city, like a mirage, like a reflection, like an optical illusion, like the moon [reflected] in water. It is absolutely certain that these [phenomena] are not truly real, but that they are false. Through this singular resolve, I will blow apart my apprehension of their true existence. Through utter confidence in this [meditation], my apprehension of self-existence will be reversed.’ By knowing from the depths of your heart that all these [phenomena] are unreal, the womb entrances will certainly be obstructed.
However, if, despite this [teaching] being given, the apprehension of true existence is not shattered, and the womb entrances are therefore not obstructed and [the deceased] draws ever nearer to entering a womb, then there is a [final] profound oral instruction:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, if, even after having engaged in the above [meditation], the womb entrances have still not been obstructed, now, according to the fifth [profound oral instruction], you must obstruct the womb entrances by meditating on inner radiance?32 The method of meditation is as follows: ‘Alas! All [seemingly] substantial phenomena are [expressions of] my own mind. Yet, [in reality], this mind is of the nature of emptiness, it is beyond creation and beyond cessation.’ By focusing your thought in this way, your mind should [naturally] return to an uncontrived and stainless state. Let the mind rest in this, its natural state, directly in itself, in the same way, for example, as water is poured into water. Let [the mind] rest in its natural flow, clear, uncon-stricted, uncontrived and relaxed.33 [By following this method] you can be sure that the womb entrances to the four modes of birth will certainly be obstructed. Meditate again and again in this way, until the womb entrances are closed.
Set down above are several profound and genuine instructions for effecting the obstruction of the womb entrances. For those with high, average or low ability, it is impossible not to be liberated by these [instructions]. This is because: first, consciousness in the intermediate state is endowed with an, albeit corrupt, supernormal cognitive ability. Therefore, whatever one says [to the deceased] is heard by the deceased. Second, even if the deceased was deaf or blind [while in the human world], now, [in the intermediate state], all the sensory faculties will be complete and therefore whatever is said will be apprehended. Third, since the deceased is continuously being overwhelmed by fear and terror, there is an undistracted concentration on what to do;.therefore, what is said will be listened to. Fourth, since the consciousness has no [physical] support, it is easy to guide and it can penetrate to the essence of whatever is focused upon. [Additionally], since the power of retention is now many times clearer, even the mentally weak will have, in the intermediate state, a lucid awareness, by virtue of their past actions. Hence, they will have the gift of knowing how to meditate on that which is taught and the gift [to assimilate] such points [of instruction]. These are the reasons why the performance of rituals on behalf of the dead is beneficial. Indeed, it is extremely important to persevere in the reading aloud of this Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States for the entire forty-nine days. For if liberation is not achieved at one introduction, it can be achieved at another. This is the reason why, not just one, but many introductions should be given.
[CHOOSING A WOMB ENTRANCE]
Then again, there are several kinds [of persons] who do not achieve liberation, despite having received the above introductions and having been taught the above visualisation techniques. This [lack of ability] comes about through limited familiarity with virtuous past actions, extensive primal familiarity with non-virtuous past actions, and the potency and great force of negative obscurations.
So, at this stage, if the womb entrances have still not been [successfully] obstructed [as described] above, there is a profound oral instruction for choosing an [appropriate] womb entrance,34 which should now be presented. Again, one should request the assistance of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, take refuge in [the Three Precious Jewels] and cultivate an altruistic intention. Then, as before, calling to the deceased by name, three times, one should say the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, (repeat the name of the deceased), listen [carefully]. Even though many [authentic] introductions to the instructions have previously been given to you, up until this stage, you have not taken these to heart. Now, if you have been unable to obstruct the womb entrances, the time has actually come for you to assume a body. There are [not just one, but] several different kinds of profound [and genuine] instructions which relate to your choice of an appropriate womb entrance. So comprehend these well. Do not be distracted. [Listen] without distraction! Understand, and maintain a firm intention!
O, Child of Buddha Nature, now, [if you are to be born as a human] the indications and signs which relate to the environment into which you may be born, on one amongst the [four] continents, will arise. You must recognise these [indications]! Indeed, you must choose the continent based on [a careful examination of these] indications of the environment into which you may be born.
