This was provided by Rinpocheteaching, California in 1980.
First is the bardo of birth and life; second, the bardo of meditation;
third, the bardo of dreaming; fourth, the bardo of death
and dying; ﬁfth, the bardo of the true nature; and sixth, the bardo
These six can be abridged to four: the bardo of birth and life, the bardo of death and dying, the bardo of true nature, and the bardo of becoming. Of these four the bardo of birth and life is most important because right now we all have a precious human birth with the eighteen endowments.
We have available to us teachers who are to a certain degree well qualiﬁed, and the teaching we receive is a wish-fulﬁlling jewel, the very precious teaching of the sutras and tantras. It is rare to have such a precious opportunity. Don’t waste your timewhen you have everything going for you.
First, you should contemplate the signiﬁcance of the four thoughts that can turn the mind from the futility of samsara. Train your mind again and again by returning to that contemplation. Combine this with a deep, heart-felt devotion to the three jewels and the three roots, which are brought into one state in your root teacher who is the embodiment of three kinds of kindness and inseparable from Guru Padmasambhava. What is devotion? It is having joy and appreciation for your opportunities, for the lama and the dharma.
What are these four thoughts? First, think how difﬁcult it is to obtain the freedoms and endowments of the precious human body. Second, consider how life and compounded things are impermanent. Third, recognize the inexorability of karma, of results invariably following from causes. Fourth, observe that none of the three realms of cyclic existence is beyond trouble and suffering. The main point of this contemplation is to reduce attachment and grasping to the activities of samsara.
Then begin the practices of the extraordinary ngondro. Knowing the supreme qualities of the three jewels and thoroughly understanding the difﬁculties of samsara, take refuge with clarity and a profound aspiration to achieve the state of buddhahood beyond samsara.
It is imperative to develop unshakable bodhichitta to beneﬁt all the limitless numbers of sentient beings who have experienced uninterrupted difﬁculties throughout all their lifetimes. Develop unconditional love and compassion to liberate all beings from suffering. Again and again practice “wishing bodhichitta” and “performing bodhichitta” according to your capability, combining it with emptiness meditation.
To achieve the dharmakaya and the rupakayaenlightenment, we must remove the two obscurations, and this can be accomplished by accumulating both merit and wisdom. There are many methods of accumulation, but one that is simple and brings big results is the mandala offering practice. The means to instantly destroy all faults,
downfalls, and obscurations is to meditate on Vajrasattva, who is lord of all the families of deities, and to recite the hundred-syllable mantra, the king of the secret mantras. To remove obscurations and increase merit quickly, the ultimate essence of the vajrayana path is guru yoga combined with meditation on shamatha and vipashana. Whoever follows these practices is making their life more meaningful, and therefore, the bardo of birth and life is more meaningful.
As I said, this bardo of birth and life is so very important. If you can recognize this bardo as nothing more than a dream and a magical display and combine that recognition with uncontrived bodhichitta born from your heart, then you will master this bardo of birth and life. When you master the bardo of birth and life, you will master all the other bardos. And if you achieve that, you will have become a great hero or heroine, not frightened by birth, sickness, old age, and death. Then there will be no need for special instructions concerning the bardo of death and dying.
However, to make sure the bardo of death and dying will be a journey under your control, make sure right now you really understand that the time of death is uncertain, the cause of death is uncertain, and life is impermanent. Because compounded things are not free from the fourendings, they are impermanent. Therefore, the end of gathering is dissipation, the end of building up is falling down, the end of birth is death, and the end coming together is separating.
Therefore regard everything you see in samsara as dreamlike. Your current circle of closest friends is as ﬂeeting as acquaintances bumping into each other at a fair. It’s all one big magic show. It was like that in the past, it’s like that now, and in the future it will be the same. Why be troubled by fear and attachment? It won’t help.
Therefore, think, “I will never be afraid or attached” and keep on thinking it as often as you can in this, your current life. Then make offerings of all your belongings, including your body, to the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions, particularly to Amitabha.
Just as you would plan for a trip, plan for your death, considering how and where you’ll go. Your destination isDewachen; your conveyance is togal, trekcho, and phowapractice; your attitude, without any fear or sadness, is joyful and conﬁdent. Now, when you possess vitality and all your faculties, is the time to practice generosity, giving as much as you can to others, thereby accumulating merit.
If you can’t do this now, how will you do it when death is near? You’ll be sick and your mind scattered. Your feelings of attachment to and worry about your life, loved ones, and possessions will be even more intense when you have no alternative but to leave everything as it currently stands. To avoid that eventuality, prepare now, perform virtuous activities, ensure that you have no fears and regrets.
Now we all have the great fortune to receive these clear light, Dzogchen teachings, and if you practice them with joyful effort and commitment, you can in this very lifetime achieve the level of a vidyadhara. If that level is not attained, then at the very least your mind will be clear, stable, and relaxed at the time of death.
Rehearse your lama’s instructions once more like an actress
glancing at herself in the mirror just before going on stage, then
die with a smile of joy and conﬁdence. With courage born of an
unshakable view allow the dissolving stages to gradually occur,
and you will have the fortunate opportunity to be liberated in the
dharmakaya or thesambhogakaya. Thus, he thoroughly presented the teachings.
From LIGHT OF FEARLESS INDESTRUCTIBLE WISDOM: The Life and Legacy of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche