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A Masked Drama of Rebirth

This allegorical play portrays the experiences of the archetypal evildoer Laksandraka and the archetypal virtuous householder Srtjdta as they meet with Yama, the embodiment of the inexorable laws of cause and effect, in the intermediate state of rebirth. This lighthearted masked drama is still commonly performed today during public ceremonial occasions throughout Tibet, Bhutan and the Buddhist regions of the Himalayas. The play is staged, often to huge audiences, in the courtyards or public ceremonial areas of a monastery, often at the time of the annual 10th day sacred dances commemorating the life of Padmasambhava.

Herein is contained [a masked drama entitled] Natural Liberation of the Intermediate State of Rebirth: A Teaching Revealing the Natural Expression of Virtue and Negativity, in the Intermediate State of Rebirth;1 which is an extract from the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: A Profound Sacred Teaching [entitled] Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention.2
I respectfully bow down to the uncreated Buddha-body of Reality:
Samantabhadra and Samantabhadrl in union;
To the unceasing Buddha-body of Perfect Resource:
The Peaceful and Wrathful Lotus Deities;
And to the naturally arising Buddha-body of Emanation: Padmakara.
May [all beings] be liberated in the intermediate state!
Having earlier presented the empowerments and introductions
From the Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States, An extract from the Peaceful and Wrathful Lotus Deities,3
And having introduced the intermediate state of reality, which is the ‘great liberation by seeing’,4
Now I will present [a means of demonstrating] the introduction to the intermediate state of rebirth.5
Here, having completed the previous introductions [to the intermediate states of the time of death and reality], I will present [in the form of a masked drama] the introduction to the intermediate state of rebirth. The spiritual teacher [should now appear fully attired] in the costume of Yama Dharmaraja, and wear a large wrathful mask, depicting Yama. He is carrying a large wooden slate in his right hand, and in his left he holds a large round mirror. Dressed in a silk brocade gown, he is seated on a great throne. In his retinue, there is a figure dressed as the black Ox-headed Raksa Demon,6 wearing an ox-head mask and holding a black lasso. Then, seated to the right, there is another figure dressed as the Monkey-headed Elemental Spirit,7 with the face of a monkey, and holding a weight and measure in his hands.8 Other figures also present include: one dressed as the Boar-headed Cemetery Spirit,9carrying a wooden slate; one dressed as the venomous Snake-headed Demon,10 with the face of a snake and carrying a mirror; one dressed as the ferocious Bear-headed figure,11 with the face of a bear and holding a bellows; one dressed as the awesome Lion-headed figure,12 with the face of a lion and clutching a ham-mer; and one dressed as the Garuda-headed Bird figure,13 with the face of a garuda and holding a saw. These figures with diverse [animal]-heads who are attired similarly to Yama, are dignified and standing in rows, to the right and left of Dharmaraja.
The deity representing [the deceased’s] good conscience14 is wearing a white peaceful mask and a white silk robe, and is carrying a bowl filled with white pebbles. The demon representing [the deceased’s] bad conscience15 is wearing a black wrathful mask and a black gown, and is carrying a bowl filled with black pebbles. Before Dharmaraja, on the right, is a long white carpet, which is rolled out like a white pathway, and at its end are two figures dressed in the costume of Mahdkarunika, with one face and four arms, and bedecked with ornaments. They are seated at the end [of the white carpet] on a throne which is hidden by a curtain. On the left side is a long black carpet, which is rolled out like a black pathway, and it leads to the door of a dark room.
Hidden elsewhere, in his home, is a person named the late Srljata (‘gloriously born’);16 while hidden somewhere in the corner [of the stage], is someone named the late Laksandraka (‘hundred thousand hells’),17 who is a wrongdoing outcaste18 of low birth.
DHARMARAJA (as he draws a cross on the wooden slate): O! Ox-headed Raksa, it seems the time of death has come for a person in their home in the human world; the indication of this has appeared on my wooden slate.
ox-headed raksa {calling to the venomous Snake-headed Demon): O, Venomous Snake-headed One! Look in your mirror! What is this deceased person’s country? What is his family line? And what is his name? Please look!
venomous snake-headed demon: O! The deceased whose time has come is from the country of Tamradvlpa in India, and he lived in the city of Santikala, which is a township of butchers. As for his family line, he belonged to the lowest social class of the four classes;19 and his name is the wrongdoing Laksanaraka. His lifespan has come to an end, and [thus an indication of this] has appeared on the wooden slate. Now, go [and fetch him]!
