The Tibetan term bardo, or “intermediate state,” is not just a reference to the afterlife. It also refers more generally to these moments when gaps appear, interrupting the continuity that we otherwise project onto our lives….we sometimes refer to this as having the rug pulled out from under us, or feeling un-grounded. These interruptions in our normal sense of certainty are what is being referred to by the term bardo.

But to be precise, bardo refers to that state in which we have lost our old reality and it is no longer available to us….In those moments, we lose our grip on the old reality and yet have no sense what a new one might be like. There is no ground, no certainty, and no reference point — there is, in a sense, no rest. This has always been the entry point in our lives for religion, because in that radical state of unreality we need profound reasoning — not just logic, but something beyond logic, something that speaks to us in a timeless, non-conceptual way. Milarepa referred to this disruption as a great marvel, singing from his cave, “The precious pot containing my riches becomes my teacher in the very moment it breaks.”

Pema Khnsdro Rinpoche, Breaking Open in the Bardo 

2 thoughts on “Interruptions

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