Olympiad of Death: Bardo 1, Part 3

Being a priest and regularly attending to the dying, in particular during my three-year ministry as a hospital chaplain during the ‘90s, certainly gives one a good, first-hand appreciation of the dying process. There have been occurrences when someone passes swiftly, like the after effects of a sudden coronary attack or through being a victim of a tragic accident. But by and large for the majority of people this can be a long drawn-out, painful, and most undignified process. There are divisive forces at work within the individual that prevent a noble passing: Severe Extraordinary Measures that are used which keep even vegetable-like bodies alive for weeks and weeks and even months (extreme cases—even years!) on end; an inability to sever the karmic ties that bind one to this samsaric plane; for some, even radical attacks from deep-rooted psychological baggage that prevents them from leaving this plane of reality in a peaceful manner. I’m reminded of a wife of someone who had passed at home after a long and weary illness, who stated that the expression on her dead husband’s face was one of sheer terror! All of these incidents are very clear indicators and reminders that the Western World just doesn’t deal well at all with death and the dying process. The focus is just to maintain that “here and now” kind of mentality. What matters, above all else, is this material existence—as if it’s some kind of immortal stuff in and of itself. On the contrary, THIS IS ONLY A BARDO EXPERIENCE—A Passing-through time until, hopefully, a Reality above anything anyone can ask or imagine, awaits the Aware-Self.

The Lankavatarian Book of the Dead (like its cousin, the TBOTD) highlights the need for being psychically ready for when the Bardo of Dying and Death approaches. This means, of course, being better-prepared in the prior Bardos, like Bardo One. It emphatically states that the “whole-person” needs to be “inner-awake” and ready…like when the time of “dissolution” arrives—i.e., when the elements constituting personhood (skandhas) begin to break-down…that sequence when the “life-force” begins to leave the body—from earthy-substance, into water (have oftentimes heard “this”, in particular when a nurse suctions-out a dying person) and then into fiery-spirit and final abandonment of consciousness. Bardo One, then, is a training ground—a preparatory school for when the great Olympiad of Death arrives…and this means, being in harmonious conjunction with Body, Mind, and Spirit.

The ancient Daoists (I prefer the spelling with a D because that’s how it’s pronounced) have procured methods that heighten the balanced energy-signatures between Spirit, Mind, and Body. One of these methodologies is known as Primordial Qi (pronounced Chi) Gong (pronounced Kung). Qi is that essential “life-force energy”, that vital, primordial-breath and spark of energy from which all life flows. The phrase—Let there be Life—essentially means let there be Qi! Gong is the method that cultivates this essential circulating agency of life-force energy. So, Qigong works well in conjunction with Primordial Spiritual Methodologies like Unborn Mind Zen—it’s like a hand-in-hand development of the undivided awareness faculty of one’s True Primordial Nature. Speaking from personal experience, I know what it’s like when too much emphasis is placed on Spiritual and Emotional elements of one’s life to the neglect of the Physical and Mental components. The Qi becomes lodged in disharmonious patterns of the inner-meridians (pathways for the Qi to flow) within the human mechanism and illness can result. Balance is essential. Spiritual-Mental-Body equilibrium is vital… TBC

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