{Thereupon, the Ox-headed Raksa, the Boar-headed Cemetery Spirit, and the demon representing [the deceased’s] bad conscience run off, while, in their wake, the deity representing [the deceased’s] good conscience rushes to his assistance. As soon as they have found the ‘wrongdoing one’ in his house in the human world, they tie a black noose around his neck, and then Ox-headed [Raksa] and Boar-headed Cemetery Spirit both lead him away by the hands. The demon representing [the deceased’s] bad conscience chases him from behind, carrying a load of black pebbles. Meanwhile, the deity representing [the deceased’s] good conscience places [a mere] six white pebbles in the bowl for white pebbles, and, in embarrassment, tries to help. Holding a white scarf, with his hands folded in a gesture of supplication, he attempts to petition Ox-headed Raksa [on behalf of the deceased], but this is unsuccessful. Laksanaraka is then brought screaming into the presence of [Dharma-]raja.)
DHARMARAJA {interrogates him): Hmm! Who are you, you black human being, carrying a weight and measure? Where are you from? Why do you not dare to look at me directly? You appear to have attained a human form, but what portion of your positive virtue is [now] left? Have you ever had any scruples about committing negative actions? What do you have to say about this? Speak quickly now!
THE WRONGDOING ONE [laksanaraka] (lamentingly): Alas! Alas! Permit me to speak in the presence of Yama Dharmaraja! I had an ordinary human form, my resources were few, my food and clothing poor. I have had many female dependants and thus little to eat. I had to take the lives of many beings and many years have passed since I ate rice, for I had nothing but warm [freshly slain] meat to eat. Many years have passed since I drank rice wine or pure liquor; for when thirsty I had to drink water and blood.
Nowadays in the populated areas of the world there are many who claim to be spiritual friends. They frequently teach about the defects of having committed negative actions and the benefits of having carried out positive actions. However, I did not go to them! Also, everyone would say, ‘Don’t persist in such negative actions, as one day death will come, and at that time you will go to the hells. You should renounce wrongdoing and perform virtuous actions!’
Even though they advised me by saying these things, I thought, ‘I don’t know whether I believe in the hells or not, and anyway there is no one who says they have been there, and then returned [to prove it].’ So, I said to those people, ‘Who has gone to the hells and then returned? If the hells exist, where are they? These are just the lies of clever-talking people. Under the ground, there is just solid earth and solid rock. There are no hells. Above, there is only empty sky. There are no buddhas. So now while I’m alive, if I kill for my food, it doesn’t matter. When I die, my body will be taken to the charnel ground and it will be eaten by birds and wild animals. Not a trace will be left. My mind will vanish, so at that time who will be left to go to the hells.20 ha! ha!’
So I did not believe in the hells and I committed negative acts. And I thought, ‘Even if the hells do exist, they will only be set in some remote future life, so if I have sufficient food and clothing for now, the next life doesn’t seem to matter.’ So it was through this misunderstanding, this lack of awareness, and stupidity that I committed evil acts. It happened because I was not acquainted with the fact that you, Dharmaraja, [you] Ox-headed Raksa and [all you] others, actually exist. I did not knowingly do evil just out of contempt for all of you, who exist here in the world of the intermediate state. The fault lies with this misunderstanding and lack of awareness. So, now, all of you, lord and entourage, I request you not to pass judgement upon me. If I had known when I lived in the human world that this all actually existed, I would never have committed negative actions. Now I am stuck here under the influence of negative mental states. Alas! Alas!, since you are a King of Dharma, be merciful to me! Be my friend and supporter! Underground there exists great suffering, Dharmaraja, so do not send me down there! Instead, please send me upward into the human world! Thereafter I will never perform evil actions again – only good ones!
THE DEITY REPRESENTING THE GOOD CONSCIENCE {offering a white silk scarf): O! Dharmaraja, listen to me! This outcaste butcher from Tamradvlpa has committed evil deeds owing to his delusion and blinding ignorance, as a result of which he did not understand [the difference between] good and bad actions. Since he did not act knowingly or with understanding, I therefore petition you not to punish him. He has, after all, also carried out a small number of virtuous actions!
Once when six people were unable to escape from the current of a broad river, he saved all six – with a virtuous intent. As a mark of this, I have six white pebbles. And since there are also other virtuous actions, similar to this, which he has incidentally accumulated, Great Dharmaraja, I request your forgiveness on his behalf. (As he says this, he prostrates three times [before Dhar-maraja].)
