Bardo Thödröl

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Tibetan name
Tibetan script :
བར་ དོ་ ཐོས་ གྲོལ
Wylie transliteration :
bar do thos grol
Pronunciation in IPA :
[ pʰàrtò tʰǿʈʂʰø̀ ]
Official transcription of the PRCh :
Pardo Toizhoi
THDL transcription :
Bardo Thödröl
Other spellings:
Bardo Thodol,
Bardo Thodol,
Bardo Thodrol,
Bardo Todol
Chinese name
Traditional :
《中 有 聞 解》
Simplified :
《中 有 闻 解》
Pinyin :
Zhōng yǒu wén jiě

Bardo Thödröl , also Bardo Thödol ( Tib . : bar do thos grol ; German: “Liberation through hearing in the intermediate state”; also: Tibetan Book of the Dead ) is a Buddhist script from the 8th century, which was discovered in a cave in the 14th century and goes back to the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava . The Bardo Thödröl is one of the few writings that deals with the experiences of the human soul in dying, in the after-death state and in rebirth, and is intended to serve the deceased as a guide through the time of bardo existence between death and rebirth. In addition, the Bardo Thödröl is an instruction how the deceased can recognize the light of redemption with the help of texts read aloud and leave the cycle of rebirths . This “art of dying” is open to everyone and has to be practiced in life by tearing the Mayan veils .

The teachings include descriptions and practices for the bardo of dying (chikhai-bardo), the bardo of dharmata ( chönyi-bardo ) and the subsequent bardo of becoming ( sidpa-bardo ). The Tschönyi-Bardo and the Sidpa-Bardo are the two bardos after death , before the next rebirth in one of the six realms . If the appearances of the bardos after death are not recognized as projections of their own mind, the deceased will either see his future parents in the bardo of becoming and be reborn in a body of their species or be born spontaneously in a realm of gods or hell.

The name Tibetan Book of the Dead is a western reference to the Egyptian Book of the Dead , but is not used in the original texts.

The bardos

The text of the Bardo Thödröl consists of three parts that describe the intermediate states, called Bardos (Tibetan བར་ དོ་ , Wylie-Transliteration bar do , Sanskrit अन्तर्भाव, IAST-Transliteration antarbhāva ):

  1. The first part, called Chikhai-Bardo , describes in detail the physical and psychological events in the process of dying and at the moment of death . The chikhai-bardo ends with the perception of clear light , which according to Buddhist teaching is the ultimate nature of the mind and thus of the universe. In the neurosciences , clear light is also called the void state or white light state .
  2. The second part, called Tschönyi-Bardo , deals with the so-called karmic illusions that occur in this first bardo after death. The essence of the supreme Reality represented by The peaceful and frenzied deities appear as an unfolding mandala . The Tschönyi-Bardo ends with an overwhelming appearance of the previous development of the entire universe and the potential future development possibilities. In near-death experiences , this state occurs as a precognition and a sense of omniscience .
  3. The third part, called Sidpa-Bardo , describes how personal karma (cause and effect) and the deeds of life are recapitulated, and the processes involved in entering one of the six realms of rebirth .

It is important to recognize that the phenomena occurring in the bardos are projections of one's own mind . That is why different individuals perceive the phenomena appearing in the bardos differently to a certain extent . In the Bardo Thödröl the underlying pattern of the phenomena occurring in the bardos after death is described, the actual perceptions ( qualia ) can differ from individual to individual, but are always based on the basic pattern. CG Jung developed a similar concept with the archetypes . For example, the tantric deities appearing in the Chönyi-Bardo can manifest themselves differently in the perception of different individuals to a certain degree, but it is the same deity, the same 'archetype'. The landscape of light , which also appears in Tschönyi-Bardo , is perceived by an individual as an infinite, radiant, ethereal landscape of light with fractal structures reminiscent of flowers , to others it appears as a meadow of flowers .

