I am dreaming and I observe the six bardos floating in space. The six bardos, or “in-between” states are: this life, dreaming, meditation, death, the luminous space between death and rebirth, and birth. In the dream, each bardo is missing something—like a puzzle with a missing piece. I awaken to this life and enter meditation, open to discerning what is absent. It seems obvious the Dharma fills the void, but I begin to have a sense of presence and see my mom who recently passed away.
I awaken from the dream and remember mom is three quarters of the way through the traditional 49 days of prayer for the dead in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. These 49 days hearken from the time between Buddha’s awakening and when he began to teach. This period is also the time designated to help a transmigrating being negotiate the challenges of letting go of karmic patterns. Prayers and practices designed to assist a person are written in the Bardö Thödol, or Book of the Dead.
Most of these practices are meant to help a person in the bardo between death and rebirth attain complete liberation or, at the very least, have an auspicious rebirth. I am feeling mom’s presence and I think she may be on the verge of being reborn. The missing piece might be remembering what obscured her capacity to love in this life and some confusion about choosing a good a birth. I pray for her and all beings—that they may have the clarity to enter fortunate circumstances and continue the journey toward liberation.
We are all floating in the bardo carrying the illusion we have a missing piece. This life is none other than the urge to discover what seems incomplete. Every moment is an opportunity to recall the love we have held back—to be reborn with greater clarity. If we wake up in the dream of the “in between” and hear the call to compassion, the light of awareness chases away all shadows. We no longer hide from love and recognize nothing has ever been missing.