THE BLACK DEMON [REPRESENTING THE BAD CONSCIENCE]: ha, ha! Is this all you have to say, white deity [of good conscience]! Are you not embarrassed to carry this [almost] empty bowl! He, this low-caste butcher, has spent his life in evil deeds and has robbed himself of his share of virtue.
He has slain all the animals he has ever seen.
He has taken warm flesh for food,
And he has drunk warm blood as a beverage.
He has continuously spoken harshly [towards others].
In the upper valleys he has slain innocent wildlife;
In the lower valleys he has slain innocent fish;
And in between he has beaten innocent beggars.
He has defamed each and every spiritual teacher,
Burnt down a large temple,
Polluted a great lake with poison,
Burnt a vast mountain forest,
Beaten his parents,
and destroyed a sacred reliquary.
Now in Tamradvlpa, India,
There is no greater wrongdoer than he!
Look at the mound of black pebbles!
(turning to Laksandraka)
In case you don’t recognise yourself,
Your country is Tamralipti, India,21
And your city is Santikala. Your father is the butcher, Tripon,22
Who came here eight years ago.
Your mother is the butcheress, Pelkyi,23
Who came here five years ago.
You are the offspring of these outcaste butchers.
Now you have come here – haven’t you? The year is the Water Female Pig,24
And this year your feeding [in the human world]
has come to an end.
All those of eastern India Call you ‘Red-handed Butcher’;
All those of southern India Call you the ‘wrongdoing Laksanaraka’;
All those of western India Call you ‘Black Low-caste Butcher’;
All those of northern India Call you the ‘Black Killer of All’.
Your caste is the black candala caste And your family line is that of wrongdoing butchers.
All generations of your family without exception Will take the path to hell.
When you were killing, you seemed happy;
When you ate, it seemed tasty,
But does it taste so good now?
What use is your clever,
slick-talking tongue [now] ?
Now the time has come for you to experience suffering,
In retribution for the million animal lives [you have taken].
If you don’t experience this suffering,
Then millions of creatures will have lost everything,
And you, Laksanaraka, will have gained everything.
As far as retribution for your crimes is concerned,
Even Dharmaraja with his mighty stature
Cannot stop the effects of your negative actions,
The greatest of which was burning down the temple,
And the smallest of which was the killing of lice.
This is why you have accumulated [all] these [black] pebbles.
So it is best if you prepare yourself to move on.
[Get ready to] go swiftly on this black path!
[There], the sealed copper cauldron [that awaits you] is wide and deep,
The waves of boiling bronze are fierce,
The fiery mass of past actions is intensely hot,
And the messengers of Yama have scant mercy.
Dharmaraja’s attitude is extremely fierce,
The weapons of past actions are sharply pointed,
And the black winds of past actions are very powerful.
Now is the time for you to go to such a place!
Though I really do have compassion for you,
I am nonetheless very, very satisfied!
You must carry on your back the weight and measure,
Which you used as a fraudulent weight and measure!
You must wear at your side the weapons
With which you killed many sentient beings!
You cannot deny or misrepresent these things!
Now the time has come for you to go
To the citadels of the eighteen hells.
(He begins to lead [Laksandraka] away.)
Alas! How pitiful! How terrifying!
When one has obtained a human form,
One should proceed, with highly purposeful virtuous conduct,
On the path of liberation, where inferior rebirths are left behind;
And [thus] one is never separated from peace and happiness.
But on this occasion when you obtained a human life,
You threw away positive actions like dirt,
And seized upon negative actions,
For which reason you have wasted this highly meaningful human body,
Which is difficult to obtain.
Since you have done nothing at all, other than return empty-handed [from this life],
You are [only] carrying the burden of your negative acts! How sad!
Since the actions you have carried out must ripen upon yourself,
You cannot be protected even by the power of a thousand buddhas.
So I cannot respond to this, [your appeal], in any way!
Since the results of the premeditated negative acts,
Which you carried out when you had freedom,
Will all come to ripen upon you,
Even though you wail and lament,
No one at all should feel sorry for you.
Even though you have hopes in me,
I have no means to act in any way.
Since this mirror of past actions, which reflects phenomenal existence,
Truly depicts the natural expression of virtuous and negative acts,
How can it be that no past actions will appear in the case of wrongdoers?
When the deity who is your good conscience
And the demon who is your bad conscience
Compare the black and white pebbles of past actions,
Happy is the man who has accumulated virtue!
How very remorseful are you, who have accumulated evil!
