Search Ebook here:

How We Live Is How We Die

How We Live Is How We Die PDF

Author: Pema Chodron

Publisher: Shambhala


Publish Date: October 4, 2022

ISBN-10: 161180924X

Pages: 240

File Type: EPub, PDF

Language: English

read download

Book Preface

he Buddha famously advised his students not to buy in to everything he said without first checking it out for themselves. He wanted to promote firsthand experience, not dogma. “Don’t just take my word for it,” he said. “Examine my teachings the way a goldsmith examines gold.” For instance, the Buddha taught that focusing too much on our own self-interest brings us pain and anxiety, and that extending our love and care toward others—even strangers or those who cause us trouble—brings us joy and peace. This is something we can verify through our own experience. We can experiment with this teaching; we can test it as many times as is necessary for us to be convinced.

The teachings presented in this book, however, appear to be in another category. The Tibetan word bardo, which will frequently come up, commonly refers to the passage following our death and preceding our next life. But how can we verify from our own experience what happens after we die? How can we verify that there will be a next life? In these chapters, you will find descriptions of brightly colored lights, of deafening sounds, of hungry ghosts, of peaceful and wrathful deities. How is it possible to examine such teachings the way a goldsmith examines gold?

My intention is not to convince you to buy in to the Tibetan worldview and to see such descriptions as the definitive truth about what happens after you die. To say anything is definitively “like this” or “like that” somehow misses the point. I feel it goes against the spirit of the Buddha’s teachings. At the same time, many discerning people alive today study the bardo teachings and take them seriously—not as an academic subject but as a source of profound wisdom that enhances their lives. It may not be possible for us to confirm these traditional teachings based on our firsthand experience. But whether or not we believe in the Tibetan worldview, if we get to the essence of the bardo teachings, they can benefit us not only after we die, but this year, this day, this moment.

These teachings are based on an ancient Tibetan text called Bardo Tödrol, which was first translated into English as The Tibetan Book of the Dead but which literally means “liberation through hearing in the intermediate [or in-between] state.” Bardo Tödrol is meant to be read to those who have passed away and entered this state. It describes the various experiences the dead person will go through and thus serves as a guide to help them navigate what is thought to be a disorienting journey from this life to the next life. The idea is that hearing the Bardo Tödrol will optimize one’s chances for a peaceful death, a peaceful journey, and a favorable rebirth. In the best-case scenario, one will be liberated altogether from samsara, the painful cycle of birth and death.

The term bardo is usually associated with the intermediate state between lives, but a broader translation of the word is simply “transition” or “gap.” The journey that takes place after our death is one such transition, but when we examine our experience closely, we will find that we are always in transition. During every moment of our lives, something is ending and something else is beginning. This is not an esoteric concept. When we pay attention, it becomes our unmistakable experience.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead lists six bardos: the natural bardo of this life, the bardo of dreaming, the bardo of meditation, the bardo of dying, the bardo of dharmata, and the bardo of becoming.

Right now we are in the natural bardo of this life. As I will continue to emphasize throughout this book, the natural bardo of this life is where our work lies. By coming to understand how this life is a bardo—a state of continual change—we will be ready to face any other bardos that may arise, however unfamiliar.

The bardo of dying begins when we realize we’re going to die and lasts until our final breath. This is followed by the bardo of dharmata, which means “the true nature of phenomena.” Finally, there is the bardo of becoming, during which we make the transition to our next life. In this book, I will talk about these three bardos in detail and also connect them to more familiar experiences that we go through during our lives.

My aspiration for what follows is to write in such a way that you will find these teachings meaningful and helpful, whatever your beliefs. At the same time, I’d like to encourage you to “lean your openness” toward the less familiar aspects of these teachings, as my teacher Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche likes to say. I’ve always found that my greatest personal growth happens when my mind and heart are more curious than doubtful; my hope is that you will take a similar approach to reading this book.

If we can learn to navigate the continual flow of transitions in our present life, we will be prepared for our death and whatever may follow, no matter what worldview we subscribe to. My teachers, beginning with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, have given me many instructions in how to do this. I have learned from experience that applying these bardo teachings has removed much of my fear and anxiety about death. But just as importantly, this training has made me feel more alive, open, and courageous in my day-to-day experience of life. This is why I would like to pass these teachings and their benefits on to you.



1. The Wondrous Flow of Birth and Death

2. Continual Change

3. Passing Memory

4. How We Live Is How We Die

5. When the Appearances of This Life Dissolve: The Bardo of Dying

6. Mingyur Rinpoche’s Story

7. Mother and Child Luminosity

8. What Goes through the Bardos?

9. The Two Truths

10. Propensities

11. Feel What You Feel

12. The First Step to Courage: Refraining

13. The Second Step to Courage: A Positive Take on the Kleshas

14. Two Practices for Transforming the Heart

15. The Third Step to Courage: Emotions as a Path of Awakening

16. Five Flavors of Wisdom

17. Experiencing Things as They Are: The Bardo of Dharmata

18. Opening to the Sacred World

19. From Openness to Concreteness: An Eternal Pattern

20. Entering the Bardo of Becoming

21. Heart Advice

22. The Six Realms

23. Choosing Our Next Birth

24. Helping Others with Death and Dying

25. Waking Up in the Bardo


appendix a—A History of the Bardo Teachings

appendix b—Practices

Basic Sitting Meditation

Meditating with Open Awareness


appendix c—Charts

Stages of Dissolution

The Five Buddha Families

The Six Realms of Samsara

Suggestions for Further Reading



About the Author

Books and Selected Audio by Pema Chödrön

E-mail Sign-Up

Download Ebook Read Now File Type Upload Date
Download here Read Now EPub, PDF October 10, 2022

How to Read and Open File Type for PC ?