Stacks Image 529

The Great Liberation by Hearing



CONTEXT
Traditionally, the procedures followed when a lama visits a dying or deceased person are intricate and prolonged, and will vary depending on whether the person is about to die, has just recently died, or has been dead for some days.
When a person is approaching death, it is customary for the relatives or close friends to seek the assistance of a fully qualified lama. The lama should be motivated by a sincere compassion for all sentient beings and should have mastered in his own mental continuum the direct experiential cultivation of the dying processes, as well as the consciousness transference practices.
It is very important that when coming in to the household, the attending lama is concentrated on the motivation to free the dying person from the sufferings of cyclic existence. Very often the mere presence of an accomplished lama can create a solid sense of calm and purposefulness, which inspires both the dying person and family. The formal practice begins with the attending lama taking refuge in the Buddha, the sacred teachings, and the ideal spiritual community, on behalf of the dying person and all other sentient beings, including himself. At this point, the lama should visualise in the space in front of himself images of the three objects of refuge – the Buddha, sacred teachings and ideal community – forming a tree, whose branches like billowing clouds in the sky are adorned by buddhas, bodhisattvas and the spiritual masters of the lineage. Then he should visualise that the dying person, surrounded by all sentient beings, takes refuge by reciting the following verses three times:
I take refuge from now until enlightenment, In the Buddha, the [sacred] teachings and the supreme assembly.
Through the merit of practising generosity and the other [perfections], May I attain buddhahood for the sake of [all] living beings.
Maintaining this same visualisation, the lama should slowly recite with full concentration the four immeasurable aspirations, based on the cultivation of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.
May all sentient beings be endowed with happiness!
May they all be separated from suffering and its causes!
May they be endowed with joy, free from suffering!
May they abide in equanimity, free from attraction and aversion!
Up to this point, the preliminary procedures are common to all the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Next, the lama should enter into the practice of the Natural Liberation of Habitual Tendencies, as presented in Chapter 5. During the practice of the initial ten-branched prayer (contained in Chapter 5), the refuge tree is still visualised in the space in front. As the ten-branched prayer is concluded the lama visualises that all the objects of refuge melt into light and then gradually dissolve into the crowns of each of the attending persons, including the dying person and himself. So at this point the body, speech and mind of all enlightened beings, the objects of refuge, become indivisible from the lama’s own body, speech, and mind and those of all others present. Like water poured into water they become inseparably one in nature. In this way, it is visualised that all those present are brought under the protection of the Three Precious Jewels.
Then, like a bubble emerging from water, the lama visualises himself arising out of emptiness in the form of Vajrasattva and he continues with the practice of the Natural Liberation of Habitual Tendencies. Once this practice is complete, extensive mental offerings should then be made to all the buddhas and bodhisattvas and the lama should slowly recite three or seven times the short prayer entitled an Aspirational Prayer [Calling] to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for Assistance (see Chapter 12), followed by the accompanying aspirational prayers. This is often followed by a series of more general recitations from the Buddhist canon, including the Sutra of the Three
Heaps (Triskandhakasutra, T 284), dedicated to the Thirty-five Buddhas of Confession, the recitation of the names of the thousand buddhas of this aeon, following the arrangement of SSkyas>T of Kash-mir, entitled Ornate Garland of the Auspicious Aeon (Bhadrakalpikal-amkdramsis, T 1169), together with the recitation of the mantras given in the Tantra of the Purification of All Lower Destinies (Sarvadurgatiparisodhanatantra, T 483). Just to hear these names is said to make a powerful impact on the consciousness of the dying person.
At this point, the lama has to be very observant of the dying person. Excessive preoccupation with the completion of these recitations may distract him from seizing the moment when the dying person’s consciousness actually leaves the body. Carefully observing the signs of death, as indicated in the Natural Liberation through Recognition of the Visual Indications and Signs of Death (Chapter 8), just before the person passes away, the lama should immediately begin the introduction to the intermediate state of the time of death (the first part of the present chapter), even if the previous recitations are unfinished. In certain circumstances, mouth to mouth resuscitation might be given, in accordance with the cycle entitled Eight Transmitted Precepts: Oral Transmission of the Awareness Holder (bKa’-brgyad rig-’dzin zhal-lung), which was revealed by the Fifth Dalai Lama, or an equivalent text. This may maintain life for a short period while final guidance is given.
Accordingly, the dying one should be guided through the processes of the dissolution of the elements (as set out in Chapter 8), before continuing with the introduction to the intermediate state of the time of death, as set out in this chapter. Usually, the dying person is addressed by name, or by the expression ‘child of buddha nature’ (rigs-kyi bu). One who is worthy of great respect is addressed by an expression such as ‘venerable one’, ‘spiritual master’, ‘teacher’, or ‘your ladyship’ and so forth. If it is someone from whom the attending lama has personally received teaching, he may use the expression ‘lord of the refuge’ (skyabs-mgon) or ‘great lama’ (bla-chen), and so forth. There are different modes of address.
The voice of the lama who calls out to the dying person should be very melodious, so that merely upon hearing the sound of the instructions the person feels soothed, elevated and attracted.
Following the outer dissolution of the four elements and the inner dissolution of the processes of conceptual thought into redness, whiteness and blackness, the lama should recite the verses describing the moment of the arising of the inner radiance of the ground. These words of introduction should be read aloud three times. If the dying person fails to recognise the first inner radiance and swoons into unconsciousness, the lama should proceed with the introduction to the second inner radiance followed by the introduction to the emergence of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities during the intermediate state of reality.
Once the introduction to the intermediate state of reality has been completed, the attending lama should closely observe the body of the deceased and seek to determine whether he or she has attained liberation from rebirth in cyclic existence. If emancipation has occurred, the body will take on a certain glow, and while being in its presence, one will experience a sensation of happiness. The body will not smell. It will look just like a living person who is sleeping. These are signs that the consciousness of the deceased has attained liberation. In addition, external environmental signs may arise, as described in Chapter 8, including distinctive cloud formations and rainbows. If the deceased is a realised yogin, monk or layperson who has gained complete freedom at the time of death, then the attending lama may hear the sound of chanting and the music of sacred instruments, such as the skull drum or bell. On the other hand, if the consciousness of the deceased has not been emancipated, the complexion of the deceased will become disquieting and may inspire a sense of fear when it is seen. The face will become grey and dusty, and the body will begin to decompose very quickly.
If the consciousness of the deceased does not attain liberation while in the intermediate state of reality, the mental body assumed by the deceased will then immediately fall into the intermediate state of rebirth, at which time, the attending lama should recite the introduction to that phase, as presented in the latter part of this chapter.
Importantly, these introductions to the three intermediate states of the time of death, reality and rebirth should be supplemented, if appropriate, by the practice of the transference of consciousness, as presented in Chapter 10. If the internal and external signs are very good, consciousness transference will not be necessary and could even be potentially harmful.
The attending lama must take great care as to if and when consciousness transference should be practised. It is not only highly realised spiritual masters who remain in meditation during these intermediate states, but even ordinary men, women, and children may have achieved a settled state of mind, enabling them to remain in peaceful and deep meditation after death. If consciousness transference were performed in such cases, the deceased would be disturbed. Moreover, since the consciousness of the deceased has a tendency to leave the body from whichever point it is touched, the relatives, loved ones and the attending lama should refrain from touching the body or only tap the crown fontanelle in order to induce the consciousness to leave from that point.
If the attending lama decides that consciousness transference is the appropriate course of action, it should be repeated many times until certain indications occur, such as the emergence of mucus or blood from both nostrils. Further, in order to induce the consciousness to leave the body via the crown, which is the optimum gateway for the transference to take effect, the means of preventing the consciousness from leaving through other orifices as described in Chapter 10 should be applied. This is facilitated by visualising that the nine orifices of the body are each sealed by a single HUM syllable, thus forcing the consciousness to exit via the crown fontanelle.
