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Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

What exactly are the “Bardos” that are described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead? It may be a difficult concept to fully get your head around if you’re not already familiar with the traditions and beliefs of Tibetan Buddhism.

But not to worry. As you can probably guess, we know a thing or two about the Bardos (being a company named BardoVR, after all).

What is a Bardo?

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Photo by Pretty Drugthings on Unsplash

There are few experiences quite as mind-boggling than that of the DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine) breakthrough. For those who may be unfamiliar, a ‘breakthrough’ is defined as a complete out-of-body experience following the consumption of a sufficiently large dosage of the psychedelic compound.

While the individual experiences can vary from person-to-person, there is a general consensus regarding the phenomenology of a DMT breakthrough experience. Under high doses, it literally feels as though you have lost touch with your physical body and break into another dimension or space. …

Does the name sound familiar to you?

This ancient Tibetan Buddhist text has fascinated the West since it was first translated into English in the 1920s.

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The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or as it is known in Tibet, Bardo Thödol, “Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State,” is a Tibetan Buddhist text that serves as a guide for the recently deceased as their consciousness travels from their body into the Bardos, or intermediate states, of the afterlife.

But what is a Bardo?

Well, a Bardo is a transitional, or an in-between, state of consciousness that one experiences within the process of life, death, and rebirth. The state of consciousness you are experiencing now is considered a Bardo, called the Kyenay Bardo, the Bardo of life. When you lay your head down to sleep at night and enter a world of dreams, you have entered the Milam Bardo. According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, after you die, your consciousness will leave your body, and you shall start your journey of death and rebirth, which is said to last 49 days. …

I have been kicking this image around in my head for some time now.

Imagine you are at a party. It’s loud. It’s bumping. There are people everywhere all talking full volume. All talking over one another.

Everyone wants to be heard so they are all yelling louder and louder. The cacophony is stacked up upon itself, and in the end, nobody can hear anything.

You get a little overwhelmed with it all. Enough is enough, and you decide you need some air and a little bit of quiet.

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Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum

You go out on the porch, light up a cigarette, and just take in the silence of the night. You can still hear the muffled sounds of the party, obviously, yet the relative quiet relieves your overwhelmed feelings. It gives you some clarity, and you can relax for a little bit before returning to the chaos. …

Ponder for a moment a familiar scene: A pie-in-the-sky young adult responding to the question of “what do you want to do with your life?” with idealistic and lofty ambitions while their anxious parents plead with them to be more pragmatic. Just how do you get a dreamer to set and achieve powerful goals that are still pragmatic?

Maybe you were once that young dreamer or that practical parent who worries for their ambitious children’s disillusionment with the world. People are often on one side of the idealistic/pragmatic spectrum. …

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“Young Sick Bacchus” by Caravaggio. 1593

To my dearest friend,

I have been doing much thinking as of late, especially concerning the state our people find themselves in. This century has certainly found its footing with haste. Darkness is in harvest, and for some time now I have sensed despair creeping into the hearts of our beloved. Nihilism, in its corrosive spectacle, is laying waste to all perceptions of Truth. Our people are intoxicated by their alienation, their madness finally reaching a fever pitch. It may pain you to think so, but the end times may, in fact, be upon us, old friend. …

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Cover photo from Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Given the imminent climate catastrophe outlined in the latest Special Report on Climate Change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the drastic global action it calls for to avert disaster, and the sheer lack of precedent for such a threat to our survival, it is safe to say that humanity has entered a new period in its history. An epoch in which human beings are living with the knowledge that they are occupying a dying planet. No such human has ever had to live with this kind of knowledge. We are the absolute first. This period could very well be the epilogue of human history. The last few pages of our journey. Or perhaps not. Perhaps we can survive, and “that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” …


Anthony Pellegrino

I’m a rather bohemian freelance journalist and tech content writer. Philosophy/CS student - A.I. & Consciousness.

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