First Day

After being unconscious for four and a half days you will move on, and awakening from your faint you will wonder what has happened to you, so recognize it as the bardo state. At that time, samsara is reversed, and everything you see appears as lights and images.

The whole of space will shine with a blue light, and Blessed Vairocana will appear before you from the central Realm, All pervading Circle. His body is white in color, he sits on a lion throne, holding an eight-spoked wheel in his hand and embracing his consort the Queen of Vajra Space. The blue light of the skandha of consciousness in its basic purity, the wisdom of the dharmadhatu, luminous, clear, sharp and brilliant, will come towards you from the heart of Vairocana and his consort, and pierce you so that your eyes cannot bear it. At the same time, together with it, the soft white light of the gods will also come towards you and pierce you. At that time, under the influence of bad karma, you will be terrified and escape from the wisdom of the dharmadhatu with its bright blue light, but you will feel an emotion of pleasure towards the soft white light of the gods. At that moment do not be frightened or bewildered by the luminous, brilliant, very sharp and clear blue light of supreme wisdom, for it is the light-ray of the buddha, which is called the wisdom of the dharmadhatu. Be drawn to it with faith and devotion, and supplicate it, thinking "It is the light-ray of Blessed Vairocana's compassion, I take refuge in it." It is Blessed Vairocana coming to invite you in the dangerous pathway of the bardo; it is the light-ray of Vairocana's compassion.

Do not take pleasure in the soft white light of the gods, do not be attracted to it or yearn for it. If you are attracted to it you will wander into the realm of the gods and circle among the six kinds of existence. It is an obstacle blocking the path of liberation, so do not look at it, but feel longing for the bright blue light, and repeat this inspiration-prayer after me with intense concentration on Blessed Vairocana:

When through intense ignorance I wander in samsara,
on the luminous light-path of the dharmadhatu wisdom,
may Blessed Vairocana go before me,
his consort the Queen of Vajra Space behind me;
help me to cross the bardo's dangerous pathway
and bring me to the perfect buddha state.
(pp. 41-42)

colorblue light
realmCentral Realm
wisdomconsciousness - form
temptationsoft white light of the gods

The first of the tathagatas, placed in the centre of the mandala, is Vairocana. He represents the basic poison of confusion, or ignorance which deliberately ignores, out of which all the others evolve. But he is also the wisdom of the dharmadhatu--the limitless, all-pervading space in which everything exists as it really is. This is the reversal of ignorance. Since he is the original and central figure, his family is simply known as the tathagata or Buddha family, names which again represent the opposite of ignorance. (p. xviii)

It says in this book that having woken up, after four days of unconsciousness, into the luminosity there is a sudden understanding that this is the bardo state, and at that very moment the reverse of samsaric experience occurs. This is the perception of light and images, which are the reverse of body or form; instead of being a tangible situation of form it is an intangible state of quality.

Then you get the dazzling light, which is a link of communication between body and intelligence. Although one is absorbed into the state of luminosity, there is still some intelligence operating, sharp and precise, with a dazzling quality. So the psychophysical body and also the intelligence, the intellectual mind, are transformed into space.

In this case the colour of space is blue, and the vision that appears is Vairocana. Vairocana is described as the Buddha who has no back and front; he is panoramic vision, all-pervading with no centralised notion. So Vairocana is often personified as a meditating figure with four faces, simultaneously perceiving all directions. He is white in colour, because that perception does not need any other tinge, it is just the primordial colour, white. He is holding a wheel with eight spokes, which represents transcending the concepts of direction and time. The whole symbolism of Vairocana is the decentralised notion of panoramic vision; both centre and fringe are everywhere. It is complete openness of consciousness, transcending the skandha of consciousness.

Along with that there is a vision of the realm of the gods. The depth of the blue is terrifying because there is no centre to hold on to, but the glimpse of the white light is like seeing a lamp burning in darkness, and one tends to walk towards it.

The realm of the gods also happens in our daily life experiences. Whenever we are absorbed in a spiritual state, a trance-like state of joy and pleasure, involved in our own self and its projections, whenever that joy comes there is also the possibility of its opposite, the centreless, all-pervading quality of Vairocana. It is extremely irritating, not at all attractive....

This experience comes from aggression, because aggression holds us back and keeps us away from seeing Vairocana. Aggression is a definite, solid thing; when we are in a state of complete anger it is like imagining ourselves to be a porcupine, putting out everything possible to protect ourselves. There is no room for panoramic vision; we do not want to have four faces at all, we hardly even want to have one eye. It is very centralized and completely introverted, that is why anger might make us run away from the expansive quality of Vairocana. (pp. 15-16)

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Last modified on February 7, 2005 by Kay Keys (