In any event, if the attending lama feels that the consciousness of the deceased has become confused and trapped, or if the corpse begins to decompose and lose its radiance, then consciousness transference should be immediately performed.
Once the introductions to the intermediate states of the time of death, reality, and rebirth have been concluded, the attending lama should then recite: the Prayer for Union with the Spiritual Teacher (Chapter 2), the Natural Liberation of Habitual Tendencies (Chapter 5), the Hundredfold Homage (Chapter 6), the Confession (Chapter 7), and the Liberation by Wearing (Chapter 14).
At this juncture the attending lama may read certain general prayers not included within the present cycle, such as the Aspirational Prayer for Good Conduct (BodhisattvapranidhSnaraja, T 1095), one °f the many versions of the Aspirational Prayer for Rebirth in SukhavatT (contained in bDe-smon Phyogs-sgrigs), the Aspirational Prayer of Maitreya (MaitreyapranidhGna, T 1096), and the final chapter of the Introduction to the Conduct of a Bodhisattva (BodhisattvacaryavatSra, T 3871), which concerns the dedication of merit on behalf of all sentient beings.
These may be followed by a further recitation of prayers specific to the present cycle, namely the: Root Verses of the Six Intermediate States (Chapter 3) and the Aspirational Prayers (Chapter 12).
This completes the summary of the process through which the attending lama tends directly to the consciousness of the dying person and the deceased.

PART ONE
An Elucidation of the Intermediate State of the Time of Death and of the Appearance of the Peaceful Deities in the Intermediate State of Reality
Herein is contained the Great Liberation by Hearing,1 an elucidation of the intermediate state of reality, [which is an extract] from the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: A Profound Sacred Teaching, [entitled] Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention.2
I bow down to the spiritual teachers, [embodiment of] the Three Buddha-bodies:
To the Buddha-body of Reality, Infinite Light, Amitabha;
To the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, the Peaceful and Wrathful Lotus Deities;
And to the Buddha-body of Emanation, Padmdkara, protector of beings.
This Great Liberation by Hearing, the skilful means which liberates yogins of average ability during the intermediate states, has three parts, namely: the introduction, the main subject matter [of the text] and the conclusion.
INTRODUCTION
[All aspirants] should experientially cultivate the steps of guidance,3 which are the means by which corporeal beings can achieve liberation. Those of highest acumen should certainly attain liberation [in their lifetime] through [the application of] that guidance. But if liberation does not occur thereby, [yogins] should implement, during the intermediate state of the time of death, [the appropriate procedure outlined in] the Consciousness Transference: Natural Liberation through Recollection.4 Yogins of average ability should certainly be liberated by that. If liberation is not effected by the [application of consciousness transference], then [the recitation of] the following Great Liberation by Hearing should be persistently made during the intermediate state of reality.
First, therefore, yogins should examine the signs of death in accordance with the text entitled Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] the Visual Indications and Signs of Death, also known as the Mirror which Clarifies the Visible Indications of Death.5 Thereupon, when the [inner] signs of the processes of death are definitively and completely present, [the appropriate procedure as outlined in] the Consciousness Transference: Natural Liberation through Recollection should be applied. Thus, if this transference is effective, there will be no need to read aloud the Great Liberation by Hearing.
If, however, the transference is ineffective, this Liberation by Hearing should be read aloud with correct pronunciation and clear diction, close to the corpse. If the corpse is not present, one should sit next to the bed or seat of the deceased. Then, having invoked the power of truth6 and summoned the consciousness [of the deceased],7 one should imagine him or her to be listening in one’s presence and read aloud [this Great Liberation by Hearing]. At this time the relatives and close friends should [be advised to] show restraint because, at this stage, it is not appropriate to cry or dramatically express one’s grief.8
If the deceased’s body is present, then during the interval which follows the ceasing of respiration,9 this Great Liberation by Hearing should be read aloud by a spiritual teacher, or by a spiritual sibling, sincere [practitioner], or a sympathetic friend, placing the lips [close] to the ear [of the deceased], without actually touching.10
THE MAIN SUBJECT MATTER
Now follows the actual exegesis of the Liberation by Hearing:
First, one should make extensive offerings to the Three Precious Jewels.11 If these are unobtainable, one should make offerings by arraying whatever one has as a support for visualisation and mentally emanating an immeasurable [quantity of offerings]. Then one should recite, three or seven times, the Aspirational Prayer [Calling] to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for Assistance. After this, one should melodiously recite the Aspirational Prayer which Protects from Fear of the Intermediate States, the Aspirational Prayer which Rescues from the Dangerous Pathways of the Intermediate States and the Root Verses of the [Six] Intermediate States.12
Thereafter, this Great Liberation by Hearing is to be read aloud seven or three times, or [as many times] as the circumstances permit.
[The main subject matter of the Great Liberation by Hearing] comprises three sections: the introduction to inner radiance during the intermediate state of the time of death,13 the great elucidation which introduces the intermediate state of reality14 and a teaching on the means for obstructing the entrance to the womb during the intermediate state of rebirth.15
Introduction to Inner Radiance in the Intermediate State of the Time of Death
This introduction is made on behalf of those individuals who have good understanding, but do not yet have recognition [of inner radiance], as well as those who have gained recognition but have little familiarity, and all ordinary persons who have received little experiential guidance. By means of [this introduction], such beings will, upon recognising the inner radiance of the ground, attain the uncreated Buddha-body of Reality, in an ascending and core-penetrating manner, without [experiencing] the intermediate states.
Introduction to the Inner Radiance of the Ground
As for the method of making [this introduction], it is best if the root spiritual teacher from whom [the dying person] personally received guidance can be present. If he cannot be present, then a spiritual sibling with identical commitments16 [should be called upon], or if none of these can be present, then a spiritual friend holding the same lineage17 should attend; or if none of these at all can be present, someone who knows how to read aloud with correct pronunciation and clear diction should recite [the introductions] many times. Thereby, [the dying person] will remember that which had [formerly] been introduced by his or her spiritual teacher and immediately afterwards, being set face to face with the inner radiance of the ground, will undoubtedly attain liberation.
Concerning the time for making [this introduction]: after respiration has ceased, the vital energy is absorbed into the channel of pristine cognition18 and the consciousness [of the deceased] naturally arises as a non-conceptual inner radiance. Later, the vital energy will be reversed and escape into the right and left channels and, as a result, the appearances of the [subsequent] intermediate state [of reality] will arise suddenly. Therefore, [the introduction to inner radiance at the time of death] should be made before [the vital energy] has escaped into the right and left channels. [Generally], the length of time during which the inner breath remains present within the central channel is just about the time taken to eat a meal.19
As regards the actual mode of making [this introduction], it is best if the consciousness transference is effected at that moment when the respiration is about to cease. If it is not, one should say the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, (call the name of the dying person), the time has now come for you to seek a path. As soon as your respiration ceases, [the luminosity] known as the ‘inner radiance of the first intermediate state’,20 which your spiritual teacher formerly introduced to you, will arise. [Immediately] your respiration ceases, all phenomena will become empty and utterly naked like space. [At the same time], a naked awareness will arise, not extraneous [to yourself], but radiant, empty and without horizon or centre. At that moment, you should personally recognise this intrinsic nature and rest in the state of that [experience]. I too will introduce it [to you] at that time.21
These words should be spoken audibly many times, impressing them on the mind [of the dying person] until respiration ceases.
Then, when the respiration is on the point of ceasing, one should lay [the dying person] on the right side, in the posture of the lion, and take the pulse.22 Once the throbbing of the two carotid arteries has stopped, they should be firmly pressed [at their pressure points on the neck].23 Then the vital energy, having entered the central channel, cannot reverse [and escape] and it will certainly emerge through the crown fontanelle.24 The introduction should continue to be made at this time.
