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This level, in other words, can be thought of as the highest of the subtle or the lowest of the causal, or as the unmanifest dimension of spirit itself. In the next and final stage, however—in stage eight—the white drop continues downward and the red drop continues upward, thus freeing or opening the indestructible drop. Then, it is said, a period of extraordinary clarity and brilliant awareness results, which is experienced like an extremely clear, bright, and radiant sky, free from any type of blemish, any clouds, any obstructions.
This is the clear light. Now, the mind of clear light is said to be not a subtle mind, but a very subtle mind, and it mounts a correspondingly very subtle wind or energy. This is the causal body , or the ultimate spiritual mind and energy, the Dharmakaya. At this point, the eternally indestructible drop sheds the lifetime indestructible drop, all consciousness ceases, and the soul, the eternally indestructible drop, commences the bardo experience, or the intermediate states that will eventually lead to rebirth. The white drop continues downward and appears as a drop of semen on the sexual organ, and the red drop continues upward and appears as a drop of blood at the nostrils.
Death, finally, has occurred, and the body can be disposed of. To do so before this has occurred makes one karmically guilty of murder, because the body is still alive. Matter, or form, dissolved into body or into sensation, then perception, then impulse , and body dissolved into mind, into the gross mind.
The gross mind then dissolved into the subtle mind, or soul realms, and the soul then reverted to causal or spiritual essence. Now, at this point, the process will be reversed, depending on the karma of the soul—on the accumulation of virtue and wisdom that the soul takes with it. Thus, the bardo experience is divided into three basic realms, or stages, and these stages are simply the realms of spirit, then mind, then body and matter.
At the point of actual or final death—which is what we have been calling the eighth stage of the overall dying process—the soul, or the eternally indestructible drop, enters what is called the chikhai bardo, which is nothing other than spirit itself, the Dharmakaya. This is the point where meditation and spiritual work become so important.
Most people, according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, cannot recognize this state for what it is. In Christian terms, they do not know God and thus they do not know when God stares them in the face. In fact, they are at this point one with God, entirely and totally in a supreme identity with Godhead. But unless they recognize this identity, unless they have been contemplatively trained to recognize that state of divine Oneness, they will actually flee from it, driven by their lower desires and karmic propensities. So the soul contracts away from Godhead, from Dharmakaya, away from the causal.
This experience is marked by all sorts of psychic and subtle visions, visions of gods and goddesses, dakas and dakinis, all accompanied by dazzling and almost painfully brilliant lights and illuminations and colors. But again, most people are not used to this state and have no idea about transcendental light and divine illumination, so they actually flee these phenomena and are attracted by the lesser or impure lights that also appear.
Thus, the soul again contracts inwardly, tries to get away from these divine visions, blacks out again, and wakes up in what is called the sidpa bardo, the gross-reflecting realm. Here the soul eventually has a vision of its future parents making love, and—in good old-fashioned Freudian style—if it is going to be a boy it feels desire for the mother and hatred for the father, and if it is going to be a girl it feels hatred for the mother and attraction to the father.
It now has desire, aversion, attachment, hatred, and a gross body : In other words, it is a human being. Further evidence of their reality is found in the fact that they seem to have actual ontological referents in the higher dimensions of the Great Chain of Being. The three experiences just mentioned, for instance, refer respectively to what I have called the psychic, the subtle, and the causal levels of consciousness. In my opinion, then, the levels are real, and thus the experiences of those levels are themselves real.
But this is as it should be. A Buddhist will therefore tend to have a Buddhist experience, a Christian will have a Christian experience, a Hindu will have a Hindu experience, and an atheist will probably be extremely confused. All this is what we should expect.
Hence, the Tibetan explanation of the data is not the only account possible. The most common phenomenon in Western reports of the near-death experience NDE is the experience of passing through a tunnel and then seeing a brilliant light, or meeting a great being of light—a being that has incredible wisdom and intelligence and bliss.
Death, Rebirth, and Meditation – Integral Life
The particular individual religious belief does not matter here; atheists have this experience as often as true believers. This fact, in itself, tends to corroborate the idea that, in the dying process, one does contact some of the subtler dimensions of existence. The point is that, at this point in the death process, the gross mind and body, or the gross winds and energies, have dissolved, and thus the subtler dimensions of mind and energy begin to emerge, which are characterized by brilliant illumination and mental clarity and wisdom. So it is not surprising that people universally, regardless of belief, report the experience of light at this point.
Many people who report NDEs believe that the light they have seen is absolute spirit. If the Tibetan model is accurate, however, then what people see during the NDE is not exactly the highest level.
Beliefs of Hinduism
Beyond white appearance or red increase is black near-attainment, then clear light, then the bardo states. The experience of the subtle-level light is very pleasant—in fact, amazingly blissful. And the next level, the very subtle or causal, is even more so. Indeed, people who have had NDEs report that they have never experienced anything as peaceful, as profound, as blissful. And thereupon commences the bardo ordeal—a real nightmare unless one is very familiar with these states through meditation.
The dying experience and the NDE are actually a lot of fun, in a sense: It is universally reported that, after one gets over the terror of dying, the process is blissful, peaceful, extraordinary. They are just tasting the early stages of the overall process. Nevertheless, their testimony is powerful evidence that this process does in fact occur. It all fits with a fairly remarkable precision. Moreover, it is not possible to explain away their testimony by claiming that all of them have studied Tibetan Buddhism; in fact, most of them have not even heard of it.
But they have essentially similar experiences as the Tibetans because these experiences reflect the universal and cross-cultural reality of the Great Chain of Being. Where does meditation fit into all of this? Every form of meditation is basically a way to transcend the ego, or die to the ego.
