Received Jerry Cornelius' new book Altheia yesterday. First sentence evokes the Bardo. It reads:
"How the mind can torture itself in its quest to understand the travels of the soul from life, through death, to life again."
I find the timing of the book's release interesting as it coincides with my brief abstracts on the same subject that he begins with. I've just started the book. So far, it's first rate.
Saw that a new film called The Tree of Life opened in town today. I had heard about it a few weeks ago but had forgotten about it until now.
Nobody can tell you what will happen when you die. It's possible that the after-life bardo spaces, reported in so many different ways in many different cultures, occur as a result of the unraveling of the subconscious mind in the last minutes or seconds before brain-death.
Even taking the strictly scientific materialist perspective, that nothing happens after life, Bardo Training is of immense benefit. The way Erik Davis puts in Nomad Codes:
"Early in Waking Life, Ethan Hawke quotes Timothy Leary to the effect that, even if nothing of us survives death, the last few minutes of the brain's electrical activity may be experienced by the dying person as an entire life racing in time-lapse -- or, as the film itself suggests, a nearly infinite labyrinth of dreams. From this perspective, the traditional teachings of bardo navigation may come in handy despite the reality of brain-death: even if we are only riding that last wave to flatline, it pays to know how to surf. "
They are referring to a film called Waking Life by Richard Linklater which I haven't yet seen.
So what are the traditional teachings of bardo navigation?
I would guess that it involves the practice of delivering readings shortly before and during the transition of death, and for a period of time afterwards. Of course, there are now many non-traditional methods that encourage bardo navigation, qabalah being one of them, but traditionally it seems that readings have been done in certain cultures, in particular the Tibetan, for hundreds or thousands of years.
One way to experience or at least get a sense of the bardo is by learning how to do the readings. Clear instructions are given in the American Book of the Dead (ABD).
Readings do not necessarily need to come from the ABD. Any text meaningful to you, and/or the Voyager(s) ie the spirit or "soul" of the person(s) recently deceased. "Readings" don't even have to take the form of reading aloud from a text. I wrote a short story once as a "reading." It seems that there are different ways or methods to transmit a particular "something" to a voyager that can help them. The nature of this "something" can, I believe, get discovered more rapidly through Qabalah.
However, since it is a method of Liberation by sound, the easiest way to begin, and be effective immediately, is to start with the ABD. From the editorial description:
This book has been and still remains an important tool for providing a spiritual service to a dying person as opposed to grieving, processing loss, or mourning for that person's passage. Front matter includes "Notes on the Labyrinth" (or the Bardo...) and other commentary by the author that provides insights for an American reader who wishes to provide this guiding service to a family member, spouse, friend, or anyone who is terminal. The reading instructions very clearly outline when and what to read, without any limitation of belief system--the practice is presented as non-denominational, not requiring Buddhist or Christian or Jewish prayers, but also not in conflict with any of these. A schedule of readings shows graphically how to carry out the full series of 49 days of readings, at approximately 10 to 20 minutes per reading.
There is a course available by correspondence and on the internet that gives additional training for readers who wish to pursue the practice of performing "Labyrinth Readings" or "Bardo guiding" as a service to others--beyond one's own family and personal network.
Sometimes music can act as a carrier wave for the readings. I know of a difficult and stubborn woman who had Irish ancestry in her background. Nothing seemed to reach her until traditional Irish music was played with the reading.
News comes of the sudden death of Amy Winehouse, a great loss to the music community. As Keith Richards sings:
It's another good-bye to another good friend...
Playing her music while directing good intentions, best wishes, or prayers ( ie NOT grief, sadness, despair anger, etc) might serve a function similar to doing a reading.
This is the 93rd post of this blog.
Blessings and Peace ...