My mother spends most of her time sleeping now as she lives her final moments. Sometimes she is so deep in the bardo of sleep she is difficult to arouse. When she momentarily awakens, I ask her, “Where do you go when you are sleeping?” She replies, “Lessons.”  I am not sure I hear her correctly and ask again. And again she replies, “Lessons.” 

I wonder if she is remembering a time in her life when she was listening to a teacher in school. But I always see things symbolically. The bardo of sleep and dream is indeed a place for lessons. The primary lesson. When we go to sleep and drop down to the deepest state, there is a point where it is possible to recognize the luminous clarity of our true nature. But, because of all the unliberated traces (unresolved issues) in our mind, we do not recognize the luminosity and rise back up in our dreams.

I wonder if mom is recognizing clarity or seeing her wisdom cloaked in dreams. I pray this is so. All I can do is remain present to her—whispering loving kindness into her dreams. Our tradition offers so many skillful means to accomplish this. May the energy of my mantras and prayers become mingled in one taste with her mind and help liberate obscuring traces. May she die at peace.

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