From the moment of death, to the moment of rebirth (or alternative outcomes)

How would you map the flowchart of the bardo? or instead of a flowchart a tree map?

A list of stages would also be sufficient. The specific order is important though I believe.

I remember something being said of the max time one could spend in the bardo being 49 days. Chunks of 7 days normally lead to rebirth, and I have knowledge of some of the stages. The specific order is always a matter of curiosity for me.

  • Some references to info. you found would be helpful. You might check out At which point after conception does life begin?.
    – user3169
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 21:58
  • 2
    @Samana Johann, wow thank you for putting a bounty on this.
    – hellyale
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 2:20
  • 3
    May it be useful for you and many in regard of some unterstanding. You may use Atmas account to give it to the best answer you think or how ever you think its best given. Free to use.
    – user11235
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 2:29
  • @Ryan you're the second to put a bounty on this. Thanks.
    – hellyale
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 8:44

5 Answers 5


Rather than trying to construct a flowchart or tree-map of the bardo, allow me to suggest a couple of references, wherein this could be found:

First, "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" translated by Gyurme Dorje, edited by Graham Coleman with Thupten Jinpa, Viking, 2006. Specifically, Chapter 11, "The Great Liberation Upon Hearing". As explained in the context for the chapter, this would often be read to the dying person (and recently deceased) to provide a roadmap of upcoming experiences. Being reminded of these waypoints the traveler would be more likely to recognize the luminosity of their true nature:

"O, Child of Buddha Nature,(call the name of the individual) listen! Pure inner radiance, reality itself, is now arising before you. Recognize it! O, Child of Buddha Nature, this radiant essence that is now your conscious awareness is a brilliant emptiness..." (pg. 231)

Second, another very good reference would be "Mind Beyond Death" by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Snow Lion Publications, 2006. Chapter 5, "Evaporating Reality, The Painful Bardo of Dying", might hit closest to the mark you have set. Chapters 6 and 7 bring us back through the bardo of Dharmata and bardo of becoming to the next life.

  • Does not answer question
    – hellyale
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 23:16
  • 2
    @scott perhaps if you have access to these books you could reference them to map out the bardo for us here, so that we all could benefit from this? :)
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 0:23

From a commentary within "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" given by Chogyam Trungpa :

Bardo means gap;

I feel like this is a good place to start. I've also heard it translated as the "in-between" the state between states if you will.

In my question however I was specifically asking about The Bardo of the Moment Before Death

From death, which the Tibetan Buddhists will always be kind enough to remind you is a certainty in life... , what directions can you "flow" through your karmic river?

Not a trivial question, and for schools outside of the Mahayana, sometimes deemed a meaningless question. At which point both schools tend to stagnate in circles of missing each others points.

Continuing from the commentary though I will go through the stages in order.

The first basic bardo experience is the experience of uncertainty about if one is actually going to die, [quote continues]

Here the commentary veers to talk of the 6 realms before returning to the Bard experience and Bardo visions.

The first vision that appears is the vision of the peaceful divinities.

A description of what is meant by peaceful follows here,

The state of absolute peacefulness seems to be extremely frightening, [quote continues]

I am cutting quotes short and pulling the minimum needed for context here. To type out the entire descriptions of each stage would require much time and effort. Also, for each stage there are different ways one can react, that can cause things to happen in different orders or certain outcomes... The general feel of the stage, in the typical order that they might occur is what we are trying to illustrate here.

Next the experience of the wrathful deities

Followed by a section where the word luminosity is used a lot, A vivid "visual" experience accompanied by a loud sound. The sound and "visual" are intangible as you do not have a body at this time. I do not know what to call this stage.

The first day

After four days of unconsciousness following the luminosity you "awake"

and realize you have died and that this is the bardo state

the reverse of samsaric experience occurs. (?? What the author means by this is not entirely certain ??)

Some kind of increase in intelligence and awareness is described here...Exact details aren't written here, but it seems to be of some magnitude, and I have heard in one lecture 9x the living intellect is assumed.

Blue light -- appearance of Vairocana (The one with faces in all directions)

A vision of the Realm of the gods occurs here in tandem, blue light is terrifying, white light is comforting, a long tangent about the realm of the gods is here,running in fear to the white light the second day begins.

The second day

White light --Vajrasattva-Aksobhya appears

Accompanied by male and female bodhisattvas, bright light shines from them (White) also a dull grey light is present (hell light, associated with hell realm)

The third day

Yellow light -- Ratnasambhava appears

Dim light of the human world

The forth day

Amitabha and red light

The fifth day

Green light -- Amoghasiddhi

Sixth day

42 peaceful deities appear

Four gate keepers

East Gate, heruka known as Victorious One appears in wrathful form, his form inspires such awe that one does not even consider trying to pass through the gate.