If you are to take birth on the Eastern Continent, Videha, you will see a lake, adorned by male and female swans. Do not be drawn towards this [place]! Call to mind the methods of reversal [and apply these]! For were you to go there, even though it is a happy and tranquil place, it is an environment where the [sacred] teachings do not flourish. So do not enter [this continent]!
If you are to take birth on the Southern Continent, Jambudvipa, you will see grand and delightful mansions. If indeed you can enter here, do so!
If you are to take birth on the Western Continent, Aparagodaniya, you will see a lake adorned [around its shores] by male and female horses. Do not be drawn towards this place! Call to mind the methods of reversal [and apply these]! For even though it is a place of great wealth and [abundant] resources, it is an environment where the [sacred] teachings do not flourish. So do not enter [this continent]!
If you are to take birth on the Northern Continent, Uttarakuru, you will see a lake adorned [around its shores] by cattle or a lake adorned by trees. Recognise these appearances as indications of the birth that you are about to assume! Do not enter there! For even though this is a place where there is longevity and which has merit, it is an environment where the [sacred] teachings do not flourish. So do not enter [this continent]!
If you are to take birth as a god you will see delightful celestial palaces, many-storeyed and composed of diverse jewels. If indeed you can, you should enter here!
If you are to take birth as an antigod, you will see exquisite groves and spinning wooden torches [creating] wheels of fire. Do not enter there, under any circumstances! Call to mind the methods of reversal [and apply these]!
If you are to take birth as an animal, you will see rocky caverns, empty hollows and straw sheds, shrouded by mist. Do not enter there!
If you are to take birth as an anguished spirit, you will see tree-stumps, black protruding silhouettes, blind desolate gorges, or total darkness. Were you to go there, you would be born as an anguished spirit and experience the manifold sufferings of [insatiable] hunger and thirst. Do not enter there! Call to mind the methods of reversal [and apply these]! Be courageous and strong!
If you are to take birth as a hell being, you will hear the songs of those of negative past actions. Or, quite simply, you will feel powerless and compelled to enter. Whereupon, the perception will arise that you are moving into a land of darkness, where there are black and reddened houses, black earth-pits and black roads. Were you to be drawn to this place, you would enter the hells, and experience the [searing] unbearable sufferings of heat and cold. Be careful! Do not enter into the midst of this, for there will be no opportunity to turn back. Do not enter there, under any circumstances! As it is said [in the root verses]: ‘You must obstruct the womb entrances and call to mind the methods of reversal.’ These are [wholly] necessary now!
O, Child of Buddha Nature, although you do not wish to move forward, you are powerless not to do so. The avenging forces, who are the executors of the unfailing laws of cause and effect, will be pursuing you. You will have no choice but to move forward. Before you, the avengers and executors will be leading the way. The experience will arise of trying to flee from these forces, of trying to flee from the darkness, from the most violent windstorms, from the [thunderous] tumult, the snow, the rain, the hail and the turbu-lent blizzards, which swirl around you. [Frightened], you will set off to seek a refuge and you will find protection inside an enclosed space, such as within the mansions, just described, or in rock-shelters, or holes in the ground, or amongst trees, or within the bud of a lotus flower. Hiding here, you will be very hesitant to come out, and you will think: ‘I should not leave here now.’ You will be very reluctant to be separated from this protected place and you will become utterly attached to it. Then, because you are so very hesitant to go outside, where you would be confronted by the fears and terrors of the intermediate state, you will, because of this fear and awe, continue to hide away. Thus, you will assume a body, however utterly bad that may be, and you will, [in time], come to experience all manner of sufferings. This [experience of wanting to hide] is a sign that you are being obstructed by malignant forces and carnivorous ogres. Particularly related to this stage, there is a profound oral instruction. Listen, therefore, and understand!
At this time, when you are being pursued by avenging forces and you feel powerless [to escape] and you are terrified and frightened, you must, in an instant and with perfect recall, visualise the Transcendent Lord Mahottara Heruka, or Hayagriva, or Vajrapani, or else, if you have one, your personal meditational deity. [Visualise the deity] as having a huge buddha-body, with thick limbs, standing upright, in a terrifying wrathful manifestation, which pulverises every form of obstructing force. [By virtue of this practice], insulated from the avengers by the blessing and compassion [of the meditational deity], you will secure the ability to choose a womb entrance. This is a profound and genuine crucial point of the oral instructions. So, understand this now!