This phase in the process of death is called: ‘the inner radiance of reality during the first intermediate state’. It is the unique and incontrovertible enlightened intention of the Buddha-body of Reality, which arises in the minds of all living beings. [At the moment of death], this coincides with the period when the vital energy is absorbed into the central channel, after respiration has ceased and before the ceasing of the inner breath. Ordinary people describe this state as ‘loss of consciousness’.25
The duration of this [experience of inner radiance] is uncertain, [for it depends on] the health and characteristics of [the dying person’s] physical constitution, and on the degree of [his or her proficiency in the practices related to] the vital energies and channels. For those who have considerable practical experience, or those who have achieved stability in the practice of calm abiding, or those who have healthy energy channels, this experience can be prolonged.26 In striving to make this introduction, therefore, one should remind [the deceased] repeatedly [by giving the instruction as above and below], until serous fluid emerges from the apertures of the sense-organs.27 For those persons of great negativity and those classes of beings with unhealthy channels this phase lasts no longer than a single snapping of the fingers. In others, it may last for as long as it takes to eat a meal. However, as most sutras and tantras state that the period of unconsciousness [following the moment of death] may last for three and a half days, generally one should persevere for that length of time, in making this introduction to inner radiance.
As for the way in which this introduction is made: if capable, the dying person should facilitate this of his or her own accord by projecting a formerly cultivated [spiritual practice into the intermediate state]. If [the individual] is not capable of this, then a spiritual teacher, a student, or a spiritual sibling who was a close friend, should stay nearby and clearly remind [the dying person] of the signs [of death] in their correct sequence, saying:
Now, the sign of the dissolution of earth into water is present, of water into fire, fire into wind, wind into consciousness, and so forth [as set down in the text entitled Natural Liberation through Recognition of the Visual Indications and Signs of Death].28
Then, when the sequence of the signs is almost complete, [the attendant] should encourage the dying person to cultivate the following altruistic intention, beginning with the words: ‘O, Child of Buddha Nature!’ or, if [the dying person] is a spiritual teacher, the attendant should gently say the following words into the ear:
O, Venerable One! I beg you not to be distracted from the cultivation of an altruistic intention!
If [the dying person] is a spiritual sibling or anyone else, [the attendant] should call to him or her by name and say the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, that which is called death has now arrived. Therefore you should adopt an altruistic motivation and concentrate your thinking as follows: ‘I have arrived at the time of death, so now, relying on the process of death, I will single-mindedly cultivate an altruistic intention. I will meditate on the generation of loving kindness, compassion and an altruistic intention to attain enlightenment. For the benefit of all sentient beings, who are as limitless as space, I must attain perfect buddhahood.’ And in particular, [you should think]: ‘At this moment, for the sake of all sentient beings, I must recognise [the time of] death as [the arising of] inner radiance, the Buddha-body of Reality, and while in that state, I must attain the supreme accomplishment of the Great Seal, and thereby act for the good of all sentient beings. If I do not achieve this accomplishment, then, recognising the intermediate state as it is, I will actualise the coalescent Buddha-body of the Great Seal during the intermediate state, and thereby, manifesting in order to instruct each in accordance with his or her needs, I will act for the benefit of all sentient beings, who are as limitless as space.’ Without giving up the focus on cultivating an altruistic intention, in the above way, recollect the meditative experiences which you formerly developed on the basis of the oral teachings.
Those words should be clearly spoken, while placing the lips close to the ear [of the dying person]. Without permitting the attention [of the dying one] to be distracted even for an instant, [the attendant] should remind him or her of past meditative experiences.
Then, when the respiration has ceased, and the two carotid arteries have been firmly pressed, remind [the dying person] with the following words, if the individual was a spiritual teacher or a spiritual friend greater than oneself:
Venerable One! The inner radiance of the ground is now arisen before you. Recognise it, and concentrate directly on its experiential cultivation.
For all others, one should introduce [the inner radiance of the ground], with the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, (call the name of the individual) listen! Pure inner radiance, reality itself, is now arising before you. Recognise it! O, Child of Buddha Nature, this radiant essence that is now your conscious awareness is a brilliant emptiness. It is beyond substance, beyond characteristics and beyond colour, completely empty of inherent existence in any respect whatsoever. This is the female Buddha Samantabhadrl, the essential nature of reality. The essence of your own conscious awareness is emptiness. Yet, this is not a vacuous or nihilistic emptiness; this, your very own conscious awareness, is unimpededly radiant, brilliant and vibrant. This [conscious awareness] is the male Buddha Samantabhadra. The utterly indivisible presence of these two: the essence of your own awareness, which is empty, without inherent existence with respect to any substance whatsoever, and your own conscious awareness, which is vibrant and radiantly present, is the Buddha-body of Reality. This intrinsic awareness, manifest in a great mass of light, in which radiance and emptiness are indivisible, is the buddha [nature] of unchanging light, beyond birth or death. Just to recognise this is enough! If you recognise this brilliant essence of your own conscious awareness to be the buddha [nature], then to gaze into intrinsic awareness is to abide in the enlightened intention of all the buddhas.
This introduction should be made three or seven times, with correct pronunciation and clear diction. Accordingly, [the deceased] will firstly recollect [the teachings] as they had been formerly given by his or her teacher, and secondly be introduced to inner radiance as a naked natural awareness. And then, thirdly, having recognised this, he or she will attain the Buddha-body of Reality, beyond conjunction or disjunction, and certainly achieve liberation. Recognition of the ‘first inner radiance’ [of the ground] takes place in this way.
[Introduction to the Inner Radiance of the Path]
If, however, it is feared that [the deceased] has not recognised the first inner radiance, the so-called ‘second inner radiance’ [of the path] will arise. [Again, it is said that this second inner radiance] lasts a little more than the time it takes to eat a meal, after the respiration has ceased. Specifically, it arises once the vital energy has escaped into the right or left channel, whichever is appropriate depending on the positive and negative past actions [of the deceased], and once the vital energy has emerged through one of the orifices of the body.29 When this occurs, the consciousness suddenly becomes awake and lucid.
Although it is said that this second inner radiance also lasts [approximately] for as long as it takes to eat a meal, this actually depends, as before, on whether or not the energy channels are healthy and whether or not [the individual] has or lacks meditative experience.
Now, at this point, the consciousness emerges from the body and, [initially], the individual may not know whether or not he or she has died. The relatives are seen as before, and their cries of sorrow can be heard. During this period, before the harsh and bewildering experiences related to past actions have arisen, and before the terrifying experiences related to Yama have occurred, the oral teaching should be given.30 This [oral teaching] concerns both the perfection stage and the generation stage [of meditation]. If [the deceased] was engaged in [the practices of] the perfection stage, one should call to him or her three times, by name, and repeat the above [instruction, which is] the introduction to inner radiance. If [the deceased] was engaged in [the practices of] the generation stage, one should read aloud the formal description of the individual’s chosen meditational deity as set down in the corresponding meditative cycle. Then remind him or her with the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature! Meditate on this, your meditational deity. Do not be distracted31. Concentrate intently on your meditational deity! Meditate that [the deity] appears, and yet is without inherent existence, like [the reflection of] the moon in water. Do not meditate on the deity as a solid corporeal form!32
If [the deceased] was an ordinary person, without a specific practice, then preface the introduction with the following words:
Meditate on the Lord of Great Compassion!
By means of such an introduction, there is no doubt that even those who have not recognised [the nature of] the intermediate state will do so.
This, [the above] precise reminder, should be given by a spiritual teacher or sibling to those who, despite having already received this introduction from a spiritual teacher while they were alive, have an undeveloped meditative experience, and accordingly will not recognise the intermediate state by themselves. Equally, this instruction is of crucial importance in the case of those who, despite their meditative experience, are bewildered by serious illness at the moment of death and therefore cannot recall [their past meditative experiences]; and finally, it is particularly necessary in the case of those beings who, despite their former meditative experience, are at risk of falling into lower existences as a result of having broken their vows and having failed to maintain their basic commitments.33
[As stated above], it is best if [recognition] occurs during the first intermediate state. However, if it does not occur therein, awareness can be awakened and liberation attained during the second intermediate state. This second intermediate state is also called ‘the pure illusory body’. [During this second phase], consciousness achieves an instance of clarity, even though the deceased may not know whether or not they are dead. If the teaching is given at this time, therefore, the mother and child aspects of reality can meet,34 and [the deceased] will no longer be controlled by the force of past actions. Just as, for example, darkness is destroyed by the light of the sun, the controlling force of past actions is destroyed by this ‘inner radiance of the path’ and liberation is attained.
