In the Chonyid one has to exercise Vairagya and Viveka, or detachment and discrimination–detachment as to what is seen, and discrimination as to what is real and unreal in the unfolding panorama. One has to overcome one’s attraction to the images of beauty in this first Chonyid stage as well as to overcome one’s repulsion to wrathful and awesome images in the following Chonyid phase. One has to embrace every appearance as a reflection of one’s own pure primordial nature. Forms should be seen as illusory, their inner essence, however, should be realized as the essence of Reality. Tsele Rangorol explains it in this way:

“The key point in the Bardo of dharmata is simply to rest in awareness, no matter what happens, and to be able to embrace everything with the mindfulness of awareness-wisdom, without losing the continuity of that awareness.” (1993:7)

Aside from psychic images that one perceives in the Chonyid, one may also see coloured-lights, either bright and dazzling or dull. The bright coloured-lights originate from the five “Dhyani Buddhas” of the spiritual planes, whereas the dull coloured-lights emanate from the 6 lower realms of becoming. Like the psychic images that one may see in the Chonyid, the coloured-lights are also a manifestation of one’s mind. Their appearance may continue all the way through Sidpa bardo. In the following we list the realms with their associated coloured-lights together with the Dhyani Buddhas and their corresponding colour rays:

[Note: The table may be seen as originally published at our website]

Generally speaking, one has to distance oneself and not be attracted to the dull lights as they lead one to a rebirth in a lower world. Conversely, bright coloured-lights lead us to a more fortunate rebirth in the spiritual worlds. When encountered, therefore, one has to abide in the dazzling coloured-lights and allow them to guide one to a higher state. Detlef Lauf in the Secret Doctrines of the Book of the Dead, tells us what would occur if we were to be attracted to dull lights:

“If thou art frightened by the pure radiances of Wisdom and attracted by the impure lights of the 6 lokas, then thou will assume a body in any of the 6 Lokas and suffer sangsaric miseries . . .” (1989:125)

Chonyid Bardo, Second Stage

This stage is a continuation of the previous stage. Should the
wareness-principle still be unliberated from the bardo in the previous experience, this stage dawns to reflect the darker side of one’s psyche for immediate reaction–or response. When the images of one’s spiritual aspect exhausts itself from one’s psyche, what remains are the negative side with images called by Tibetan teachings “the 58 wrathful deities.” Like the images of the peaceful deities, these wrathful images are mere illusions, thoughtforms, hallucinations, or mirages. They are simply projections of one’s negative thoughts, feelings and karmic stains. It is therefore imperative that the soul grasp the true nature of these images and not be repulsed, frightened or alarmed by them. Nothing can hurt one’s primordial nature, one’s Divine Self–“the Real cannot be threatened”–and this is a lesson that one has to learn even now while incarnated in the physical form. A calm abiding in one’s pure awareness without any dualistic thought of “I” and “thou” or any sense of separation should be cultivated and maintained. There should only be a feeling of unity, of oneness, of integration with All That Is, which is one’s Divine Self. Understandably, such an awareness may not come automatically while one is facing terrifying images. It is for this reason that there should be a reasonable amount of spiritual practice while one is still yet alive on the physical plane. Referring to the images perceived in the bardo and a possible emancipation through right understanding and awareness as well as the result of wrong apprehension, Detlef Lauf comments:

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