What does the Tibetan book of the dead say happens 14 days after death?

I don't have my copy to hand. I'm asking, because I suspect a dear friend of mine may have died last week.


2 Answers 2


In general, the process of the Bardo can last between 7 - 49 days with a chance of rebirth or liberation every 7 days.

Depending on your friend's knowledge of the Bardo he could either still be in the Bardo, or in the process of seeing his next life / being reborn / in utero.

  • i read that the essential teaching ends after 14 days, the 2nd week being the wrathful deities. i just hope he is ok
    – user2512
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 19:31
  • 3
    @user3293056 even the wrathful deities are trying to teach and guide your friend. They just teach different lessons.
    – hellyale
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 19:57

The general heuristics in Bardo Thodol can be summed up - always follow the brightest, most unpleasant/painful light and be brave - never hide in a dark/shadow.

Easier said than done of course. That is why it says that there has to be someone present constantly reading to the deceased. In perfectly calm, legible voice.

Keep in mind that a lot of actual text is derived from their own mythologies and therefore has no meaning to us. The sole thing you can (hopefully) remember for your critical time is the light.

So "reading" can be understood as "talking to" and due to cultural impedance mismatch focusing on short and clear sentences is much more efficient. It may sound almost like a continually repeating "mantra". One of the reason why it's best not done in presence of a group.

So there's nothing you or anyone else can do "from a distance". Bardo Thodol is a very practical book for practitioners.

Assume that the deceased may hear your voice only occasionally and is completely disoriented, unless he's the one who was really, really well prepared. The well prepared will try to transition in the first 7 days, first day if he can.

Normally, the deceased should be reborn in 14-21 days (if he didn't accumulate a lot of bad karma) and no it doesn't have to happen exactly at 7 day boundaries - whenever he consciously/bravely follows that light. Beyond that, chances are slim that he'll come back as a human at all.

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