Now, this so-called ‘second intermediate state’ [occurring at that point when consciousness leaves the body] is one which suddenly appears to the ‘mental body’ [assumed by the deceased],35 while the consciousness [of the deceased] retains the same range of hearing as before. If the above oral teaching is given at this time, its purpose can therefore be accomplished. Since the bewildering appearances generated by past actions have not yet arisen, [the deceased] is able to direct his or her attention anywhere. Therefore, even though [the individual] may not have attained recognition of the inner radiance of the ground, he or she will be liberated by the recognition of the inner radiance [of the path], which is the second intermediate state.
INTRODUCTION TO THE INTERMEDIATE STATE OF REALITY
If liberation is still not attained through the above [introductions], then the intermediate state of reality, also called ‘the third intermediate state’, will arise.36 It is during this third phase that the bewildering apparitions, [which are the products] of past actions, emerge. Therefore, it is extremely important to read aloud the following Great Introduction to the Intermediate State of Reality37 at this juncture. It is most powerful and beneficial.
At around this time, the bereaved relatives will be crying and expressing their grief. They will no longer be serving [the deceased’s] share of food, they will have removed his or her clothes, and stripped down the bed, and so forth. Although [the deceased] can see them, they cannot see the deceased. Although the deceased can hear them calling out, they cannot hear the departed one calling back. So, [the deceased] may turn away in a state of despair.
At this time, three phenomena – sounds, lights and rays of light – will arise, and [the deceased] may faint with fear, terror or awe. Thus, during this period, the following Great Introduction to the Intermediate State of Reality should be given. Call the deceased by name and say the following words, with correct pronunciation and clear diction:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen very intently and without distraction. There are six kinds of intermediate state, namely: the intermediate state of living or natural existence, the intermediate state of dreams, the intermediate state of meditative stability or concentration, the intermediate state of the time of death, the intermediate state of reality, and the intermediate state of consequent rebirth.38 O, Child of Buddha Nature, {during and after death], you will experience three intermediate states: the intermediate state of the time of death, the intermediate state of reality and the intermediate state of rebirth. Of these three, it was the intermediate state of the time of death which you experienced until yesterday. Although the inner radiance of reality arose during that time, you did not recognise it. So now, [as a result], you have been compelled to wander here; and now you will experience the intermediate state of reality, followed by the intermediate state of rebirth. You must therefore recognise, without distraction, [the instruction and events] which I am now going to introduce to you.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, that which is called death has now arrived. You are leaving this world. But in this you are not alone. This happens to everyone. Do not be attached to this life! Do not cling to this life! Even if you remain attached and clinging, you do not have the power to stay – you will only continue to roam within the cycles of existence. Therefore, do not be attached and do not cling! Think of the Three Precious Jewels!
O, Child of Buddha Nature, however terrifying the appearances of the intermediate state of reality might be, do not forget the following words. Go forward remembering their meaning. The crucial point is that through them recognition may be attained.
Alas, now, as the intermediate state of reality arises before me,
Renouncing the merest thought of awe, terror or fear,
I will recognise all that arises to be awareness, manifesting
naturally of itself. Knowing such [sounds, lights and rays] to be visionary
phenomena of the intermediate state, At this moment, having reached this critical point, I must not fear the assembly of Peaceful and Wrathful Deities,
which manifest naturally!
Go forward, reciting these words distinctly and be mindful of their meaning. Do not forget them! For it is essential to recognise, with certainty, that whatever terrifying experiences may arise, they are natural manifestations [of actual reality}. O, Child of Buddha Nature, when your mind and body separate, the pure [luminous] apparitions of reality itself, will arise: subtle and clear, radiant and dazzling, naturally bright and awesome, shimmering like a mirage on a plain in summer. Do not fear them! Do not be terrified! Do not be awed! They are the natural luminosities of your own actual reality. Therefore recognise them [as they are]!
From within these lights, the natural sound of reality will resound, clear and thunderous, reverberating like a thousand simultaneous peals of thunder. This is the natural sound of your own actual reality. So, do not be afraid! Do not be terrified! Do not be awed! The body that you now have is called a ‘mental body’, it is the product of [subtle] propensities and not a solid corporeal body of flesh and blood. Therefore, whatever sounds, lights or rays may arise, they cannot harm you. For you are beyond death now! It is enough that you simply recognise [the sounds and luminosities] to be manifestations of your own [actual reality]. Know that this is the intermediate state!
O, Child of Buddha Nature, if you do not now recognise [these phenomena] to be natural manifestations, whatever meditative practices you may have undertaken whilst in the human world, if you have not [previously] encountered this present instruction, you will fear the light, you will be awed by the sound and you will be terrified by the rays. If you do not now understand this essential point of the teaching, you will not recognise the sounds, the lights and the rays, and you will continue to roam within the cycles of existence.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, should you have moved on, [without recognition], after having been unconscious for [up to] three and a half days,39 you will awaken from unconsciousness and wonder, “What has happened to me?” So, recognise this to be the intermediate state! At this time, the aspects of the cycles of existence are reversed [into their own true nature] and all phenomena are arising as lights and buddha-bodies.40
[On the first day of the intermediate state of reality],41 all space will arise as a blue light. At this time, from the central Buddha field called Pervasive Seminal Point,42 the transcendent lord Vairocana will dawn before you, his body white in colour, seated on a lion throne, holding in his [right] hand an eight-spoked wheel and embraced by his consort Akasadhatvisvarl. A blue luminosity, radiant and clear, bright and dazzling, [indicative of] the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse, which is the natural purity of your aggregate of consciousness, [will emanate] from the heart of Vairocana and his consort, and it will shine piercingly before you [at the level of your heart, with such brilliance] that your eyes cannot bear it. Together with this [luminosity], a dull white light, [indicative of the realm] of the gods, will also dawn directly before you [and touch your heart]. At this time, under the sway of negative past actions, you will [wish to] flee in fear and terror from the bright blue light, which is the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse, and you will come to perceive the dull white light of the god [realms] with delight. At this moment, do not be awed by the blue luminosity, which is radiant and dazzling, clear and very bright. This is the supreme inner radiance [of pristine cognition]! Do not be terrified! This is the light ray of the Tathagata, which is called the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse.43 Have confidence in it! Be drawn to it with longing devotion! Pray, with devotion, thinking: ‘This is the light ray of the transcendent lord Vairocana’s compassion. I take refuge in it.’ For this, in reality, is the transcendent lord Vairocana and his consort come to escort you on the dangerous pathway of the intermediate state. This is the light ray of Vairocana’s compassion! Therefore do not delight in the dull white light of the god [realms]! Do not be attached to it! Do not cling to it! This dull white light is the inviting path created by your own habitual tendencies for deep delusion, which you yourself have generated.44 If you become attached to it, you will roam within the god realms and be drawn into [the cycles of existence of] the six classes of beings. [This dull light] is an obstruction blocking the path to liberation. Do not look at it! Be devoted to the bright blue light! Focus intently on the transcendent lord Vairocana and repeat after me the following aspirational prayer:
O, as I roam in cyclic existence [driven] by deep-seated delusion,
May the transcendent lord Vairocana draw me forward,
Leading me on the path of radiant light,
Which is the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse.
May the supreme consort [Akdsajdhatvisvarf support me from behind, And, thus [encircled], may I be rescued
From the fearsome passageway of the intermediate state, And be escorted to the level of an utterly perfect buddha.
By making this aspirational prayer with fervent devotion, you will dissolve into rainbow light in the heart of Vairocana and his consort, and you will attain buddhahood, as the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, in the central Buddha field of the Dense Array {Ghanavyuha).
