Bardo - from Tomb to Womb

In Mahayana Buddhism the Bardo is the intermediate state between lives, when the mind experiences a series of  hallucinations culminating in its next birth.

In contrast, to the western materialist, the state of a 'dead' mind is OFF / Non-Existent / No Activity.  It is the ultimate Quietus -  no experience  whatsoever.

To the Buddhist it is impossible to envisage 'no mind'. The state of a disembodied mind is active, hallucinatory and, depending on its karmic imprints, sometimes nightmarish. 

'To die, to sleep  ...  To sleep, perchance to dream.
Ay there's the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause...'   - 
Hamlet's soliloquy upon contemplating suicide.

Hamlet realised that 'Not to be' is not an option, there is only 'To Be' - in some state or other, pleasant or unpleasant:

The Buddhist agrees with Shakespeare, rather than with the materialists, in believing that mental imprints caused by actions in previous lifetimes (karma) cause phenomenal manifestations.  And those manifestations continue to be experienced as dreams or nightmares throughout the intermediate state from tomb to womb. 


Hell realms
And what's even worse, there may be no awakening or biological rebirth for millions of years. In which case the mind will be left alone to experience the nightmarish results of its karma as a delirium of endless horrific hallucinations that goes on for millenia.

Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all.


Hamlet concludes that suicide is not a path out of Samsara

To be,  or not to be ... that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take up arms against a sea of troubles - and by opposing them end them?
To die... To sleep... no more...
And by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to..
Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!  

To die...   To sleep...
To sleep?  Perchance to dream!
Ay there's the rub!  For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause...

There's the respect that makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, the oppressors wrong, the proud man's contumely?
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay?
The insolence of office,
And the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make - with a bare bodkin?

Who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death, 
The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns,
Puzzles the will, and makes us bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others we known not of?

Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.



If we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking religious faith?



Buddhism in Everyday Life
The Daily Meditation