The Bardo Thodol, Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State, is a text from a larger corpus of teachings, the Profound Dharma of Self-Liberation through the Intention of the Peaceful and Wrathful Ones, revealed by Karma Lingpa (1326 - 1386). It is the best-known work of Nyingma literature, known in the West as the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
The Bardo Thodol differentiates the intermediate state between lives into three bardos:
1. The chikhai bardo or "bardo of the moment of death", which features the experience of the "clear light of reality", or at least the nearest approximation of which one is spiritually capable;
2. The chonyid bardo or "bardo of the experiencing of reality", which features the experience of visions of various Buddha forms, or the nearest approximations of which one is capable;
3. The sidpa bardo or "bardo of rebirth", which features karmically impelled hallucinations which eventually result in rebirth, typically yab-yum imagery of men and women passionately entwined.
The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State also mentions three other bardos:[note 3]
1. "Life", or ordinary waking consciousness;
2. "Dhyana" (meditation);
3. "Dream", the dream state during normal sleep.
Together these "six bardos" form a classification of states of consciousness into six broad types. Any state of consciousness can form a type of "intermediate state", intermediate between other states of consciousness. Indeed, one can consider any momentary state of consciousness a bardo, since it lies between our past and future existences; it provides us with the opportunity to experience reality, which is always present but obscured by the projections and confusions that are due to our previous unskillful actions.
The Gift Of Mortality