On this dangerous red passageway traversed by all,
When you are brought to trial by the executors of Yama’s rites,
Even though you may have been once very powerful,
Here, it will be of no avail!
Now is the time for the hearts and lungs of all great wrongdoers to be torn apart!
Since you have practised non-virtue,
This reckoning of your past actions
Will be quicker and more powerful than lightning,
So by fleeing you will not escape,
And by showing remorse, this will be of no help!
How pitiful are the human beings of Jambudvlpa
Who do not strive to practise the [sacred] teachings!
There will be no way of helping them.
This detailed accounting of positive and negative past actions
Forbids even the most minute negative deeds –
So what are those humans who have no scruples thinking of!
Though the white path of liberation leads to joy,
And the black path of inferior rebirth leads to suffering,
The humans of Jambudvlpa do not abandon negative actions,
Nor do they practise positive actions,
[And], even though they may feel sadness and remorse,
Past actions cannot be remade.
One’s past actions accompany one’s body like a shadow.
I hold all rewards in respect of positive virtues,
And I exact punishments in respect of negative deeds.
Judging the balance and counterbalance,
I examine good and bad actions.
So even though you have regrets, I cannot redo anything.
Now, even though I am very merciful, there is still no way that I can help you.
Once you take the black path to the hell realms,
You cannot be saved, even if you were to be engulfed by the compassion of the Sublime Ones.
So there is absolutely no way for me to do anything.
The Conqueror has said that sentient beings must reap [the fruits of] their own past actions.
So now the Ox-headed One will lead you away!
May your negativity and obscurations be quickly purified,
And may you then attain the ultimate level of the buddhas.
Ox-headed raksa: Since it is your own doing, even though you may have regrets, what is the use of that! As for us, we are not responsible [for your actions]! We have simply distinguished between truth and lies. If you had no responsibility for your past actions, then it would be meaningless for us to harm you. Now, as this is [the outcome of] your past actions, be off quickly!
(Then he leads [Laksandraka] away by a black noose, and the black demon [representing the bad conscience] drives hint from behind, goading him along the path represented by the black car-pet. Then in a dark room he is subjected to shouts of ‘Strike! Kill!’, which cause him to cry out in all sorts of ways.)
the spiritual teacher (then makes a detailed elucidation, beginning with the words): O, Children of Buddha Nature, those who have committed evil deeds will be singled out in this manner and their sufferings will be the same [as those described here]. You will definitely have such experiences. So, whether this core dilemma besets you at this time or not will depend on you yourselves. From now onwards, it is therefore important for you to strive after virtue, and avoid negativity, O, Children of Buddha Nature…
DHARMARAJA (as he draws a cross on his wooden slate): Alas! Ox-headed Raksa, there is someone from a household in the human world whose lifespan has come to an end. This sign has appeared on my wooden slate.
ox-headed raksa (calling to the venomous Snake-headed Demon): O Venomous Snake-headed One, look in your mirror! Look and see where the deceased is!
venomous snake-headed demon: The land of the one whose time has come, is in north-east India. The city is called Kamarupa.25 His social class, among the four classes, is the mercantile class,26 and his name is the householder, Srljata. His lifespan and merits have been exhausted, so the sign of this has appeared on the wooden slate. Now be off, quickly [and fetch him]!
(So, all three, Ox-headed Raksa, Boar-headed Cemetery Spirit, and the demon representing [the deceased’s] bad conscience run off, while in their wake, the deity representing [the deceased’s] good conscience rushes to his assistance. As soon as they have found the householder, Srtjdta, in the human world at Kdmarupa, the Ox-headed One leads him away and the Boar-headed One holds his arm, as the demon representing [the deceased’s] bad conscience chases him from behind. Meanwhile, the deity representing the good conscience offers assistance as the deceased is brought into the presence of Dharmaraja, who questions him.)
DHARMARAJA: O, deceased Child of Buddha Nature, have you not come from the human world? There you had a human body endowed with freedom and favourable opportunities, which is difficult to acquire. You have encountered the Buddha’s teachings, which are difficult to encounter; and you have been born as a man in Jambudvlpa, where it is difficult to take birth. What positive or virtuous past actions have you gathered? When you lived in the human world, did you practise the [sacred] teachings mindful of [cultivating] mental virtues and physical purity? What compounded virtues and attributes do you possess that would enable you to be saved [from rebirth in the hells] ? Did you create [images, books and stupas] representative of buddha-body, speech and mind? Did you commission the writing and recitation of the scriptures? Did you mould terracotta imprints? Did you offer water libations? Did you clear rocks from roads? Did you remove bother-some thorns from bad roads? Did you make offerings to those above? Did you bestow charity on those below? Did you scatter barley dough and grain at anthills? What other subtle acts of virtue did you accumulate, over and above these? Also, did you study, reflect and meditate [on the Buddhist teachings], and did you keep your one-day vows and fasts? Did you receive meditative instruction, empowerments and guidance? What other virtues of this type have you accumulated? Tell me quickly now! Negative past actions related to the body are killing, of which the greatest offence is the killing of one’s parents and the smallest is the killing of lice and nits, stealing, improper sexual conduct and so forth. So what negative actions of body have you accumulated?