If, however, even after receiving this introduction, as the result of negative obscuration and aversion, [the deceased] are nonetheless overawed by the lights and rays, and turn away, and even if, after repeating the aspirational prayer, they remain bewildered, then, on the second day, Vajrasattva’s assembly of deities will come to escort them, and, at that same time, the negative past actions which are conducive to a rebirth in the hell [realms] will also emerge.
Again, calling the deceased by name, the introduction should be given with the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen without distraction. On the second day the purity of the entire element water will arise in the form of a white light. At that time, from the eastern Buddha field of Manifest Joy (Abhirati), the transcendent lord Aksobhya-Vajrasattva will dawn before you, his body blue in colour, holding in his [right] hand a five-pronged vajra, seated on an elephant throne and embraced by his consort Buddhalocana. They are encircled by two male bodhisattvas, Ksitigarbha and Maitreya, and two female bodhisattvas, Ldsyd and Puspd, thus, six buddha-bodies will be shining before you from within a space of rainbow light.
A [brilliant] white light, [indicative of] the mirror-like pristine cognition, which is the natural purity of the aggregate of form, white and dazzling, radiant and clear [will emanate] from the heart of Vajrasattva and his consort and it will shine piercingly before you [at the level of your heart, with such brilliance] that your eyes cannot bear it. Together with this light of pristine cognition, a dull smoky light, [indicative of] the hell [realms], will also dawn before you [and touch your heart]. At that time, under the sway of aversion, you will [wish to] turn away in fear and terror from the bright white light and come to perceive the dull smoky light of the hell [realms] with delight. At that moment, you should fearlessly recognise the white light, white and dazzling, radiant and clear, to be pristine cognition. Have confidence in it! Be drawn to it with longing devotion! Fray with devotion, thinking: ‘This is the light ray of the transcendent lord Vajrasattva’s compassion. I take refuge in it.’ This, in reality, is Vajrasattva and his consort come to escort you on the dangerous pathway of the intermediate state. This is the light-ray hook of Vajrasattva’s compassion! Be devoted to it! Do not delight in the dull smoky light of the hell [realms]! This [dull light] is the inviting path of the negative obscurations created by your own deep aversion, which you yourself have generated. If you become attached to it, you will fall into the realms of hell, sinking into a swamp of unbearable suffering, from which there will be no [immediate] opportunity for escape. [This dull light] is an obstacle blocking the path to liberation. Do not look at it! Abandon your aversion! Do not be attached to it! Do not cling to it! Be devoted to the white light, radiant and dazzling! Focus intently on the transcendent lord Vajrasattva and recite the following aspirational prayer:
O, as I roam in cyclic existence [driven] by deep-seated aversion,
May the transcendent lord Vajrasattva draw me forward,
Leading me on the path of radiant light, Which is the mirror-like pristine cognition.
May the supreme consort Buddhalocana support me from behind,
And, thus [encircled], may I be rescued
From the fearsome passageway of the intermediate state,
And be escorted to the level of an utterly perfect buddha.
By making this aspirational prayer with fervent devotion, [you] will dissolve into rainbow light in the heart of the transcendent lord Vajrasattva, and you will attain buddhahood, as the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, in the eastern Buddha field of Manifest Joy (Abhirati).
Yet, even after being introduced in this way, there are some individuals who will turn away in fear from the light-ray hook of compassion, being gripped by pride and powerful negative obscuration.45 So it is that, on the third day, the transcendent lord Ratnasambhava’s assembly of deities will come to escort [the deceased] and simultaneously the light path indicative of the human realm will emerge.
Again, calling the deceased by name, the introduction should be given with the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen without distraction. On the third day, the purity of the entire element earth will arise in the form of a yellow light. At this time, from the yellow southern Buddha field of the Glorious (Srimat), the transcendent lord Ratnasambhava will dawn before you, his body yellow in colour, holding in his [right] hand a jewel, seated on a horse throne and embraced by his supreme consort Mdmaki. They are encircled by two male bodhisattvas, Akdsagarbha and Samantabhadra, and two female bodhisattvas, Mdlyd and Dhupd, thus, six buddha-bodies will be shining before you from within a space of rainbow light.
A yellow light [indicative of] the pristine cognition of sameness, which is the natural purity of the aggregate of feeling, yellow and dazzling, adorned by greater and lesser seminal points [of light], radiant, clear and unbearable to the eyes, [will emanate] from the heart of Ratnasambhava and his consort and will shine piercingly before you at the level of your heart [with such brilliance] that your eyes cannot bear it. Together with the light of pristine cognition, a dull blue light, [indicative of] the human realm, will also dawn before you and touch your heart. At that time, under the sway of pride, you will [wish to] turn away in fear and terror from the bright yellow light and you will come to delight in the dull blue light of the human realm and feel attachment towards it. At that moment, abandon your fear of the yellow light, and recognise it as pristine cognition, yellow and dazzling, radiant and clear! Let your awareness relax and abide directly within it, in a state of non-activity.46 Again and again, have confidence in it! Be drawn to it with longing devotion! If you recognise it as the natural luminosity of your own awareness, even though you may feel no devotion towards it and have not recited the aspirational prayer, all the buddha-bodies and light rays will dissolve inseparably into you and you will attain buddhahood. If you are unable to recognise this [radiance] as being the natural luminosity of your own awareness, then pray with devotion, thinking: ‘This is the light ray of the transcendent lord Ratnasambhava’s compassion. I take refuge in it.’ This, in reality, is the transcendent lord Ratnasambhava come to escort you on the fearsome dangerous pathway of the intermediate state. This is the light-ray hook of Ratnasambhava’s compassion! Be devoted to it! Do not delight in the dull blue light of the human realm. This [dull light] is the inviting path created by your own habitual tendencies for deep-seated pride, which you yourself have generated. If you become attached to it, you will tumble down into the human realm, you will experience the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death, and there will be no [immediate] opportunity to escape from the swamp of cyclic existence. This [dull light] is an obstacle blocking the path to liberation! Do not look at it! Abandon pride! Abandon your habitual tenden-cies! Do not be attached to the dull blue light! Do not cling to it! Be devoted to the yellow light, golden and dazzling. Focus intently and single-mindedly on the transcendent lord Ratnasambhava and recite the following aspirational prayer:
O, as I roam in cyclic existence [driven] by deep-seated pride,
May the transcendent lord Ratnasambhava draw me forward,
Leading me on the path of radiant light,
Which is the pristine cognition of sameness.
May the supreme consort Mamakl support me from behind,
And, thus [encircled], may I be rescued
From the fearsome passageway of the intermediate state,
And be escorted to the level of an utterly perfect buddha.
By making this aspirational prayer with fervent devotion, you will dissolve into rainbow light in the heart of the transcendent lord Ratnasambhava, and you will attain buddhahood, as the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, in the southern Buddha field of the Glorious {Srimat).
There is no doubt that if [the deceased] are receptive to this introduction, they will attain liberation, however weak their [individual] ability may be. Yet, even after being given this introduction many times, there are some whose positive opportunities have been exhausted by, for example, their great negativity or through not having maintained their commitments and so forth, who, even now, will not have accepted this introduction. These individuals will have turned away in fear of both the sounds and the luminosities and become agitated by desire and negative obscuration. So it is that, on the fourth day, the transcendent lord Amitabha’s assembly of deities will come to escort them and, at that same time, the light path [indicative of the realm] of the anguished spirits, which is generated by desire and miserliness, will emerge. Again, calling the deceased by name, the introduction should be given with the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen without distraction. On the fourth day, the purity of the element fire will arise in the form of a red light. At that time, from the red western Buddha field of the Blissful (Sukhdvati), the transcendent lord Amitdbha will dawn before you, his body red in colour, holding in his [right] hand a lotus flower, seated on a peacock throne and embraced by the supreme consort Pdndaravdsini. They are encircled by two male bodhisattvas, Avalokitesvara and Manjusrt, and two female bodhisattvas, Gftd and Alokd, thus, six buddha-bodies will be shining before you from within a space of rainbow light.