South Gate : Enemy of Yama

West gate : Hayagriva with a horse head, awakes one from passsions

North gate : Amrtakundali with an anti-death potion

No escape through any gate, those overcome by fear that try to flee are captured by goddesses accompanying the gate keepers (Various ways are described) Those trying to escape through the gates are stopped by the gate keepers, those attempting to kill themselves to escape are revived by Amrtakundali.

Being forced to face the six realms (Order listed is God / jealous god / human / animal / hungry ghost / hell realm but it does not specify if it must be in this order)

One must face the Buddha of each realm, this stage occurs in the heart center

The seventh day

Green light disappears, experience moves to the throat center, vidyadharas appear

Not much is said here

Wrathful deities

Note : Answer is still in progress, the commentary is finished and a basic outline is present, I will be adding details and clarifying things as I continue to read the book. I also have an audio lecture I will be re-listening to, and using it to add details to each stage. There are still some stages I know of that have not been mentioned in the commentary. (The karmic mirror stage, the taking the body of your next life stage) I will insert them appropriately when found


Nelly Nelly on FB - Rebirth take place right after, no wait ; its called Gandabba: It begins right after ur death in either 31 planes of existence ; If u are to get a dogs birth (succeeding for) Hon, u have that copycat of a dogs frame now: This stage is not solid though hence no food at this very stage; Its only a copy cat of what u have accustomed as a human; U have dog traits, ur Bardo is right after ur human death of that Red chain now to a Blue chain; U cling just like that to the new blue chain now; But u still have not found a womb though; u are here till u get that dogs womb or find that pertinent dog mother; So, now u are a dog bardo; if u are going to be a bird, ur red chain of human disconnect right after ur death and cling to the blue chain of the bird bardo ; Make note, no solid body due to no food or soliditary till she gets the birds mother; But she waits in her dog or bird gandabba till she gets her pertinent womb; If she is going to get a human birth again, then she gets a human bardo till the right karma clicks with her and provide her of the mothers womb pertinent of what she been accustomed in human life ; Now this is a LIFE here ; This life is what goes to a womb; So the birth or what we concieve is already a LIFE; So u get it now, the Gandabba is a LIFE and its ur new BIRTH: IF u wont score for a mothers womb or even a pet, u could be here for trillion eaons now: There is no intermediate stage though, its a LIFE ; U die, u REBIRTH as a Gandabba: let me know, is this enough ; Thank you

  • do you have reference for this? It would be good to know what school of thought this comes from
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 12:19
  • Its another language, we have links , he is an Anagami status ; I will post a link here, but I am not sure of the exact link I heard of this ; u have to listen all of them, as time permits, I am translating all of them in FB - Nelly Nelly ; and here are the links Hon youtube.com/watch?v=jjPBP1rtjkI The language is Sri Lankan Sinhalese :) Thank you and Theruwan Saranayi
    – user7592
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 22:16

The stages of an in between stage? Bardo is any in between of any arising phenomena. Look between what arises to experience it for yourself. Experience what is in between any experience that happens now. There is no in between of you now. Maybe there will be in between between now and then or in between this life and the next life but that isn't what is, What is now. Is Bardo an arising? Are there sages that have come back from the Bardo to tell of stages? Are there common stages that have been experienced in the Bardo like there are common stages in Vipassana Meditation?

  • There are definable stages in the bardo between death and rebirth.
    – hellyale
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 15:33
  • An order in which events occur
    – hellyale
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 15:33
  • @hellyale Perhaps you're looking for a canonical answer i.e. that you intend this question as a reference-request question, and therefore not a "personal practice" or "what do you experience?" kind of question.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 15:48
  • Stages that occur a lot and among different traditions and religions? Vipassana stages are known among many religions, so I've heard.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 15:49
  • Really I feel like I am straight forward with what I asked. A flow chart of the stages of the bardo. In order... @ChrisW so far the answers have been cop out answers. I worry the bounty is influencing people to answer, but the bounty should encourage higher quality answers.
    – hellyale
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 15:53

There are commonalities between all things that arise. "Thee Bardo" between death and birth is no exception.

You can experience what "Thee Bardo" is by learning how to directly experience what arises between arisings(bardos) within your own mind and body.

You will see that we die every moment and are reborn in every moment and "Thee Death" is just another change.

The end of one arising(death), then bardo, then the beginning of another arising(rebirth) is the pattern that is built into all phenomena that arise. This is an example of the commonalities of existence.

This is a good approach to prepare for death and the bardo.


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