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Tibetan Book of the Dead - Rebirth in a Dream



Type of Spiritual Experience


There is a description in the Tibetan Book of the Dead of how a rebirth experience is possible in a dream or whilst lucid dreaming.  The description covers the various sorts of experiences that yogins or shamans must have had themselves - a sort of compendium of terrifying effects.  We know they are rebirth because the sentence says  "If such dreams and others like them occur when one is not sick, they are indefinite".

The description is rather confusingly mixed up in descriptions of actual death, which are in general not that helpful, given we now have medical facilities and means of diagnosing illness the writers did not have

A description of the experience

If one dreams of being disembowelled by a fierce black woman,
And that one's entrails are spilling out,
Or that a black man arrives, wielding an iron mace,
And coming into one's presence, he tells you to depart,
Or [if one dreams] that one is being dragged along by a black rope attached to the neck,
Or that one is inside a lofty red-coloured castle,
Surrounded by a moat and perimeter wall,
Or [if one dreams] of being decapitated and having one's head carried off by another,
Or of being surrounded by crows, anguished spirits, or villains,
Or of being willingly led away, or leaving [home] in a bridal procession,
Of being naked, with one's hair cut off and beard shaved,
Of constantly associating with friends who have died,
Of being dragged along by a crowd of dead people,
Of jumping into water, sinking into mud, or being swallowed by fish,
Of entering a womb and falling asleep,
Of being overcome in a battle, in which the other side is victorious,
Of wearing red clothing, and being adorned with red garlands,
Of repeatedly picking red flowers,
Of climbing a mountain of red shellac,
Of having one's head wrapped in a red silk turban,
Of twigs growing on the crown of your head, and birds nesting there,
Of falling asleep repeatedly in a terrifying charnel ground,
Of being old, and carrying a heavy burden,
Of the sun and moon falling to the plains, Ieaving one shrouded in darkness,
Of jumping headlong into a pit,
Of dancing together with a host of ogres,
Or setting out, thinking one will roam to unfamiliar distant lands, never to return -
If such dreams and others like them occur when one is not sick, they are indefinite

The source of the experience

Tibetan Book of the Dead [Bardo Thodol]

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Dreaming and lucid dreaming