Moreover, O, Child of Buddha Nature, the gods [inhabiting the form realms] of meditative concentration, and similar beings [of the higher realms], take birth through the potency of their meditative stability?35 Also, certain classes of malevolent forces, including the anguished spirits, arise on the basis of the transformation of their mental body itself during this very [intermediate state], through a shift in their mode of perception. [In this way], they assume the forms of an anguished spirit, malign force or carnivorous ogre, capable of displaying diverse miraculous acts. The anguished spirits who reside in the ocean depths, the anguished spirits who move through space, the eighty thousand classes of obstructing forces, and so forth, all come into existence consequent on such a shift in their mode of perception, while [still] in the mental body.
At this time, therefore, [while visualising the wrathful deity] it is essential that you hold in mind the meaning of emptiness, [the essence of] the Great Seal. If you are not able to practise in this way, you must cultivate your experience of the illusion-like natural expressive power [of actual reality]. If you are unable even to practise in that way, you should meditate on the meditational deity Mahakdrunika, without allowing your mind to experience attachment, in any respect whatsoever. Through [practising this effectively], buddhahood will be attained in the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, during this intermediate state.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, if, due to the potency of your past actions, you must at this stage enter a womb, a further teaching on the methods of choosing a womb entrance is now to be taught. Listen, [carefully], therefore! Do not just move towards whatever womb entrance appears to you. If, whilst being pursued by the avenging forces [of the laws of cause and effect], you are powerless [and unable to resist] the process of entering [a womb], then you must, at this time, meditate on Hayagrlva. Since you now possess a subtle supernormal cognitive ability, you will [clearly] apprehend all the [potential] birthplaces as they arise, in sequence. Therefore, make your choice, [based on the examination of the indications and based on the instructions]! There are two kinds of oral instruction [which can now be applied]: [first], the oral instructions for transferring the consciousness to the pure buddha fields36 and [second], the instructions for choosing a womb entrance within impure cyclic existence. Therefore, [listen carefully and] do as follows:
First, the transference of consciousness to the utterly pure realms of the sky-farers is effected by those of highest ability, by directing their intention as follows. ‘Alas! I am deeply sad that even after an infinite “incalculable aeon”, I am still left behind in this swamp of cyclic existence. How dreadful it is, that while so many have attained buddhahood in the past, I have still not achieved liberation. Now, this cycle of existence disgusts me! It horrifies me! I have long been led astray by it! Now, the moment approaches for me to move forward! Now, I must take birth, miraculously, in the bud of a lotus flower, in the presence of the Buddha Amitdbha, in the western Buddha field of the Blissful (Sukhavati)!’ Focus your intention, concentratedly, on this thought! [It is essential that you make this effort!] Alternatively, you can focus your intention on whichever buddha field you wish. On Manifest Joy (Abhirati), on Dense Array [Ghanavyilha), on Alakdvatl, on Mount Potdlaka, or [you may wish to focus] on coming into the presence of [Padmasambhava of] Oddiydna, in the celestial palace of Lotus Light, or indeed on whichever buddha field you wish to enter. Be single-minded! Do not be distracted! Immediately upon establishing [this intention], you will take birth in the [chosen] buddha field. Yet again, alternatively, if you wish to proceed into the presence of Maitreya in [the realm of] The Joyful (Tusita), think as follows: ‘At this juncture in the intermediate state, the moment has come for me to proceed into the presence of the king of the [sacred] teachings, Maitreya, in [the realm of] The Joyful. Therefore, it is there that I will go!’ If you focus your intention on this thought, you will take birth, miraculously, in the heart of a lotus, in the presence of Maitreya.
Alternatively, if you are unable to accomplish this [transference], or if you desire to enter a womb or you are obliged to enter one, then there are the following instructions on choosing a womb entrance within impure cyclic existence. Therefore, listen [carefully]. Utilising the supernormal cognitive ability which you now possess, examine the continents once again, as just described, and make your choice. You must enter a land where the [sacred] teachings flourish!
[Be warned, however!] It could be that, [in reality], you are about to take birth, by entering into a substance which is fetid and polluted, and yet that filthy mass will be perceived by you as sweet-smelling and you will be drawn towards it and take birth within it. Therefore, whatever such [attractive] appearances may arise, do not grasp at them as substantially real! Ensure that you remain utterly free from the symptoms of attachment and aversion, and on that basis choose an excellent womb entrance.
