Departing from this world is a fact that all living beings have to face one day. If we are not prepared, death can be a confusing and terrifying experience. But if we are prepared, the interim between death and rebirth (bardo) can become a wonderful opportunity for attaining higher rebirth and liberation. The bardo period should be taken seriously, as impermanence causes events to be always unpredictable and death is possible at any given moment.
It is taught that there are six possible ways for attaining liberation in the bardo: through hearing, seeing, tasting, wearing, touching and remembering. We have taken these into account while preparing this extremely rare and precious bardo package (see instructions below). Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche personally consecrated the various items and gave specific instructions on what to do with each item. The package will bring benefit when the moment of death arrives, requiring immediate action. It will enable us to step forward and take control of the death situation without fear or confusion. If we can apply the teachings we have received in this life regarding dying, death and bardo, and also have this package at hand, we will have a much greater opportunity for attaining higher rebirth and liberation. This package is one of the most important items that we can have to prepare for our journey to the next life.
Please read the entire instructions carefully and treat the package with great respect. If you have a shrine room, you should put the package in the shrine or place it on a shelf or table above or near your bed. The best place would be placing the package above your head where you sleep.
Bardo Package Content and Instructions:
Liberation CD (liberation through hearing) If the dying person is religious and doesn't mind listening, you can play the CD to the person. But if the dying person is not open to the concept, then you should not play the CD until they pass away. The CD can be played until the body is cremated. Individuals who wish to listen to the CD can play the CD at all times and it will greatly benefit the listener.
Amrita pill (liberation through tasting) This should be given before the person passes away, approximately 2 to 3 days before death. If the person has already passed away, you should grind the pill and mix it with the Liberating sand to apply on the top center of the deceased head. A list of the contents of the collections of samaya substances Great Liberation through Taste booklet is included in this package.
Liberating sand (liberation through touch) It's best to have a lama or three-year retreatant put the sand on the top center of the deceased's head. But if you can not find a lama, then a family member can place the sand for the deceased. The sand doesn't have to stick or stay on the deceased's head, it just needs to touch the top center of the head. If there is a lama performing Phowa for the deceased, the sand should be applied after completion of Phowa.
The 100 Peaceful and Wrathful Deities Mandala (liberation through touch) comes in two sizes. The large Mandala (Bardo blanket) should be placed on the deceased's body. (Please note: Do not place the Bardo blanket on the person if they are still alive because everyone wants to live until the last moment even if it's just a fraction of a second. We need to be extremely sensitive to the dying individual during this time). After the deceased has passed away, one must make sure the Bardo blanket is placed appropriately on the vital points of the body as indicated in the diagram attached. The Bardo blanket will be buried or cremated with the remains of the deceased.
The small Mandala (liberation through wearing) should be worn on the body at all times.
The most important thing before moving the deceased is to request a lama to perform Phowa and then put the liberating sand on the top center of the deceased's head. One can chant mantras, and recite prayers or practices quietly. One should refrain from crying out loud or making too much noise. A quiet and peaceful setting should be maintained so as not to disturb the deceased. If possible, make sure not to touch the deceased's body at any time other than placing the liberating sand on the top of the head or placing the Bardo blanket on the deceased.
If possible, the body should be left untouched for 4 days and 3 nights. You can start counting from midnight when the deceased passed away up to the fourth morning when the sun has just risen and the temperature starts to warm up.
One thing to remember, due to health regulations, many hospitals will not allow keeping the body for 4 days. You should contact local authorities to find out what regulations are in place for handling the corpse and make the appropriate decisions based on your findings.
For most people the experience after they stop breathing is like fainting and they will loose consciousness. However, after the fourth day, advanced practitioners can awaken in the bardo and by recognizing the clear light, they can become liberated. Some people may be in meditation posture and enter a Samadhi state for one, three or seven days: it varies for each individual.
With Rinpoche's kind blessing due to his tireless effort to benefit beings, we wish to dedicate all the merit from putting together this package, to the full enlightenment of all sentient beings. May sentient beings be greatly benefited by this package and attain higher rebirth and liberation during the bardo period.