Then the negative actions related to speech are: meaningless gossip, harsh words, slander, lies and so forth. So what negative actions of speech have you accumulated?
The negative actions related to mind are: covetousness, harmful intent, distorted views, and so on. So what negative actions have you accumulated mentally?
Also, with regard to the five inexpiable crimes and the five approximate [crimes], what negative or non-virtuous actions have you accumulated, motivated through body, speech, or mind? Tell me now in clear detail!
THE HOUSEHOLDER SRIJATA (in a terrified and trembling voice): May I speak in the presence of Dharmaraja! I am the householder Srtjdta, a citizen of the city of Kamarupa in the north-east of India. I also have female dependants. I was a humble person, self-sufficient in food and drink. I was a faithful devotee who made fulsome offerings to all the fine spiritual teachers who came to my district. I encouraged others to engage in virtuous actions. Motivated by virtue and good intent, I have restored ruined temples, saved many living creatures from certain death, and repeatedly received profound empowerments and guidance. When I travelled around, I cleared dangerous paths; when I stayed [at home] I recited the Six-syllable Mantra, and I kept my one-day vows and fasts. I am a householder who made offerings to the Three Precious Jewels above, and gave charity to those of unfortunate birth below. I am indeed a bodhisattva. This is why everyone calls me the householder Laksmin (‘endowed with wealth’). Such is the unbroken sequence of my virtuous actions.
As for my negative past actions, although I had the intention not to harm even a single living being, since I was submerged in the perverse world which is cyclic existence, and I had a son, and in order for him to be able to join in matrimony, I took the lives of ten animals [for the wedding feast]. I confessed the negativity of this action, and recited the Diamond Cutter27 one hundred times.
Then, when I and my neighbours took the lives of many living creatures in order to pay taxes in support of the village community, I too felt much remorse and made confession. Also, since I had lived as a worldly householder, I thought that I must have unintentionally killed [many insects] underfoot and by my hands, for which reason I often felt remorse.
Since the credentials of my virtuous and negative actions are established in these ways, I beg you to consider this conduct and favour me with your compassion.
DHARMARAJA: Well then, if it is true what you have said, then you have thought well about virtuous and negative actions, and about cause and effect; but I shall consult the mirror of past actions because you human beings are clever liars! (He shows him the mirror.) Look, fortunate Child of Buddha Nature! This mirror of past actions in which phenomenal existence is clearly reflected is clearer than the omniscient eye that perceives the three times. When it manifestly reveals the natural expression of virtuous and negative past actions, whatever you have done in the human world, all the virtuous and negative actions you have committed in the human world, will visibly appear, immediately. So what lies and deceit have you spoken? Look at this mirror right now! (Then, looking at the mirror) Well, the virtuous and negative actions of which you have now spoken are not false. Well done! You will be sent on the white path. [conscience]: Hey! May I speak in the presence of Dharmaraja! This bad person called the householder Srijata, has indulged his whole life in negative actions and has cared only for his own long-term selfish interests. His name is householder Srljata, and his nickname is ‘monkey-head’. As for this faithless householder Srljata, his [birth] year is the year of the ox, his [birth]place is Kamarupa city, and his background is that of the mercantile class. He engaged in the following negative actions: Hurrying uptown, he killed his father and quarrelled; then rushing downtown, he fought with his neighbours, he threw stones at the camel belonging to his neighbour Srlbhadra and although he killed it, he denied his action and lied about it. He pushed the scribe Prajnamati’s young elephant over a cliff, and, although he killed it, he denied his action and lied about it. Now, we can compare the pebbles! How will it be possible for him to take the white path? It is utterly appropriate that he should go on the black path. (He pours three handfuls of black pebbles in [to his bowl].)