It is extremely important that your motivation is firmly concentrated [as you approach the womb entrance]. Therefore think as follows: ‘Ah! For the sake of all sentient beings, I shall be born as a universal monarch, or [acting purely] like a great [dignified] sal tree, I shall be born into the brahman class, or as the child of an accomplished master, or into a family which maintains an immaculate lineage of the [sacred] teachings, or into a family where the mother and father are deeply devout. Then, once I have taken on a body which is blessed with the merit of being able to act on behalf of all sentient beings, I shall [dedicate myself to] acting on their behalf!’ You must concentrate your motivation on this thought and [thus] enter the womb.
As you enter the womb, consecrate it [by perceiving it] as a celestial palace of the deities?37 Be full of devotion. Ensure that you enter whilst praying to and imagining that you are receiving empowerments from the conquerors of the ten directions and from their sons, as well as from the meditational deities and, in particular, from Mahdkdrunika.
[However be warned], for as you make this choice of a womb entrance, there is a risk of error. There is the risk of error when, through the potency of past actions, an excellent womb entrance is perceived as a bad one, and when a bad womb entrance is perceived as a good one. At this time, the essential points of the teaching are crucial. Therefore, once again, you should act as follows. Even though perceptions of an excellent [womb entrance] may occur, do not become attached to these. And [conversely] even though perceptions of a poor [womb entrance] may occur, do not feel aversion. The essential point of the profound and genuine [instructions] is that you enter the womb in a state of great equanimity, utterly free from [the dichotomies of] good and bad, acceptance and rejection, or attachment and aversion.
Nevertheless, with the exception of certain persons who have experience of this [equanimity] it is difficult [for beings] to sever themselves from the deep-seated and long-lasting disease of negative habitual tendencies. Therefore, if [the deceased] remains unable to be free from attachment and aversion, in the above manner, such negative beings who are of the lowest capacity may seek refuge in the animal realms or similar [kinds of inferior existences]. In order to counteract this, again calling to the deceased by name, you should speak as follows:O, Child of Buddha Nature, if you do not know how to choose a womb entrance and you are unable to give up your attachment and your aversion, then, regardless of which of the above appearances arise, you must call out, by name, to the Three Precious Jewels. Take refuge in them! Pray to Mahdkdrunika! Go forward with your head held high. Recognise that this is the intermediate state! Give up your attachment and your clinging to the friends, sons, daughters and relatives that you have left behind. These [attachments] are not helpful [to you now]. Enter into the blue light of the human realm. Enter into the white light of the realm of the gods. Enter into the mansions of precious jewels and the gardens of delight.
This [introduction] should be enunciated up to seven times. Then one should pray to the buddhas and bodhisattvas, [reciting the Aspirational Prayer Calling to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for Assistance]38 Then one should read aloud, up to seven times, the Aspirational Prayer which Protects from Fear of the Intermediate States, the Root Verses of the [Six] Intermediate States, and the Aspirational Prayer which Rescues from the Dangerous Pathways of the Intermediate States?39 Then, one should also read aloud, clearly and with correct pronunciation, the Liberation by Wearing: Natural Liberation of the Psycho-physical Aggregates. And you should also read aloud the Spiritual Practice: Natural Liberation of Habitual Tendencies?40
Thus, [in summary], by acting correctly, yogins with high realisation will [successfully] effect the transference of consciousness at the moment of death, and, being spared the necessity of having to wander through the intermediate states, will attain liberation in an ascending and core-penetrating manner. Certain others, below these [yogins in ability], who have achieved [direct] meditative experience, will recognise the inner radiance of reality, at the culmination of the intermediate state of the time of death, [and will, similarly, attain buddhahood] in an ascending and core-penetrating manner. Others, below these, in accord with their inheritance of past actions and their particular level of ability, will attain liberation at one [moment] or at another, during the [respective] weeks [which follow the moment of death], as the visions of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities gradually arise in the intermediate state of reality. Since there is a succession of dangerous passageways, recognition will occur at an appropriate juncture [during the intermediate state of reality] and liberation will follow.
