Bardo:
Second Day

Listen without distraction. On the second day, a white light, the purified element of water, will shine, and at the same time Blessed Vajrasattva-Aksobhya will appear before you from the blue eastern Realm of Complete Joy. His body is blue in color, he holds a five-pointed vajra in his hand and sits on an elephant throne, embracing his consort Buddha-Locana. He is accompanied by the two male bodhisattvas Ksitigarbha and Maitreya and the two female bodhisattvas Lasya and Puspa, so that six buddha forms appear.

The white light of the skandha of form in its basic purity, the mirror-like wisdom, dazzling white, luminous and clear, will come towards you from the heart of Vajarsattva and his consort and pierce you so that your eyes cannot bear to look at it. At the same time, together with the wisdom light, the soft smoky light of hell-beings will also come towards you and pierce you. At that time, under the influence of aggression, you will be terrified and escape from the brilliant white light, but you will feel an emotion of pleasure towards the soft smoky light of the hell-beings. At that moment do not be afraid of the sharp, brilliant, luminous and clear white light, but recognize it as wisdom. Be drawn to it with faith and longing, and supplicate it, thinking, "It is the light-ray of Blessed Vajrasattva's compassion, I take refuge in it." It is Blessed Vajrasattva coming to invite you in the terrors of the bardo; it is the light-ray hook of Vajrasattva's compassion, so feel longing for it.

Do not take pleasure in the soft smoky light of the hell-beings. This is the inviting path of your neurotic veils, accumulated by violent aggression. If you are attracted to it you will fall down into hell, and sink into the muddy swamp of unbearable suffering from which there is never any escape. It is an obstacle blocking the path of liberation, so do not look at it, but give up aggression. Do not be attracted to it, do not yearn for it. Feel longing for the luminous, brilliant, white light, and say this inspiration-prayer with intense concentration on Blessed Vajrasattva:

When through intense aggression I wander in samsara,
on the luminous light-path of the mirror-like wisdom,
may Blessed Vajrasattva go before me,
his consort Buddha-Locana behind me;
help me to cross the bardo's dangerous pathway
and bring me to the perfect buddha state.
(pp. 43-44)


colorwhite light
directioneast
elementwater
BuddhaAksobhya
familyvajra
realmRealm of Complete Joy
skandhaform
wisdommirror-like wisdom - feeling
poisonaggression
temptationsoft smoky light of the hell-beings

The second tathagata is Aksobhya, in the eastern side of the mandala, which, following Indian tradition, is placed at the bottom. In other texts Aksobhya may appear at the centre, with Vairocana in the east, so there is often some alteration of their attributes; this is why both white and blue colours appear on the first and second days and why there is sometimes an apparent confusion in the mandala pattern. Aksobhya is the ruler of the vajra family, whose poison is aggression or hatred. This is transmuted into the mirror-like wisdom, which reflects everything calmly and uncritically. (p. xviii)


Transcending the water element, the white light begins to dawn, and in the east, the Realm of Complete Joy, the tathagata Vajrasattva or Aksobhya appears.

Aksobhya means immovable, and Vajrasattva means vajra being; they both indicate toughness, solidness. In Indian mythology vajra is the most precious jewel, or the thunderbolt, which destroys all other weapons and jewels, which can cut diamond. There was a certain sage who meditated on Mount Meru for centuries, and when he died his bones were transformed into vajra, and Indra, the king of the gods, discovered this and made his weapon out of it, a vajra with a hundred points. The vajra has three qualities: it can never be used frivolously, it always fulfils its function of destroying the enemy, and it always returns into your hand. It is indestructible, adamantine.

The tathagata Vajrasattva-Aksobhya is holding a five-pointed vajra,—this absolutely solid object, and he is sitting on an elephant throne,—what could be more solid than that? His consort is Buddha-Locana, the Buddha Eye. In the Buddhist tradition there are five types of eyes: the bodily eye, the Buddha eye, the wisdom eye, the heavenly eye and the dharma eye. In this case the buddha eye refers to awakening. You may have a very solid, stable situation, but if you have no outlet it can stagnate. The feminine principle automatically opens out, she provides the exit or activation of the whole thing, the element of communication from solidness into a flowing, living situation.

He is accompanied by the bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, the Essence of Earth, who represents any kind of fertility and growth, also an expression of that particular Buddha. And he is also accompanied by Maitreya, the Loving One. That firmness, solid and fertile at the same time, needs emotion as well in order to give life to the solidity; it is the emotional, compassionate quality of love, not necessarily selfless compassion.

Then there are the female bodhisattvas: Lasya is the bodhisattva of dance or mudra, she is more performer than dancer, the offering goddess who displays the beauty and dignity of the body; she shows the majesty and seductiveness of the feminine principle. And Puspa is the goddess of flowers, the bodhisattva of vision, sight, the scenery.

Transcending the skandha of form, are mirror-like rays, white and glittering, clear and precise, which shine from the heart of Vajrasattva and his consort. Along with that there is the light of hell, grey light without brilliance. When the person perceives such a display of the vajra quality it seems too complicated to work with, so there is a possibility of simplifying it into the grey light, associated with hell or a fundamental notion of paranoia which is always connected with the intellectual vajra quality. In order to have intellectual understanding you have to see what is wrong with everything rather than what is right; that is the natural vajra intellectual quality, the critical attitude of the logical mind, which also brings solidity. If you have an understanding of something founded on the logic of a critical attitude, then your wisdom is based on extremely solid and definite ground; it is unshakeable. But the other aspect of it is the realm of hell, when the critical attitude does not relate to solidity or basic sanity of any kind, but sets off a chain reaction, an alarm clock so to speak, of paranoia. (pp. 17-18)


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Last modified on February 7, 2005 by Kay Keys (kay@kaykeys.net)