- Teachings inspired by the Bardo Thodol; what I call Bardo training.
As previously mentioned, I've been researching the area of Death for about 30 years now. It began with the discovery in "Jung's Collected Works" that the death/rebirth archetype made an excellent blueprint for reprogramming the brain and nervous system. Intelligence increase seems a side effect from this strategy. The Death archetype got further imprinted into this impressionable young mindset from reading "High Priest," Timothy Leary's classic, biographical, journalistic account of brain change both personal and historical. The book that really drove home the effectiveness of this technique is one I might have mentioned once or twice before, Cosmic Trigger Vol. I.
My researches naturally lead to the science of liberation through sound, aka the Bardo Thodol; working with Death in its literal sense.
Surviving death relies upon the axiom that some aspect of our individuality has the capability, or potential for developing the capability to live beyond the death of the body and brain. You don't have to "know" for sure, or have complete faith to at least stay open to the possibility that it could happen. Complete denial of this kind of life extension would likely dampen efforts at bardo training. The opposite, complete, unquestioning belief in the form of blind faith in an afterlife of some kind would appear equally a hindrance - why bother to do anything about death if what's going to happen is a given?
It appears completely a matter of personal experience as to how one views the possibility of surviving death. Yes, you can point to much convincing evidence that indicates crossover contact - Aldous Huxley giving a convincing sign to his wife Laura after he died is the classic example given in Cosmic Trigger.
We have countless accounts of Near Death Experiences from people who have apparently witnessed some form of life after death.
Cultures around the world, independently of one another, have developed myth based technologies, Books of the Dead, for helping the bardo voyager survive and respond to the transition of death. These include the Tibetan, Egyptian, Mayan, Aztec, and Hopi Indian. The Tibetan Book of the Dead translates to English as 'Liberation by Hearing'. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is based on a body of ancient texts that collectively translates as 'Manifestation in the Light' or 'Coming Forth By Day. '
In recent times we see Burroughs' version of the Egyptian death technology in his book The Western Lands which morphed into musical form on Seven Souls by Material, envisioned and produced by Bill Laswell. Whether he knew it or not, Douglass Adams wrote a very educational science fiction Book of the Dead called The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Quite a bit of valuable bardo training data in that one. By far, the most practical work for jumping into it is the American Book of the Dead by E.J. Gold. It's basically the Bardo Thodol put into an American cultural context. It also contains simple, precise instructions for how to begin and how to do it. I also consider Finnegans Wake by Gentleman Jim Joyce and Against the Day by St. Thomas Pynchon as Books of the Dead.
Yes, objections can be made to all the non-scientifically vetted evidence above - it's superstitious nonsense, fantasy, hallucinations near death etc. That's why I say personal experience determines the key factor in how one sees this.
The most easily obtainable personal evidence, in my experience, can be had by doing readings for people immediately after they've left their body or as close to the moment of death as possible. Learning to contact and unmistakeably feeling that contact with a being whose body just died will provide this kind of evidence.
I found it interesting and telling that Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary, both proponents of any and every kind of life extension, turned down the cryogenics option - having their brain and/or body frozen with the hope of getting it reanimated at a later date when issues of mortality had been extended or resolved.
Bardo training proves to be very useful even if it turns out that nothing survives death, that no afterlife exists. Stanislav Grof put it well in his "Books of the Dead - Manuals for Living and Dying:"
The experiential practice of dying, or 'dying before dying,' has two important consequences. It liberates the individual from fear of death and changes his or her attitude toward dying, and so prepares him or her for the experiences at the time of biological demise, and by eliminating the fear of death, it transforms the individual's way of being in the world. For this reason, there is no fundamental difference for the preparation of death by exploration of dying, on the one hand, and spiritual practice leading to enlightenment, on the other. This is the reason why the ancient books of the dead could be used in both situations.
Gurdjieff, in In Search of the Miraculous, talks about a "crystalization, " a fusion of a person's inner qualities that can gain a certain independence from external influence:
If there is anything in a man able to resist external influences, then this very thing itself may be able to resist the death of the physical body.
In this way he relates self-development with surviving death. That quote is from p. 31; on the next page he talks about how to go about getting this crystallization to happen. It's very relevant to this discussion if you have that book available. One of Gurdjieff's heresies taught that humans don't automatically possess a soul, only the potential for making one.
Monty Python also addressed this issue in the Meaning of Life: