The Fine Art of Dying
The cultivation of the fine art of dying is extremely difficult. It is something which requires great inner discipline. One of the problems with the presentation of ideas related to death and dying in the Western World, is that in the West, there is really no tradition of a between-lives state. In fact, there can be said to be a general taboo against knowing or talking about the experience of death.
The Tibetans, with their classic Bardo Thödol, (literally "liberation by hearing on the after-death plane"), have traditionally trained themselves to overcome the apparent ordinariness of the between-lives state, and recognize the Bardo in a supernormal way, with unusual forms, images and apparitions. And the reason they do this is that without this special training the between-lives state, in which we voyage through the Real World, looks very much like ordinary life to the untrained voyager. The problem for us is that the images and guides which are presented in the Tibetan Bardo Thödol are not culturally transferable to a modern western society. The nightmarish hallucination of one culture turns out to be the blah, everyday, science fiction and horror classic of another. The illusions of the phenomenal world carry different pictures and mental images, depending on the culture and epoch you are passing through.
One of the major problems faced by the untrained individual, who has not trained himself during ordinary life to sense the subtle feelings and sensations of the Bardo, or the Macro-Dimensional World, which during ordinary life are hidden under the grosser sensations of the phenomenal world, is to just be aware that he is even in the between-lives state.
In ordinary life, the average human being, not being present in the present, generally has not the slightest idea of what is going on, where he is, or what is happening around him, his feelings and his sensations. So how do you expect him to notice that anything is different in the Bardo, where the only difference is in the QUALITY of the experience and not the IMAGERY itself.
This is why in life we need to train ourselves to feel and sense ourselves in our environment, during the lifetime. Our greatest efforts in life usually go towards enhancing the general effect we have on others.
It is also a good idea to train oneself in the imagery of the between-lives state, rather than depend on our sensitivity to the admittedly subtle changes in the body, mind and environment. It's very similar to dreaming at night, during horizontal sleep. There are generally many hints and clues that we are dreaming; the quality of our experience is usually different than it normally is, people, including ourselves, say and do the most extraordinary things, we see the most extraordinary sights, find ourselves engaged in the most extraordinary tasks, and yet, we totally buy into the dream, accept it as totally ordinary and real, just as we buy into everything that happens during our ordinary "waking" lives, and just as we buy into everything when we enter the between-lives state.
Another little known fact is that this non-phenomenal world, Macrodimensional world, Bardo, Real world, Eternal world, whatever tradition one belongs to and wishes to call it, is going on all the time; it is the world which underlies the phenomenal world. Its vibrations are being dominated by the phenomenal vibrations which are heavier and denser and therefore easier to sense with the awareness available to the human biological machine.
Let's get some of our terms straight. This between-lives state is not really between different lives, or as some traditions have it re-incarnation, but between the same life, lived over and over again, throughout Creation.
Our original idea, which we have forgotten long ago, is for us to maintain an unbroken thread of consciousness throughout our experience in the Universe. However, it usually works out that somehow, with all the glitter and flash that accompanies phenomenal existence, that we identify with all the attractive and distractive things that are around. There are constant demands placed on our attention and interest, something catches our lasting attention for quite some time, and there we are, dragged right into it.
During the lifetime we usually get so caught up in the material that our thread of consciousness gets broken, and we are no longer interested at all in our Prime Aim as A Being. Our principal interest has become how to feel good more of the time, how to avoid feeling bad, and the accumulation of at least a minimum of electronic hardware and cool cd's. Who has got time to waste on this impractical shit, the "spiritual stuff"? So, not only have we forgotten, but when we actually hear the Truth, we no longer believe it.
So basically, it boils down to a game, in which we are going to try to liberate ourselves from our attachment, and the universe is going to do its damnedest to throw a monkey wrench into this grand idea. For every ounce of intention and will towards our own personal non-identification with things, the universe is going to throw about a billion tons worth of counter-intention against us.
So, how do things look for us? What are our chances of doing something real for a change? Well, there are several fundamental problems about dealing with death and its aftermath, the loss of a human biological machine and all the things which that entails, like no more ballgames, no more pizza, no more mind. . . WHAT, did you say no more mind?
It's a bummer, but the fact is that our intellectual centre, our logic area, which more or less forms our personality during the lifetime and helps us function in the phenomenal world, does not exactly make this voyage with us. It can't. It belongs to the human sector, and is too gross to penetrate here, and so we are thrown back on the habits of our essential self, our essence.
Ok, no one is pressuring you, perhaps during this current pass which you are making through the human sector, you just want to hear about these ideas, sort of re-familiarize yourself with the stuff, not actually get too heavily involved with it. So you read a bit, you go to a couple of lectures given by strange looking people with even stranger names and hairdos, maybe you do a little yoga, a little meditation. If you wish for more involvement, perhaps you go vegan or something.
So basically, the major problem faced in the between-lives state is the lack of practical experience during the lifetime. Metaphorically speaking, we ought to be training for the upcoming match, and instead we spend our time bingeing. All this has been known by many esoteric communities throughout human history.
So, just how can I go about finding some of this "Bardo Training"?
No thanks, the ideas presented on this page are entirely too hairy for me. I just want out; please return me to the nearest rebirth station, which will get me back to approximately where I was before I accidentally read all this.