The notion of a continuum of consciousness that goes from one lifetime to the next is extremely important in Buddhism and serves as the basis for the ideas of karma and rebirth. Transmigrating from one lifetime to the next is done in stages – death, Bardo (the intermediate state between death and rebirth) and rebirth. One may be reborn in fortunate states (as human or celestial beings) or in unfortunate states (as an animal, preta being or hell being). Rebirth as humans is considered to be very precious – even though one is still in Samsara one has the ability to transform one’s mind and to act in a way that would help one in this and future lives, and eventually lead one to liberation and enlightenment.
The actions (karma) we do – positive, negative or neutral, leave imprints on our mental continuum. When the right causes and conditions come together, imprints are ripened and we experience the result – positive, negative or neutral, in correlation with the action done. According to Buddhism, the mind exists from beginningless time, which means that the continuum of consciousness began before this lifetime and will continue after this life. So we have countless imprints in our minds, residues of the actions we have accumulated during innumerable lifetimes.
The state of our mind at the time of death determines which imprint will ripen and thus throwing us to the next rebirth. A positive state of mind causes the ripening of an imprint of positive action, so we will be born in a fortunate state; a negative state of mind will bring ripening of an imprint of negative action, so we will be born in an unfortunate state. Hence it is extremely important to avoid harming others, to do positive actions as much as possible, to try to reduce and eliminate afflictions and to develop and strengthen positive states of mind, so we would be able to improve our chances to be reborn in a fortunate existence.
It is also important to understand the process of transmigrating from this life to the next, and what happens in the Bardo, so we would be able to be prepared for what awaits us after death – since death is not a pessimistic final ending of life, but an optimistic opportunity to end the cycle of suffering existence by using the processes of death, or at least to ensure a good rebirth. In this fascinating online course, Jhado Rinpoche will expound on the intermediate state – what are the death processes, what is an intermediate state being, what happens in this state in between death and rebirth, and where we may be born.
For the live stream of the teaching please join us on Zoom or visit our Facebook Page. For those of you that can not make it live, we will be recordings on our Youtube channel.