Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo
by Guru Rinpoche
Verses on the Bardo from the Six Wonderful Methods
for Enlightenment Without Cultivation

   Here I shall explain the profound meaning of liberation through hearing for the one who has
reached the time of death. Among the three kinds of bardos, the first is the time of the bardo
of dying.

   Fortunate one of noble family, listen one-pointedly with mindfulness and no
distraction. Whatever appears in this world is the dream-like deception of Mara.
Everything impermanent is subject to death. Noble one, abandon suffering!

   The experiences of whiteness, redness and blackness are all the magical
display of your mind. These appearances are nothing other than yourself.
Don't be afraid or shocked.

   Now it seems that you are losing consciousness. Outer appearances resemble
the sky at dawn. Inner experience resembles a butter lamp in a vase. Remain
one-pointedly in the clarity of non-thought. This luminosity of death is buddha
mind itself. Rest naturally without fabricating or distorting anything. Noble one,
in this way you will be liberated into dharmakaya.

   Give this advice in a pleasant and clear manner. Those of the highest capacity will be liberated
through this. Now comes the second bardo of dharmata.

   Fortunate one of noble family, listen with undistracted, one-pointed mindfulness.
Earlier, you did not recognize awareness. For the next seven days, all experiences
will arise as rainbows, lights, rays, spheres and as the bodies of deities. All are the
magical display of the means and knowledge of the five buddhas. Do not be afraid
or terrified by the brilliant colors and lights. Resolve that they are your own

   Together with these lights dull colored lights will also appear and attract your
mind. Do not be attached to them. They are the self-display of the five poisons,
the pathways of samsara. Your experience will arise as pure and impure paths,
so do not miss the right path to be chosen.

   From the heart centers of the male and female buddhas of the five families,
shafts of light reach your eyes. This is the great, direct path of Vajrasattva.
Quietly abide in awareness and pray, "Look upon me with compassion!"
Supplicate with intense yearning. Without accepting or rejecting, without sending
away or holding on to anything, maintain the state in which the appearances
of deities are inseparable from yourself. At that time, as one deity dissolves
into another, you will be liberated into sambhogakaya.

   Listen fortunate one! If you are not liberated now, know that time does not change
though phenomena does. Everywhere in the four cardinal and four intermediate
directions, above and below, amidst a roaring mass of flames and rainbow colors is
the Great and Glorious Heruka. His assembly of deities and terrifying attendants rain
down sharp weapons, HUNG, PHAT and laughter. This fiery spectacle of immense
variety makes one billion world systems tremble.

   Without being afraid or terrified, recognize everything as the display of your
awareness. Be firm in this and rest while mingling inseparably with the natural
state. Having entered the path, you will be liberated.

   In this way, those of the middle capacity are liberated. Thirdly, during the bardo of becoming,
say to the dead person:

   Listen, child of noble family. Maintain mindfulness and do not be distracted. Your
body is now comprised of prana and mind. Around it the appearances of the bardo
of becoming arise. Knowing you are dead, you long to be alive. You are caught
by the fierce servants of the Lord of the Dead. Frightening sounds and steep defiles
appear along with many definite and indefinite signs. All this is the manifestation of
your mind, which is ultimately empty like the sky. Space cannot be harmed by space.
Therefore, develop unconditioned confidence.

   This consecrated substance, burnt and offered, is an inexhaustible feast, the
food of undefiled liberation through hearing. Partake of it, and without attachment
to being alive turn with longing to your yidam and master.

   To the west of here is the Blissful Realm where Lord Amitabha dwells. Whoever
recalls his name will be born there. You, too, while recalling his name, should
make prayers. Generate devotion, thinking, "Care for me, Lokeshvara and Guru
Rinpoche!" Free of doubt, move with a spontaneous vajra leap. In that buddhafield,
within the hollow of a lotus bud, you will be swiftly and miraculously born. Therefore,
noble one, with delight and joy give rise to devotion.

   Those of the lowest capacity are liberated like this. If not, now comes the way of liberation
once one has passed through to rebirth.

   Listen, child of noble family. Since you have not closed the door to the womb,
when you see a log, a hollow space, a dark place, a forest or a palace, abandon
desire and clinging.

   Make up your mind to be born on the earth and specifically in Tibet1 in the
presence of your teacher.

   Visualize your future parents, from a religious family, as Guru Rinpoche and his
consort. Abandon desire or anger, and with faith enter the state of composure.
Having become a vessel for the profound Dharma, you will swiftly attain wisdom.

   Through these gradual instructions, no matter how low one's capacity may be, one will
certainly be liberated within seven rebirths.

   Draw the session to a close with the dedication and aspiration prayers and rest in the
natural state of the pure nature of all phenomena.

   A deeply profound instruction such as this does not require cultivation, but liberates
through hearing.

This teaching was extracted from a text in Vol. 1 of the Chokling Tersar, called Sheldam
Nyingjang, The Essence Manual of Oral Instructions.

1. This was 100 years ago. Today the aspiration must be aimed at any place where the
Vajrayana teachings are available.