Stuck between here and there, hither and yonder, past and present, lies a limbo, a grey area, a feeling of suspension! It’s a form of Bardo!
The Tibetan word bardo (བར་དོ་ Wylie: bar do) means literally “intermediate state“—also translated as “transitional state” or “in-between state” or “liminal state“. In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva. It is a concept which arose soon after the Buddha’s passing, with a number of earlier Buddhist groups accepting the existence of such an intermediate state, while other schools rejected it.
Used loosely, the term “bardo” refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one’s next birth, when one’s consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable, and then proceeding to terrifying hallucinations that arise from the impulses of one’s previous unskillful actions. For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality, while for others it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth.
The term bardo can also be used metaphorically to describe times when our usual way of life becomes suspended, as, for example, during a period of illness or during a meditation retreat. Such times can prove fruitful for spiritual progress because external constraints diminish. However, they can also present challenges because our less skillful impulses may come to the foreground, just as in the sidpa bardo ~C/O Wikipedia
Now aside from the extreme definitions of self inflicted hallucinations, the description of ‘Suspension between two places’ or the ‘Ending of one life and the beginning of another’, is most symbolic of where I would like to take you today. All beginning and endings are a form of Bardo. The process of birth is Bardo as is the process of death. Transitioning from one state to another. The experience of life itself with its beginning and end is a grand Bardo. But within it lies many smaller Bardos, childhood, adolescences, relationships, school, and jobs. Within each Bardo is a process that simply can not be skipped no matter how much discomfort we might experience. As there in lies the Ultimate Classroom, in which we attain valuable opportunities to evolve.
This space between two things create the opportunity to evolve and grow into who we need to be to support the next phase, or beginning of our next Bardo, which symbolizes the end of the previous. The length of a Bardo is relative to what you need to learn in each one, free will allows you to fully embrace or resist these golden nugget opportunities to grow. Not all Bardos are uncomfortable, some are quite the opposite, joyful in fact, while others not even noticeable. Some are filled with chaos and action, others peaceful and gentle. How we react to these Bardos is up to us, resistance however is futile! You see some might be of choice, we make choices every day to go from here to there, change jobs move houses. Some however might be forced on you by unseen forces. Others a combination of both, set in motion by your previous actions that cause a reactionary Bardo. No matter how we create the Bardo, they are inevitable. The grace and ease, or lack of, we display during these times will dictate our feelings towards the shift. Resistance and fear will cause anxiety, anger, even frustration, even slowing the process and prolonging the agony. If through free will we choose to avoid the lessons or we are blind to the lessons through chaotic thinking, we can cause a extension of the Bardo. Creating a feeling of being lost, stuck and perpetuating the frustration and stress. Acceptance, calm, peaceful allowance will create a more pleasant experience even in the most stressful of Bardos.
In most cases as we reflect on our past Bardos we might shake our heads and recognize after the 20/20 vision we could have had to embrace each shift was necessary and positive, that we survived it and even became stronger, wiser. When perhaps fear had trapped us in a state of panic through it initially. Moving through these moments that support our evolutionary process in a more accepting and peaceful manner will allow the transition to happen faster as well, limiting casualties, yours and others substantially. Recognizing, but not identifying with any fearful emotions as an observer through the Bardo, allows for this to happen as it is through extracting the lessons gratefully that expedites and limits the discomfort if any.
The beginning of a Bardo symbolizes each lesson phase, the end of the Bardo is the exam, what have we learned, what skills have we attained, what knowledge will support the next lesson in our tool kits! This represents a most over looked and undervalued step in our culture, Initiation, to the next Bardo, or lesson phase of your life. This celebration is rarely exercised and a sadly missed opportunity to embrace our successes. I have the honor of walking along side many students who choose to begin a Bardo of self awareness, healing and empowerment. Their choice of commencement on this journey, I respect and honor, as it takes great courage and bravery to look authentically at ones life. To pull out every event, emotion, memory and program that has shaped their stories they so strongly identify with.
Once all has been strewn across the proverbial floor for analysis, left vulnerable and bare I get to hold their hand as they painstakingly, search for only that which is reflective of their true spirit to be carefully and lovingly returned to its rightful place. To bare witness in the rewriting of their story to one of optimal strength and unwavering unconditional love for themselves and others. To watch them stand in their ultimate power and create the story in which they honor their passions, purpose and gifts they were meant to share with the world. Their gifts that they had previously neglected and ignored out of fear based insecurities that were falsely implanted in old stories from past experiences that no longer serve them. Now with nothing holding them back they live by example, giving permission to others to do the same and unabashedly glow brightly their light so that others may feel safe to shine theirs.
Thank you to all of my Holistic Life Coaching, Energy Psychology students and anyone who has private sessions with me, for allowing me to be your witness to your chosen Bardo and subsequent, Initiation to your new life!