Bardo

Tib., bar-do: Intermediate state
Skt., antarabhava

It is true that the Tibetan term bar-do is used to indicate the intermediate phases one has to pass, according to these teachings, between one's death and one's rebirth or reincarnation.

However, bardo also stands for other special states of mind, not all of which are connected with death. Their differentiation is as follows:

  1. skyes-gnas bar-do
    intermediate state of ordinary consciousness, the ordinary waking state
  2. rmi-lam bar-do
    intermediate state of dreaming
  3. bsam-gtan bar-do
    intermediate state of meditation
  4. 'chi-kha'i bar-do
    intermediate state of dying, of the moment of death
  5. chos-nyid bar-do
    intermediate state of reality
  6. srid-pa bar-do
    intermediate state of rebirth, of becoming

As can be seen from these translations, only states 4 through 6 are part of the period during which an individual is believed to remain in a kind of limbo between death and (re)birth, a period that lasts - according to the Tibetan teachings - forty-nine days.

See also Bardo Goddesses, Bardo Mandala, Bardo Thödol.