Friday, June 3, 2011

Bardo of Meditation

Meditation is a state of consciousness marked by an openness and a clarity of mind far different from anything we experience in our ordinary state of consciousness. This non-ordinary state is only found in the gaps between the thoughts and emotions that flood our mind almost continuously.

The intermediate period between thoughts and emotions provide a brief reprieve from stress and anxiety and offer a glimpse of the bliss to be found in the boundless state of just being. In the vajrayana traditions of India and Tibet, this intermediate period is known as the bardo of meditation.

A passage from the Tibetan Book of the Dead tells us...

Now when the bardo of meditation dawns upon me,
I will abandon the crowd of distractions and confusions,
Rest in the boundless state without grasping or disturbance,
And gain stability in creation and completion.

Creation and completion are two terms with specific meanings for vajrayana meditation. A simplistic explanation is that creation is the deliberate repetition of techniques that lead to mastering a new skill. Eventually we develop an adeptness that becomes an automatic ability, easily drawn upon whenever desired--the state of completion. Learning to ride a bicycle is a good example of the process.

To learn to ride means paying attention to all the details--pedaling to keep the bike moving; turning the handlebars to stay on the path; moving the body back and forth to maintain balance. But when we have mastered the bicycle, we can enjoy the ride without great effort. We can focus on the wind in our hair and the cooling breeze on our face without worrying about ending up in the ditch.

The same concepts apply to meditation. In the beginning, we pay great attention to breathing, to posture, to remaining awake to the enchanting stories of our thoughts. But when we have mastered entering the bardo of meditation, we can abandon the crowd of distractions and confusion and rest in a boundless state of bliss, experiencing life exactly as it is, one eternal moment at a time.