A red light [indicative of] the pristine cognition of discernment, which is the natural purity of the aggregate of perceptions, red and dazzling, adorned by greater and lesser seminal points, radiant and clear, bright and dazzling, [will emanate] from the heart of Amitdbha and his consort and will shine piercingly before you at the level of your heart [with such brilliance] that your eyes cannot bear it. Do not be afraid! Together with the light of pristine cognition, a dull yellow light, [indicative of the realm] of anguished spirits, will also dawn before you [and touch your heart]. Do not delight [in the dull yellow light]! Do not become attached to it and do not cling to it! At this time, under the sway of deep desire, you will [wish to] turn away in terror from the bright red light and you will come to delight in the dull yellow light of the anguished spirits and feel attachment towards it. At this moment, abandon your fear, and recognise the red light, bright and dazzling, radiant and clear, to be pristine cognition. Let your awareness relax and abide directly within it, resting in a state of non-activity. Have confidence in the radiant, red luminosity! Be drawn to it with longing devotion. If you recognise this radiance as the natural luminosity of your own awareness, even though you may feel no devotion towards it and have not recited the aspirational prayer, all the buddha-bodies and light rays will dissolve inseparably [into you] and you will attain buddhahood. If you are not able to recognise [the radiance] in this way, then pray with devotion, thinking: ‘This is the light ray of the transcendent lord Amitabha’s compassion. I take refuge in it.’ This truly is the light-ray hook of the transcendent lord Amitabha’s compassion! Be devoted to it! Do not turn away! Should you turn away, the luminosity will accompany you inseparably. Do not be afraid! Do not be attached to the dull yellow light of the anguished spirits! This is the inviting path created by your own habitual tendencies for deep-seated desire, which you yourself have generated. If you become attached to this [dull light], you will fall down into the realm of the anguished spirits and you will experience unbearable sufferings of hunger and thirst. This [dull light] is an obstacle blocking the path to liberation! Do not be attached to it! Abandon your attachment! Do not cling to it! Be devoted to the red light, which is radiant and dazzling, and focus intently and single-mindedly on the transcendent lord Amitdbha and his consort, and recite the following aspirational prayer:
O, as I roam in cyclic existence [driven] by deep-seated desire, May the transcendent lord Amitdbha draw me forward, Leading me on the path of radiant light, Which is the pristine cognition of discernment. May the supreme consort Pandaravdsint support me from behind,
And, thus [encircled], may I be rescued
Prom the fearsome passageway of the intermediate state,
And be escorted to the level of an utterly perfect buddha.
By making this aspirational prayer with fervent devotion, you will dissolve into rainbow light in the heart of the transcendent lord Amitdbha and his consort, and you will attain buddhahood, as the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, in the western Buddha field of the Blissful (Sukhavati).
Although it is impossible not to be liberated by [the successful recognition of] this [introduction], there are nonetheless those who will be unable to give up their propensities due to habituation over long periods of time, even after receiving such an introduction. Under the sway of envy and negative past actions, they will become fearful and overawed by the sounds and luminosities. Failing to be caught by the light-ray hook of compassion, they roam downwards into the fifth day. So it is that, on the fifth day, the transcendent lord Amoghasiddhi’s assembly of deities, resplendent with the light rays of compassion, will come to escort them and, at the same time, the light path indicative of [the realm of] the antigods, which is generated by the dissonant mental state of envy, will emerge invitingly.
Again, calling the deceased by name, the introduction should now be given with the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen without distraction. On the fifth day, the purity of the entire wind element will arise in the form of a green light. At that time, from the green northern Buddha field [called] Matrix of Enlightened Activities (Karmaprasiddhi), the transcendent lord Buddha Amoghasiddhi with his retinue will dawn before you, his body green in colour, holding in his [right] hand a crossed-vajra, seated on a civamcivaka bird throne and embraced by the supreme consort Samayatdrd. These two are encircled by two male bodhisattvas, Vajrapdni and Nivdranavis-khambhin, and two female bodhisattvas, Gandhd and Narti. Thus, six buddha-bodies will be shining [before you] from within a space of rainbow light.
A green light [indicative of] the pristine cognition of accomplishment, which is the natural purity of the aggregate of motivational tendencies, green and dazzling, radiant and clear, bright and awesome, adorned by greater and lesser seminal points, [will emanate] from the heart of Amoghasiddhi and his consort and it will shine piercingly before you at the level of your heart, [with such brilliance] that your eyes cannot bear it. Do not be afraid! This is the natural expressive power of your own awareness! Rest in a state of great equanimity, transcending activity, free from [the dichotomies of] attachment and aversion, based on [your feelings of] nearness and distance. Together with the light of pristine cognition, a dull red light, [indicative of the realm] of the antigods and formed by envy, will also dawn before you [and touch your heart]. Cultivate an equanimity toward this [dull light] which is free from attachment or aversion! Even if your mental capacity is diminished, at least do not delight in it. At this time, under the sway of deep envy, you will [wish to] turn away in terror from the bright and dazzling green luminosity and you will come to feel delight and attachment towards the dull red light of the antigods. At this moment, abandon your fear, and recognise the green luminosity, bright and dazzling, radiant and clear, to be pristine cognition. Let your awareness relax and abide directly within it, resting in a state of non-activity. Pray with devotion, thinking: ‘This is the light ray of the transcendent lord Amoghasiddhi’s compassion. I take refuge in it.’ This, in reality, is the light-ray hook of the transcendent lord Amoghasiddhi’s compassion, which is known as the pristine cognition of accomplishment. Be devoted to it! Do not turn away! Even if you do turn away, the luminosity will accompany you inseparably. So, do not be afraid! Do not be attached to the dull red light of the antigods. This is the inviting path of your past actions, which you yourself have engaged in, whilst motivated by deep envy. If you become attached to this dull light, you will fall into the realms of the antigods and experience the unbearable sufferings of [unrelenting] conflict and quarrelling. This [dull light] is an obstacle blocking the path to liberation! Do not be attached to it! Give up your yearning! Do not cling to it! Be devoted to the green light, which is radiant and dazzling, and focus intently and single-mindedly on the transcendent lord Amoghasiddhi and his consort, and recite the following aspirational prayer:
O, as I roam in cyclic existence [driven] by deep-seated envy, May the transcendent lord Amoghasiddhi draw me forward, Leading me on the path of radiant light, Which is the pristine cognition of accomplishment. May the supreme consort Samayatdrd support me from behind, And, thus [encircled], may I be rescued From the fearsome passageway of the intermediate state, And be escorted to the level of an utterly perfect buddha.
By making this aspirational prayer with fervent devotion, you will dissolve into rainbow light in the heart of the transcendent lord Amoghasiddhi and his consort, and you will attain buddhahood, as the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, in the northern Buddha field [called] ‘Matrix of Enlightened Activities’ (Karmaprasiddhi).
By giving this introduction repeatedly in this way, however weak the [positive] residue of [a deceased individual’s] past actions might be, he or she will [have the opportunity to] attain recognition at one point or another. As recognition occurs at any point, it will be impossible for liberation not to be achieved.
However, owing to a long association with myriad habitual tendencies and an unfamiliarity with pure vision and pristine cognition, even after being introduced repeatedly in this way, there are some who are nevertheless led backwards by negative propensities, despite this setting face to face having been given. Failing to be gripped by the light-ray hook of compassion, they will be overcome by awe and terror [upon the arising] of the lights and rays, and continue to wander downwards.
Thereupon, on the sixth day, the male and female deities of the five enlightened families, together with their retinues, will arise simultaneously, and at that very moment, the six [dull] lights, [indicative] of the six classes of living beings, will also arise simultaneously.
