2022, September, Issue 10
When I was in the death bardo, at what we might think of as the boundary between the Dharmakaya and the Sambhogakaya dimensions, I could sense that I was in complete control of the situation. This might sound like quite a claim; however, that is how it was, as it is. I had emerged from an eternity of complete awareness, a condition where there was no self, at least not this feeble idea of a self that humans form, only to find consciousness emerging, along with the notion of a self.
To think of what control means in that circumstance, humans will generally go right to an incorrect notion of what self means. They will think that they need to do something, get hard fisted, make a huge effort, manage things in a deliberate way. This is not at all what I mean by control. If a person does such things, they have no control whatsoever, at least not from the ultimate point of view. Words, being devices for confused beings, carry imprecise confused notions with them. To understand what I mean by control, you will have to relax completely, so that you can begin to experience reality directly.
Control, from an ultimate viewpoint is more like maintaining awareness by being open and bright within. It is allowing nirvana to happen, while not clinging to that. Control, in this sense is doing the exact opposite of what we have been doing in an endless string of confused lifetimes, from beginningless beginnings. It is accepting the appearances while being aware of their essence, not doing anything with them, just being.
Now, to explain this further, the Dharmakaya is what we consider to be that bright amazing light at the end of the tunnel; although, it is really beyond what we know, including what we know. It is our real nature, which some call the Source, etc. We can only see that when we are completely aware. And, I should note that this happens here and there throughout the day and night without us hardly noticing.
The Sambhogakaya dimension is the energetic dimension where consciousness manifests. All sorts of things can be imagined in that dimension. We are really energy, even if we don’t know that in any rational sense. At that boundary with the Dharmakaya is where we begin to realize that mind and the Nature of Mind have merged; so, our understanding of this physical realm is much more compassionate. We understand the illusory nature of our physical dimension. When we are living in a body, we think that is real, and it is hard to imagine it not being real. This means that we start to debate philosophies and cling to belief without examining those beliefs, which creates more confusion, more suffering, more attachments, which closes our heart and mind even further.
When our heart and mind are closed, we think that control involves tightening things, creating a shell, applying effort. In reality, that hardens us in such a way that we don’t even know that we have less control. It is our habit of being attached to this world that expands this misunderstanding. It’s like a drug addict thinking that they need more drugs in order to reestablish that initial high that they may have had when they started. What actually happens is that they become more poisoned, more motivated by a craving that can never be satisfied, eventually dying from the suffering they create by this very thing they think they are seeking.
When we are in the death bardo, we must simply relax. No matter what happens, simply relax. To do this, we must have some sense of how completely indestructible that we really are.
Fortunately, I had prepared myself through intensive meditative practices, including gazing at min, gaining some understanding of emptiness and becoming familiar with this state of energy that we are all a part. I learned that relaxing completely is the way to control the situation. The death bardo did not conquer me, and I returned to life with great confidence. So, this is an important point, that we need to relax if we do not wish to be propelled in some random direction. We need to conquer our emotions, if we wish to not be at the mercy of such things. This means relaxing in all circumstances, relaxing completely.
In time, we can all learn to remain in awareness, not controlled by mind or emotions in the least. When we are in this condition of awareness, we can become completely spontaneous with our actions, not impulsive or unaware of what we are doing. This is what I mean by control. It is beyond the ordinary implication of that word.
We will all awaken, as we become aware of what that means.