THE WHITE DEITY [REPRESENTING THE GOOD CONSCIENCE]: May I speak in the presence of Dharmaraja! The householder Laksmin [Srljata] is a most faithful devotee. He has strong interest in the [sacred] teachings and has avoided negative actions. When about five hundred miscreants were brought to trial in the presence of the Maharaja, he offered five hundred srang of gold, and saved their lives. In the Indian city of Kamarupa, the householder Srljata alone is one who possesses great faith. Now, we can compare the pebbles! How will it be possible for him to take the black path? He should now set out, guided along the white path! (He pours out about six measures of white pebbles [into his bowl].)
THE MONKEY-HEADED ELEMENTAL SPIRIT: Deity and demon of conscience, both of you have no need to disagree, because when I raise my scale balance, the measures of virtue and negativity will be determined by the weights. Now, if you look, [the outcome] will be obvious. (He weighs the pebbles, whereupon the white [container] is three times heavier.)
DHARMARAJA: Wonderful! Those who have obtained a human body, who delight in the [sacred] teachings, and fully realise their life’s potential – as this [achievement] cannot be stolen or snatched by others – will themselves find happiness through their own virtues. With respect to this way of being, such as that of the householder Laksmin [Srijata] – how wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were to do the same! Supplicate Avalokitesvara right now, and instantly travel the white path! {Dharmardja prays) I pray to the meditational deity Mahakarunika, at the summit of Mount Potalaka in the east! Grant your blessing that we may realise the nature of mind to be the Buddha-body of Reality! (He then recites the Aspirational Prayer [Calling] to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for Assistance28 and then gives formal introduction to the methods for obstructing the womb entrances during the intermediate state [of rebirth] and for choosing a womb.29 Lastly, he confers the introduction to the methods of transferring [consciousness] to the pure buddha-fields.30 Immediately afterwards, the curtain is suddenly drawn back, and the form of Avalokitesvara is vividly displayed. [The householder Srijata] is led along the path [of virtue] represented by the white carpet, clad in fine robes, and wearing fine ornaments.)
DHARMARAJA {offering praise): O, Child of Buddha Nature, this is how one should serve the purpose of obtaining a human body. Rejoice [in this]! [Then, he recites the following aspirational prayer of Avalokitesvara three times.)
May all sentient beings, including you Srijata,
Be guided on the path by the essence of the Six-syllable Mantra!
May cyclic existence with its three world-systems be churned to its depths,
And may the hells be exhausted and emptied!
{He urges [all to recite] that Six-syllable Mantra.)
THE SPIRITUAL TEACHER: O, Children of Buddha Nature, behold this distinction between the happiness and suffering experienced by the evil ‘Red-handed Butcher’ and the faithful householder Srijata, in consequence of their disparate accumulations of virtue and negativity! As we ourselves shall also encounter such experiences soon, it is most important that we strive after virtue and refrain from negativity! (Then, [the spiritual teacher] should confer the empowerment [of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities], recite the auspicious verses, and perform the aspirational prayer for the dedication of merit, followed by the concluding rite.)
How wonderful! I, Padmakara, having actually seen the hells, composed this [masked drama] as an adjunct to the teaching of the [Great] Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States, in order to benefit sentient beings of the future. May it be encountered by those who are fortunate!
This concludes the Natural Liberation of the Intermediate State of Rebirth: A Teaching Revealing the Natural Expression of Virtue and Negativity.32 May all be auspicious!33

Supplement to the Masked Drama of Rebirth
Herein is contained the Supplement to the Teaching Revealing the Natural Expression of Virtue and Negativity in the Intermediate State of Rebirth, entitled Gong of Divine Melody;1 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 Samantabhadra and the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities!
(In the context of [the masked drama entitled] A Teaching Revealing the Natural Expression of Virtue and Negativity which is [associated with the] Introduction to the Intermediate State of Rebirth, the one called ‘the wrongdoing Laksandraka’ (‘hundred thousand hells’) is shown entering the inferior realms. Amidst the thunderous cries of ‘Strike!’ and ‘Kill!’ uttered by the executors of Yama’s rites, he travels the black path, after which Dharmaraja teaches on the disadvantages of committing negative actions to the entire audience assembled there.3 Following this, the deity representing the good conscience [should appear] in a state of sadness, and should urge [the audience to recite] the Six-syllable Mantra.)
