The Tibetan word bardo means "in-between state." The word is commonly used to mean a state between death and rebirth. However, the Bardo Thodol -- "Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State," known in English as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead," describes six kinds of bardo.
Three are associated with life:
- The bardo of birth
- The bardo of dreams
- The bardo of meditation
These three are the states from death to rebirth:
- The bardo of the moment of death
- The bardo of supreme reality
- The bardo of becoming.
The Bardo Thodol describes a dissolution of the ego created by the skandhas and a falling away of external reality. The consciousness that remains experiences the true nature of the mind.
If the consciousness identifies this true nature, next there will be great clarity and luminosity represented in the Bardo Thodol by several wrathful and peaceful deities. These deities are projections of the consciousness.
If the consciousness fails to recognize and understand these experiences, the bardo of becoming begins, leading to rebirth.