Therefore, calling the deceased by name, the introduction should be given with the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen without distraction. Until yesterday the visions of the five individual enlightened families arose before you. Despite this, even though the [former] introduction was given, you experienced awe and terror; a response generated by your habitual tendencies. Consequently, you have remained in your present state, until now. If you had previously recognised [one of] the natural luminosities of the pristine cognitions of the five enlightened families as being a natural manifestation [of actual reality], you would have dissolved into rainbow light [at the heart] of [one of] these buddha-bodies of the five respective enlightened families, and attained buddhahood, in the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource. Yet, since you have been unable to recognise these [experiences] as being natural manifestations, you have wandered here. Therefore, listen now, without distraction. The vision of the entire [peaceful assembly] of the five enlightened families, together with that which is called: ‘the vision of the four pristine cognitions combined’,47 will now come to invite you. Recognise this!
O, Child of Buddha Nature, [at this time] the four coloured lights, which are the pure forms of the four elements, will dawn before you; and, simultaneously, the buddha Vairocana and his consort will arise, as before, from the central Buddha field of the Pervasive Seminal Point [i.e. Akanistha-Ghanavyiiha]. [At that same moment], the buddha Vajrasattva and his consort, surrounded by their retinue, will arise from the eastern Buddha field of Manifest Joy (Abhirati). The buddha Ratnasambhava and his consort, together with their retinue, will arise from the southern Buddha field of the Glorious (Srimat). The buddha Amitabha and his consort, together with their retinue, will arise from the western Buddha field of the Blissful (Sukhavati), and the buddha Amoghasiddhi and his consort, together with their retinue, will now arise before you from the northern Buddha field [called] Matrix of Enlightened Activities [i.e. Karmaprasiddhi], [all arising together] out of a space of rainbow light.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, encircling these male and female deities of the five enlightened families, the male gatekeepers, [Trailokyajvijaya, Yamdntaka, Hayagrivardja and Amrtakundalin, will also arise, together with the female gatekeepers, Ankuia, Paid, Sphotd and Ghantd. In addition, the six [emanational] sages who are transcendent lords, will also appear before you: Indrasakra who is the sage of the gods, Vemacitra who is the sage of the antigods, Sakyamuni who is the sage of humans, Sthirasimha who is the sage of the animals, Jvdlamukha who is the sage of the anguished spirits, and Dharmardja who is the sage of the hell beings. [Accompanying the above array], Samantabhadra and Samantabhadrl will also arise before you, [in the form called] Samantabhadra and Consort in Union, [the coalescence] which is the progenitor of all the buddhas.
These, the forty-two assembled deities of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, will emanate from within your heart and then appear before you. Recognise them! For they have arisen from within your own pure vision! O, Child of Buddha Nature, these buddha fields do not exist extraneously. They are the five aspects of your own heart; its four directions and centre. Emanating now from within your own heart, they have arisen before you. These buddha-bodies have not arisen extraneously. They have spontaneously arisen, atemporally, from the natural expressive power of your own awareness. Therefore recognise them as they are!
O, Child of Buddha Nature, these buddha-bodies [that you see before you] are neither large nor small, but perfectly proportioned, and they are [all adorned] with their respective ornaments, [costumes], colours, postures, thrones and hand-gestures. The array is made up of [central] couples [of male and female deities], forming five distinct clusters, and each cluster of five is encircled by an aura of five-coloured lights. All the male bodhisattvas of the [five] enlightened families who accompany the male [buddhas], all the female bodhisattvas of the [five] enlightened families who accompany the female [buddhas], and the entire mandala will arise [before you], perfectly and simultaneously. So recognise them! They are your own meditational deities!
O, Child of Buddha Nature, from the hearts of the male and female buddhas of the five enlightened families, the light rays of the ‘four pristine cognitions combined’, very fine and clear, like a spider’s web, will dawn before your heart, [like the] entwined light rays of the sun.
First, a sheet of radiant white48 light rays, bright and awesome, [indicative of] the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse, will emanate from the heart of Vairocana, and touch your heart. Above49this sheet of light, a white seminal point resembling a mirror facing downwards will arise, emanating light rays, extremely radiant, bright and dazzling, adorned with five distinct seminal points of like nature, each of which in turn will be adorned by greater and lesser seminal points, [forming an array] with no centre or horizon.
[Second], a sheet of radiant blue light, [indicative of] the mirror-like pristine cognition, [will emanate] from the heart of Vajrasattva. Above this, like a turquoise bowl facing downwards, a radiant blue seminal point will arise, [also] adorned by [an array of] greater and lesser seminal points.
[Third], a sheet of radiant yellow light, [indicative of] the pristine cognition of sameness, [will emanate] from the heart of Ratnasambhava. Above this, like a gold cup facing downwards, a radiant yellow seminal point will arise, [also] adorned by [an array of] greater and lesser seminal points.
[Fourth], a sheet of radiant red light, [indicative of] the pristine cognition of discernment, [will emanate] from the heart of Amitabha. Above this, like a coral bowl facing downwards, a radiant red seminal point will arise, extremely luminous and dazzling, [resplendent] with the luminosity of pristine cognition. It too will be adorned with five distinct seminal points of like nature, each of which in turn will also be adorned by greater and lesser seminal points, [forming an array] with no centre or horizon. All of these [lights and seminal points] will indeed arise, and touch your heart.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, these [radiances] are arising out of the natural expressive power of your own awareness. They have not come from anywhere else. Therefore, do not be attached to them! Do not be afraid of them! Relax and rest in a non-conceptual state.50 [Abiding] in this state, all the buddha-bodies and light rays will merge into you, and buddhahood will then be attained.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, [during the above series] the green light [indicative] of the pristine cognition of accomplishment will not arise. The reason for this is that the natural expressive power of pristine cognition, which is your own intrinsic awareness, is not yet perfected.51
O, Child of Buddha Nature, this [array of luminosities that you are now experiencing] is called: ‘the vision of the four pristine cognitions combined’. It is [also] known as the ‘hollow passageway of Vajrasattva’.52 At this time, therefore, you should recall the oral instructions, which your spiritual teacher formerly introduced to you. If you [successfully] recall this [former] introduction, you will have confidence in the visions that have already arisen, and you will recognise them, just as there is instant recognition at the meeting of a mother and her son, or just as one instantly recognises an old acquaintance the moment one sees them. Cutting through any doubt, you will recognise [these radiances] to be natural manifestations [of actual reality]. Achieving confidence, in this way, in the unchanging path of pure reality, and sustaining a continuous meditative stability,53 you will dissolve into the buddha-body of great spontaneously present awareness54 and irreversibly attain buddhahood in the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, together with the radiances of pristine cognition, the six [dull] lights [indicative] of the six classes [of beings] who are obscured by impure and bewildering perception, will also arise simultaneously. That is to say, the dull white light of the gods, the dull red light of the antigods, the dull blue light of the humans, the dull green light of the animals, the dull yellow light of the anguished spirits, and the dull smoky light of the inhabitants of the hells will arise alongside the radiances of pure pristine cognition. At that moment, do not seize upon, or become attached to, any [of these lights]! Relax and abide in a non-referential state. For if you are fearful of the pure radiances of pristine cognition and become attached to the impure lights of cyclic existence with its six classes [of beings], you will assume a body amongst [one of] these six realms, and you will be debilitated; for there will be no [immediate] opportunity for escape from cyclic existence, this vast ocean of suffering.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, if you are one who has not been introduced to the oral instructions of a spiritual teacher, you will be frightened and overwhelmed by these buddha-bodies and the radiances of pure pristine cognition, just described, and you will feel attachment towards the [dull] lights of impure cyclic existence. Do not do this! Be devoted to the bright and dazzling radiances of pure pristine cognition. Be full of devotion and think: ‘The light rays of pristine cognition, which are the compassion of Those Gone to Bliss, the transcendent lords of the five enlightened families, have come to seize me with compassion. I take refuge in them.’ Do not be attached to the bewildering lights of the six classes [of beings]. Do not cling to them! Focus one-pointedly on the male and female buddhas of the five enlightened families and recite the following aspirational prayer:
O, as I roam in cyclic existence [driven] by the five virulent poisons,
May the transcendent conquerors, [the male buddhas] of the five enlightened families, draw me forward,
Leading me on the path of radiant light,
Which is the four pristine cognitions combined.