THE DEITY REPRESENTING THE GOOD CONSCIENCE: Please recite the Six-syllable Mantra once on behalf of the deceased, the wrongdoing Laksanaraka! om mani padme hum hruh! Please recite the Six-syllable Mantra once on behalf of all beings present within the intermediate state [of rebirth]! (Then speaking to the assembled audience) O listen! I am the one called deity of good conscience. This wrongdoing Laksanaraka has committed many negative actions, as a result of which, at this moment, in the whole world, I can only find six tiny white pebbles representing his virtuous actions, but there are innumerable pebbles [here] representing his non-virtuous past actions. [Now], by the power of his bad past actions, he has been led away to the hells by the executors of Yama’s rites. Although I wanted to guide him to higher rebirths, I have been unable to find a way [to help him].
All of you who inhabit the human world of Jambudvlpa, and all of you gathered here, should not now engage in negative actions but practise only virtue. These following messages are the ones which we [now] send to you [from the intermediate state of rebirth]! (Then, circumambulating the mandala,4 and chanting the Six-syllable Mantra in a melodious voice, he continues with a sad demeanour.)
How wonderful! I pray to gracious Dharmaraja,
Glorious embodiment of the activities of the buddhas of the
three times,
Who manifests for the benefit of beings! Alas! Listen and be attentive, all you gathered here! [Considering] the difficulties of obtaining a human form, All those who commit non-virtuous and negative acts [while
living in the world] Will have missed the opportunity of escaping from this ocean
of suffering.
All [such] beings living in this world,
Who are [all] powerless to remain [in the world] for long,
Will feel remorse when entering the jaws of the Lord of Death.
But [this remorse] will be of no benefit to them then –
For, despite their sorrows, they will be obliged to move on!
All peoples of the past have gathered family and wealth [around them],
Hoping these would last forever –
But, when [their own] impermanence and death arrive,
They set out alone, devoid of refuge or sanctuary.
The relatives and friends surrounding us in this life
Are like a gathering of shoppers at a market.
Although they seem close to us, they are not dependable.
When the market closes, the shoppers will disperse.
[Likewise,] this illusory aggregate of form,
Like a fallen cairn at the top of a pass,
Will be severed of all its flesh and bones.
This our body is not to be relied on!
Even though we have cherished this body,
[A collection] of pus, blood, serum, and sinews,
It is nonetheless [ever] on the verge of disintegration.
Even though we miss it, birds and dogs will devour it,
Even though we [try to sustain it by] engaging in ritual services,
It will be snatched away by Yama, the lord of death.
This body composed of the four elements will be left behind on the earth,
Our consciousness will travel as a wanderer through the intermediate states,
And the habitual tendencies of our negative past actions will follow like a shadow.
How pitiful that we have committed non-virtuous actions!
The deity and demon representing our good and bad conscience
Will compare the white and black pebbles of past actions,
And Dharmaraja will reveal all in the [all-seeing] mirror.
All great wrongdoers will suffer these torments.
Even though they should not commit even the slightest negative acts,
The human beings of Jambudvlpa are let down by wrongdoing!
It is by engaging in virtue that they will be reborn in the higher realms,
And by engaging in negativity that they will travel to the hells.
At this one time, when one has attained a human body, But failed to return with at least some virtue,
What a pity it is that we carry the [alternative] burden of negativity,
And bring sufferings upon ourselves!
The hunters in the mountains,
The fishermen by the rivers,
And those who kill domestic livestock
Will transmigrate and be reborn in the eighteen hells.
Those who engage in deceit and deception,
Having adulterated measures and weights,
And those who steal, plunder or deceive
Will long roam through the three inferior existences.
Those bound to their wealth by the knot of miserliness,
Those who squander the property of others,
And those who appropriate donations made to the Three Precious Jewels,
Will long roam through the realms of anguished spirits.
This, the impact of non-virtuous past actions
Is like a thunderbolt, it is extremely powerful.
And even though we feel remorse, it will be of no help –
We will not be able to escape!
The punishment for negative actions is exacted by Yama.
In this dangerous passageway, traversed by all,
The executors of Yama’s rites bring us to trial.
Pity those human beings who do not avoid negativity –
For there is no way to help them.
How severe is the attitude of Dharmaraja!
How precise is the accounting of the deity and demon of conscience!
How remorseful are the great wrongdoers!
Only by engaging in virtue, will one proceed to higher rebirths.
Alas! The body ages day by day.
The lifespan is consumed moment by moment.
Dying in turn, one after another,
Sentient beings of this errant degenerate age
Have lifespans shorter than the tail of a sheep!
All householders with many dependants, [such as this wrongdoer],
Will reap the fruits of their evil past actions in so many ways, And even their relatives and friends will [one day] arise as their enemies.