In that sense, meditation mimics death—that is, death of the ego. And this is actually experienced as a death. In Zen it is called the Great Death.
But subtly or dramatically, quickly or slowly, the sense of being a separate self dies, or is dissolved, and one finds a prior and higher identity in and as universal spirit. But meditation can also be a rehearsal of actual bodily death. Some meditation systems, particularly the Sikh the Radhasoami saints and the Tantric Hindu and Buddhist , contain very precise meditations that mimic or induce the various stages of the dying process very closely—including stopping the breath, the body becoming cold, the heart slowing and sometimes stopping, and so forth. Actual physical death is then not much of a surprise, and one can then much more easily use the intermediate states of consciousness that appear after death—the bardos—to gain enlightened understanding.
The point of such meditation is to be able to recognize spirit, so that when the body, mind, and soul dissolve during the actual dying process, one will recognize spirit, or Dharmakaya, and abide as that, rather than flee from it and end up back in samsara again, back in the illusion of a separate soul, mind, and body; or to be able, if one does choose to reenter a body, to do so deliberately—that is, as a bodhisattva.
These death-mimicking meditations are not actually life threatening; the body is not really dying, or going through the concrete death stages themselves. But some of the states that can be induced by these meditations are powerful imitations of the real thing. Thus it is a very concrete and very real imitation.
How exactly do the various winds or energies described in Tantra relate to meditation? The central idea of all Tantra, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Gnostic, or Sikh, is that every mental state, or every state of consciousness—in other words, every level in the Great Chain of Being—also has a specific supporting energy, prana, or wind.
We have already examined the Tibetan version of this doctrine. Thus, if one dissolves that particular wind, one will dissolve the mind that is supported by it. But also, since mind rides wind, wherever one puts the mind, its winds tend to gather. So, for example, if a meditator concentrates very intensely on the crown chakra, then wind, or energy, will tend to gather there and then dissolve there. This means that mind, at whatever level, has a measure of control over the winds associated with it.
Hence, by mental training and concentration, one can learn to gather winds or life energies at particular places, then dissolve them there. And that dissolution is said to be the same type of process that occurs at death. So one is actually experiencing, in a very concrete way, what happens when all the various winds dissolve at death-beginning with the gross winds, then continuing as the subtle winds dissolve, leaving the very subtle or causal wind and the mind of clear light that rides it.
This type of practice also gives one the ability to prolong each state, particularly the subtler states, such as those of white appearance, red increase, black near-attainment, and clear light, because one has already more or less mastered them. Then, at the actual final point of death, at what we have been calling the eighth stage—as one enters the chikhai bardo, the Dharmakaya—one can remain there if one chooses.
One might, however, still choose to be reborn in a physical body in order to help others reach this understanding and freedom—just as in a lucid dream one can consciously control what appears. One simply concentrates on that object—visualized as a fiery red drop, the size of a small pea—until one can remain concentrated, with unbroken attention, for thirty or forty minutes or so.
At that point, the energies of the body will be so concentrated in that area that breathing will subside and become very soft, almost imperceptible.
All of the winds or energies of the body are being withdrawn from their ordinary work and concentrated there. Hence, it is very similar to these winds dissolving, or being withdrawn, as occurs in actual death. So if one continues to meditatively concentrate, it is said that one will begin to experience all the signs of the dying process, in order, including the mirage like appearance, the smoke appearance, the fireflies appearance, and the butter-lamp appearance.
At this point, as the winds or energies of the body begin to gather and dissolve at the heart, as in actual death, one will experience the levels of the subtle mind, the mind of white appearance, then red increase, then black near-attainment.
phabagatore.ga In short, this type of meditation is a perfect mimicking of the dying process. And again, the whole point is that by familiarizing oneself with the clear light, by developing meditative wisdom and virtue, then upon actual death, one can remain as the clear light and thus recognize final liberation. This type of mediation is obviously a very intense ordeal, almost gymnastic in its demands. Not all meditation is this exacting, nor is this the only contemplative path that can traverse the entire upper reaches of spiritual development. In the Upper-Left quadrant, depth refers to degree of consciousness, and in the Upper-Right quadrant, it refers to degree of complexity.
However, generally speaking, all four quadrants exhibit depth of increasing complexity. Although most meditative paths are not this demanding, most do in fact follow a similar, general, overall course of unfolding see Transformations of Consciousness. There is the initial rising above the gross ego, experienced as a release from the confines of the separate-self sense and its obsessive sufferings. This initial release—depending on the specifics of the path and the person—might be experienced as a type of cosmic consciousness or nature mysticism , as an initial arousal of kundalini energy beyond the conventional realm, as an awakening of paranormal powers, or as an interior experience of blissful luminosity, to name a common few.
If consciousness continues to move through the subtle and into the causal, all of those experiences continue to intensify, to the point that they are all dissolved or reduced to pure formlessness, to the causal unmanifest, to an Emptiness prior to all form, a Silence prior to all sounds, an Abyss prior to all being, a Godhead prior to God. The soul reverts to spirit and is released into formless infinity, timeless eternity, unmanifest absorption, radiant emptiness. Consciousness resides as the unmoved Witness, the formless mirror mind, impartially reflecting all that arises, utterly indifferent to the play of its own patterns, thoroughly quiet in the face of its own sounds, wholly nonattached to the forms of its own becoming.
And then, in the final mystery, the Witness dies into everything that is witnessed, Emptiness is realized not other than Form, the mirror mind and its reflections are not two, Consciousness awakens as the entire World.