However, those who have a very weak inheritance of [positive] past actions, those who are greatly clouded by negative obscuration and those who are burdened by the most non-virtuous past actions, will be obliged to roam downwards into the intermediate state of rebirth. Here, as before, since there are different levels of introduction, like the rungs of a ladder, recognition will occur, if not at one stage, then at another; and thereby liberation will follow.
But if those, just mentioned, who have a weak inheritance of [positive] past actions, do not achieve recognition and are accordingly overcome by fear and terror, then, there is a graded series of different forms of instruction [for obstructing, and] for choosing, the womb entrance. Thus, if recognition does not occur in the course of one such teaching, then, these individuals will be introduced to yet another [instruction] and upon understanding the [appropriate] visualisation technique they will achieve the inestimable bounty of the higher existences. Even if one is, like a beast, the lowest of the low, through the munificence of taking refuge, one will avoid birth in inferior existences and assume a precious human body, [blessed] with the benefits of freedom and favourable opportunities. Then, in the life to come, one will meet a spiritual teacher or spiritual friend, and one will receive the teachings, and thereby liberation will follow.
This [sacred] teaching, when encountered in the intermediate state of rebirth, is an [oral] instruction that connects [the deceased] with their residual inheritance of virtuous past actions. This is why it [is said to] resemble a connecting tube which [re-establishes continuity] when inserted into a broken water channel. Therefore, [based on the veracity of this method], it is impossible not to be liberated upon hearing this teaching, even for those of the greatest negativity. This is because, during the intermediate states, both the compassionate invitation of all the [Peaceful and Wrathful] Conquerors and the invitation of the manifestations of the malevolent and obstacle-causing forces arise simultaneously. As this occurs, merely by hearing this [sacred] teaching, the mode of perception [of the deceased] is transformed and liberation is thereby attained.
Further, this transformation is easy to effect because [the deceased] now possesses a [subtle] mental body and not a body of flesh and blood; the deceased continues to see and hear, with a subtle supernormal cognitive ability based on the potency of past actions, however far he or she has wandered into the intermediate states. [Thus], by sustaining mindfulness [of the teaching], the deceased is capable of transforming his or her perception in an instant. This is why [the reminder of the teaching] is extremely beneficial. Its impact is like that of a catapult machine; in other words, it resembles the way in which a huge tree-trunk, incapable of being lifted by a hundred men, can be easily steered wherever one wants in a moment, when it is floated in water. [In essence, the impact of hearing this doctrine] resembles the turning of a horse by its bridle.
All those who have died should be approached in the manner [here described]. If the corpse is present, then a friend should sit close to it and repeatedly read aloud this succinct reminder. This reading should continue [at least] until blood and serum emerge from the nostrils [of the deceased]; and until then, the corpse must not be disturbed.
The commitments which relate to this practice are as follows: no living creatures should be killed in dedication to the dead person; relatives and friends, whether oneself or others, should not cry, shout, mourn or wail in the presence of the corpse; and instead should engage in as much virtuous activity as possible.
Further, it would be extremely beneficial if this [sacred] teaching of the Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States is recited as a complement to [other systems of] meditative guidance, irrespective of the category of the [sacred] teachings to which they belong.
Further, this text should be recited constantly. Its words and meaning should be learnt by heart. Then, if one’s health permits, when [the onset of] the intermediate state of the time of death becomes certain, and the signs of [approaching] death are recognised, one should read this text aloud to oneself, and reflect on its words and meaning. If one’s health does not allow this, then entrust the book to a fellow Buddhist for him or her to read aloud. The reminder thus being made, there is no doubt that liberation will assuredly be attained.
This teaching, which does not necessarily require [prior] meditation practice, is the profound instruction which liberates by being seen, liberates by being heard and liberates by being read aloud. This profound instruction is one which can lead even those of the greatest negativity on the direct path [to liberation]. Ensure that its words and meaning are retained in the memory [such that] they are not forgotten, even if you were to be chased by seven [ferocious] dogs. This is a pith instruction for the attainment of buddhahood at the time of death. [Even if] all the buddhas of the past, present and future [were to search], they would not find a [sacred] teaching superior to this.
This completes the instruction on the intermediate state, which liberates corporeal beings, the profound, refined essence, entitled the Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States. It was brought forth from the mountain of Gampodar by the accomplished master Karma Lingpa, as a precious treasure.