In these bad times, keeping a household [can in itself] engender sorrow
Now, [therefore], having attained a human body,
Endowed with freedom and favourable opportunities,
Direct your thought towards your own mind!
The critical point is to concentrate on the sacred teachings!
Then, you will be happy in this life and joyful in the next.
(Then again, [in the masked drama of rebirth], when the householder Srijdta is shown setting off for the realms of higher rebirth, he prays in the presence of Avalokiteivara, and after [Dharmardja] has finished reciting the aspirational prayer of Avalokiteivara on behalf of Srijdta, the householder is adorned with fine ornaments, and installed upon a throne. Then, before the multitude of the five hosts of ddkinis arrive to welcome him with music and song, at that time, the deity of good conscience should joyfully make the following prayer, telling of the advantages of abandoning negativity and practising virtue.5)
I pray to Samantabhadra and Samantabhadrl,
the Buddha-body of Reality,
Who abide in Akanistha,
the palace of reality’s expanse!
I pray to Vajradhara,
[lord of] the sixth [enlightened family],
Who abides in the Buddha field of the Dense Array.
I pray to the Teacher Vajrasattva,
Who abides in the Buddha field of Abhirati.
I pray to the awareness holder Prahevajra,
Who abides in the mandala of spiralling rainbow lights!6I pray to the learned Sri Simha,
Who abides in the assembly hall of Dhanakosa.
I pray to Padmakara of Oddiyana,
Who abides in the celestial palace of Lotus Light!
I pray to the dakinl Yeshe Tsogyal,
Who abides in the pure palace of the sky-farers!
I pray to the accomplished master Karma Lingpa,
Who abides in the buddha field of the Buddha-body of Emanation!
I pray to his spiritual son Nyinda Choje,
Who abides in the limitless palace of the [sacred] teachings!
I pray to the peerless Suryacandra,
Who abides in the palace where the benefit of living beings is spontaneously accomplished!
I pray to the precious root spiritual teacher,
Seated on a sun and moon cushion above the crown of my head!7
I pray to the infinitude of Peaceful and Wrathful meditational Deities,
Who abide in the mandala of the Conquerors, which is one’s own body!8
I pray to the protectors of the [sacred] teachings Magon Chamdrel,
Who abide in the palace of the transmitted precepts and commitments!
How wonderful!
At this time when we have obtained a human body,
Endowed with freedom and favourable opportunities,
How amazing are our positive virtues!
At this time when our five sense-faculties are intact,
How amazing it is to be attracted by the [sacred] teachings!
At this time when we have encountered the Buddha’s teaching,
How amazing it is to abandon non-virtue and negativity!
At this time when we possess illusory wealth and property,
How wonderful it is to offer these upwards to the Three
Precious Jewels and downwards as charity!
Once we have abandoned negativity, there will be no more
inferior rebirths.
How amazing is this householder Laksmin [Srijata], right here, Who, having practised virtue, has obtained a higher rebirth! How amazing is this householder Srijata, right here, Who is now going [to higher rebirth] in a core-penetrating
Without passing [further] through the intermediate state [of
How amazing is this householder Laksmin [Srljata],
Who has achieved happiness through the fruit of his virtue –
Srljata has reached the highest summit of his life’s potential!
(Thereupon, the hosts of welcoming dakinis, adorned with the six kinds of bone ornaments, begin to dance, playing their ddmarus and bells, and, emerging from behind the door, they come to welcome him, singing om mani padme MOM hrih in a sweet melody.)
We have come from the land of the dakinis.
We have come to invite the householder Srljata!
We have come from Oddiyana.
We have come to invite the householder Srljata!
We have come from Camaradvlpa.
We have come to invite the householder Srljata!
We have come from the Copper-coloured Mountain.
We have come to invite the householder Srljata!
We have come from Mount Potalaka.
We have come to invite the householder Srljata!
We have come from the pure realm of the sky-farers.
O, great householder Srljata,
Please come to the buddha fields!
[The hosts of dakinis encircle the householder, and he too begins to play the musical instruments [that he holds] in his hands and to dance with them. Then he exits together with the host of dakinis.)
This Supplement to the Teaching Revealing the Natural Expression of Virtue and Negativity in the Intermediate State of Rebirth, entitled Gong of Divine Melody, was composed by Namka Chokyi Gyatso on the third day of the ninth month of the sheep year at the retreat of Khariateng, in front of the hermitage of Sangye Rinpoche, a place frequented by frontier tribes. By the power of virtue, may all beings be established on the level of Samantabhadra!