This brilliant comic explains the Bardo, the intermediary period between life and death, and what Tibetan Buddhists think happens to you after death.
According to Tibetan Buddhists, the bardo is the intermediary stage between death and rebirth—where a soul who has just left its body experiences a hyper-vsoul ivid “virtual reality” where its life flashes before its eyes, and it gets to witness first-hand the karma it has accumulated during that lifetime. The Nyingma school of Tibet teaches that this period lasts 49 days, during which time the just-passed individual must come to grips with the life they’ve just lived and prepare for the next one, which will be determined not only by their prior karma but by their actions in the bardo.
The bardo teachings are incredibly deep and complex, and critical for esoteric Buddhists—particularly because devoted Buddhists believe that this trans-incarnational period is an excellent opportunity to decide not to reincarnate, and therefore avoid the suffering inherent in existence.
The bardo teachings are contained in the Bardo Thödol, commonly known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The bardo was recently depicted incredibly vividly in the Gaspar Nöe film Enter the Void, about a man who dies while smoking DMT in Tokyo and must spend the rest of the film dealing with the bardo state.
The comic book below, created by Thomas Coville, used to be all over the Internet, but now it has vanished from all but a few backup archives—the graphics are pretty basic (I think it was created in the comic book creator app that used to come bundled with OS X), but it brilliantly sums up exactly what the bardo is, and how to transit it. I’ve saved it here for posterity—enjoy.
Author: Jason Louv