May the five supreme female buddhas, [the purity of] the expanse, support me from behind,
And, thus [encircled], may I be rescued
From the light paths of the six impure classes [of beings]!
Released from the fearsome passageway of the intermediate state,
May I be escorted to the five utterly supreme and pure buddha fields.
By making this aspirational prayer, [the superior adept] will recognise [the radiances of pristine cognition] to be natural manifestations [of actual reality] and thereby, upon dissolving indivisibly with them, buddhahood will be attained. Those of average ability will achieve recognition on the basis of fervent devotion and thereby attain liberation, and even all [those of inferior ability] can, through the power of pure aspiration, close the womb entrances through which the six classes [of beings are born]. Thus, if the nature of ‘the four pristine cognitions combined’ is realised, [all of the above individuals] can attain buddhahood through ‘the hollow passageway of Vajrasattva’. As a result of being introduced in such a clear and detailed way, the majority will attain recognition and many [individuals] will achieve liberation.
However, those most lowly individuals in the human world who totally lack the propensities for spiritual practice, and those who have broken their commitments and so forth, will continue to be bewildered, as a result of their [negative] past actions. Despite being introduced, they will continue to roam downwards, failing to achieve recognition.
So it is, that on the seventh day, the divine assembly of the Awareness Holders will arise from the pure realm of the sky-farers and come to escort [the deceased], as will, simultaneously, the light path to the animal realm, formed of the dissonant mental state, delusion.55
At this time, calling the deceased by name, the introduction should be given with the following words:
O, Child of Buddha Nature, listen without distraction. On the seventh day, a five-faceted multicoloured light, [which is indicative of] the purity of your habitual tendencies in the expanse [of reality], will arise before you. Simultaneously, the divine assembly of the awareness holders, arising from the pure realm of the sky-farers, will come forward to escort you.
In the centre of [this mandala], suffused by rainbows and light, the unsurpassed [Vidyddhara] known as the ‘awareness holder of maturation’, Padmanartesvara, will instantaneously arise, his body resplendent with the radiance of the five lights, embraced by his consort, a red ddkini, [who is dancing] with a blood-filled skull and a curved knife, raised in the gesture of pointing to the sky.
From the east of the mandala, [the Vidyddhara] known as the ‘awareness holder who abides on the levels’ will instantaneously arise, his body white in colour, his face radiant and smiling. He is embraced by his consort, a white ddkini, who is dancing with a blood-filled skull and a curved knife, raised in the gesture of pointing to the sky.
From the south of the mandala, [the Vidyddhara] known as the ‘awareness holder with power over the lifespan’ will instantaneously arise, his body yellow in colour and adorned by the exquisite [eighty] minor marks. He is embraced by his consort, a yellow dakinl, who is dancing with a blood-filled skull and a curved knife, raised in the gesture of pointing to the sky.
From the west of the mandala, [the Vidyddhara] known as the ‘awareness holder of the great seal’ will instantaneously arise, his body red in colour, his face radiant and smiling. He is embraced by his consort, a red dakinl, who is dancing with a blood-filled skull and a curved knife, raised in the gesture of pointing to the sky.
From the north of the mandala, [the Vidyddhara] known as the ‘awareness holder of spontaneous presence’ will instantaneously arise, his body green in colour, his face both wrathful and smiling. He is embraced by his consort, a green dakinl, who is dancing with a blood-filled skull and a curved knife, raised in the gesture of pointing to the sky.
Encircling these awareness holders, there will be inestimable crowds of dakinis: the ddkinls of the eight charnel grounds, ddkinls of the four enlightened families, ddkinls of the three abodes, ddkinls of the ten directions, ddkinls of the twenty-four power-places, spiritual heroes and heroines, faithful retainers,56 and protectors of the [sacred] teachings – all wearing the six kinds of bone ornaments, playing drums, thigh-bone trumpets, and skull drums and [waving] banners made of the hide of ‘ritually liberated’ beings, canopies and streamers of human hide, [the entire display pervaded by] an incense cloud of burning human flesh, reverberating with the sound of countless and diverse musical instruments, the sound permeating all world systems, causing them to vibrate, tremble and quake. The crescendo will reverberate as if to split your head. Performing their diverse dances, this [array] will come to escort those who have kept their commitments and to bring to account those who have allowed their commitments to degenerate.
O, Child of Buddha Nature, a five-coloured light, which is [indicative of] the purity of your habitual tendencies in the expanse [of reality] and of coemergent pristine cognition, composed of coloured threads [of light] twisted together, pulsing, shimmering, translucent, radiant, clear, bright and awesome, [will emanate] from the hearts of the five principal awareness holders and will shine piercingly before you, at the level of your heart [with such brilliance] that your eyes cannot bear it. At that moment, a dull green light, [indicative of] the realms of the animals, will arise simultaneously with the light of pristine cognition [and touch your heart]. At this time, bewildered and confused by your past habitual tendencies, you will be frightened by the five-coloured light, and wish to turn away. Instantly, you will be attracted to the dull light of the animal realms, so therefore, do not be frightened now by the bright and flashing five-coloured light! Do not be terrified! Recognise this [radiance] to be pristine cognition! Within the [five-coloured] light, all the natural sounds of the sacred teachings will resound like a thousand simultaneous peals of thunder. They will resound like a [violent] echo, an overwhelming reverberation, a tumultuous crescendo, a cacophony of war cries, and [pound with the roar of] wrathful mantras of terrifying ferocity. Do not be afraid! Do not turn away! Recognise these sounds and luminosities to be the naturally expressive power of your own awareness, manifesting naturally. Do not be attracted to the dull green light of the animals. Do not cling to it! If you become attached to it, you will fall into the obscured realms of the animals and be enveloped by the limitless sufferings of obfuscation, dumbness and servility, from which there will be no [immediate] opportunity for release. So do not be attached to that [dull green light]! Be devoted to the five-coloured light that is radiant and dazzling! Focus intently and one-pointedly on the divine assembly of the awareness holders, the transcendent lords and spiritual teachers, thinking: ‘As you, the Awareness Holders together with your [attending] heroes and dakinls have come forward to escort me to the pure realm of the sky-farers, I implore you, pity sentient beings such as myself who have failed to amass the accumulations [of merit and pristine cognition], and pity those such as I, who have not been rescued until now, even though we have been embraced by the compassion of all the assembled deities of the five enlightened families, Those Gone to Bliss, throughout the three times! Today may you, the divine assembly of awareness holders, not allow me to descend any further than this. Grasp me with the hook of your compassion, and lead me immediately to the pure realm of the sky-farers.’ Focusing intently and one-pointedly on the divine [mandala of] awareness holders, recite the following aspirational prayer:
O, as I roam in cyclic existence [driven] by deep-seated habitual tendencies,
May the divine assembly of awareness holders attend to me
And lead me on the path, with great love.
May the assembly of spiritual heroes and awareness holders draw me forward,
Leading me on the path of radiant light,
Which is [the luminance of] coemergent pristine cognition.
May the supreme consorts, the hosts of dakinls, support me from behind,
And, thus [encircled], may I be rescued
From the fearsome passageway of the intermediate state,
And be escorted to the [sacred] pure realm of the sky-farers.
By making this aspirational prayer with fervent devotion, you will dissolve into rainbow light, in the heart of the divine assembly of the awareness holders, and thereafter, undoubtedly, be born into the pure-realm of the sky-farers.
All types of spiritual friend can attain recognition at this stage, and [thus] they will attain liberation. There is no doubt that even those with negative propensities can attain liberation at this point.
This concludes the first part of the Great Liberation by Hearing, the introduction to inner radiance in the intermediate state of the time of death and the introduction to the peaceful deities of the intermediate state of reality.
in! samaya! rgya rgya rgyal