According to Buddhist teaching, the aim of the practice is to look through the phenomena appearing in the bardos as projections of one's own mind and to recognize their illusory nature. The perception of the phenomena as projections of one's own mind exposes the innermost nature of the mind, which in Tibetan Buddhism is called rigpa or clear light . At the end of the chikhai-bardo , the clear light appears naturally to every living being. According to Tibetan teachings, this point in time of the perception of clear light at the end of the chikhai-bardo is the best opportunity to leave the cycle of rebirths and enter nirvāṇa .

Practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism learn the yoga and meditation techniques for the bardo of dying ( chikhai-bardo ) and the bardos after death ( chönyi-bardo and sidpa-bardo ) in order to be able to call them up again after death.

Practical use

The book is read to the deceased by a lama. The lama reminds him that the visions are projections of his own mind. If the deceased recognizes this in the intermediate state, he can achieve a good rebirth or even complete liberation. The prerequisite is that he must have immersed himself in the described phenomena during his lifetime in order to have already gone through the experience of death in life.


In Tibet there are several variants of the Book of the Dead, of which the Nyingma version became the best known in Europe . This has Evans-Wentz in 1927 first published in English. The translator was Dawa Samdup ( Zla wa bsam 'grub ; 1868-1922), who is referred to in the English edition as Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup. The edition translated from English into German by Louise Göpfert-March in 1935 and published in Switzerland contains a psychological commentary by CG Jung .

See also


Translations of the primary text into German

  • Walter Y. Evans-Wentz / Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup: The Tibetan Book of the Dead or The After-Death Experience on the Bardo Level , With a foreword and a psychological commentary by CG Jung , German by Louise Göpfert-March (first time 1935) . Walter-Verlag, Olten and Freiburg im Breisgau, 1971. ISBN 3-530-99000-0 ; Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf, 2003. ISBN 3-538-07173-X
  • Chögyam Trungpa , Francesca Fremantle (Ed.): The Tibetan Book of the Dead . Hugendubel, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-7205-2311-X
  • Eva K. Dargyay , Gesche Lobsang Dargyay: The Tibetan Book of the Dead , Otto Wilhelm Barth Verlag (im Scherz Verlag), Bern and Munich, 1977
  • Robert Thurman : The Tibetan Book of the Dead (German: Thomas Geist). Fischer Spirit, Frankfurt 2002, ISBN 3-596-15150-3
  • Sogyal Rinpoche : The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying - A Key to a Deeper Understanding of Life and Death . (German: Thomas Geist and Karin Behrendt). OWBarth Verlag, Bern / Munich / Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-502-62580-8
  • Albrecht Frasch: Liberation through hearing in the intermediate state - the so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead . Tashi Verlag, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-9806802-1-5
  • Monika Hauf: The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Newly translated and commented , Piper-Verlag, 2003. ISBN 978-3-492-23694-2
  • Graham Coleman and Thupten Jinpa (Eds.): The Tibetan Death Cup. The great liberation through listening in the intermediate states, introductory commentary by His Holiness the XIV. Dalai Lama , English translation: Gyurme Dorje, from English into German: Stephan Schuhmacher, arkana-Verlag, Munich. 2008. ISBN 978-3-442-33774-3

Translations of the primary text into English

German secondary literature

  • Geshe Rabten : Beyond death . Edition Rabten, Le Mont-Pèlerin 2005, ISBN 3-905497-41-7
  • Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche: The Bardo Book. A guide through life, death and rebirth. Schirner Taschenbuch, 2008, ISBN 3-89767-618-4
  • Bokar Rinpoche: Death and the Art of Dying in Tibetan Buddhism . Kagyü Dharma Verlag, 1992, ISBN 978-3-89233-013-4
  • Chögyam Bernd Westphal: About death and afterwards - The Tibetan teaching of the post-death state . Audiobook, Benjamin von Ammon Verlag, ISBN 3-9810095-6-8

English secondary literature

  • Gyatrul Rinpoche, Allan Wallace: Natural Liberation - Padmasambhava's Teachings on the Six Bardos . Wisdom Publications, Boston 1998, ISBN 0-86171-131-9

Web link

Individual evidence

  1. Walter Evans-Wentz : The Tibetan Book of the Dead or The After-Death Experience on the Bardo Level . Walter Verlag, Olten and Freiburg i. Br., 1987. p. 41