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Tibetan Book of the Dead - Achieving Buddhahood - Part 1



Type of spiritual experience


Hidden amongst some advice on how to cope with actual death, are a series of exercises that explain how to achieve both ecstasy and moksha nirvana.  The explanation comes in the form of a description of both the techniques and their effects and this first observation describes the exercises that are used in the build up.  The method employs a combination of visualisation exercises plus stimulation via trigger points


A description of the experience


The body should be upright and erect. The hands should cover the knees, forming the earth-touching gesture, and the shoulders should be drawn upwards. Then, in one's own heart one should visualise an azure blue syllable HUM, blazing with light, from which a single syllable HUM breaks away and descends to the rectum, precisely blocking the orifice through which the hells are entered. Another syllable HUM breaks away and descends to the orifice of procreation, thereby blocking the entrance to [the realm of the anguished spirits. Similarly, another syllable HUM [breaks away and] blocks the entrance [to the world of animals, which is in the urethra, while yet another syllable HUM moves to the navel, and others to the mouth, the nostrils, the eyes, and the ears, each one precisely blocking its respective orifice.

Then, on the crown of the head, one should visualise that the crown fontanelle is blocked by a downward-facing white syllable HAM.

Further, one should visualise the central channel, in the middle of the body, straight and erect, with a yellowish white lustre, like a taut air-filled sheep's intestine, with its lower extremity extending below the navel, and its upper extremity extending to the crown fontanelle. At the lower extremity below the navel, at a focal point where the three [main] channels converge,' one should visualise a brilliant white seminal point, which is the essence of awareness, radiant and clear, breathing rhythmically, continuously pulsating, and on the verge of ascending.

In the space above the crown of the head, one should visualise one's spiritual teacher, seated, full of joy, in the form of Yajradhara. Then, one's bodily weight should be [drawn in and] concentrated upwards, and the rectum forcefully closed. The eyes should be turned upwards, the tongue [lifted to] rest along the upper palate, and the hands firmly placed in the 'fist' gesture, with the thumbs pressing down on the bases of the fourth fingers.

[Then], from below the navel, the seminal point is moved force-fully upwards, and, through the engagement of speech, it is elevated with the support of guttural gasps pronounced as 'HI-KA HI-KA'.

Through the force of the vital energy below, the seminal point is unable to resist being accelerated upwards through the central channel. By this method, it is moved upwards, with seven HI-KA gasps, to the navel. Then, with a further seven HI-KA gasps it reaches the heart, with a further seven it reaches the throat, and with a further seven it reaches the space between the eyebrows.

Then, uttering HI-KA, [a final time], the seminal point makes contact with the syllable HAM at the crown fontanelle, after which one should visualise that it spins downwards again and comes to rest below the navel as a white diffusion. Rest in that state for some time……………………….

..... because HI-KA is a mantra which reduces the life-span, this should only be used until [training in] consciousness transference is successful. Otherwise- after [the training] has been successful, do not resort to the HI-KA breathing. If, on account of excessive exertion, one overdoes [the training in] consciousness transference, one will run the risk of lapsing into perpetual unconsciousness. In such cases, and if the consciousness has risen too precipitously, and one experiences vertigo and so forth, one should beat the soles of the feet with the fists and massage the crown of the head. Then, while focusing intensely on the visualisation of an extremely heavy golden stupa on the soles of the feet, one should perform many yogic jumps, so that [the consciousness] is becalmed.

These essential points are to be generally observed in the course of the practical training.  The 'consciousness transference of the training phase' which has just been described should be carefully practised while one is in good health, and before the signs of death.

The source of the experience

Tibetan Book of the Dead [Bardo Thodol]

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image