The vastness of space does quake the heart and the depths of eternity may give pause to wonder —but who has the time? A house is a bardo between once clean and clean again where suppressed memories and hard water spots do plot their comebacks and the circling around of it hides in the pleats of its own skirt Where the mind does ever dwell stinks of heaven, with notes of hell and in the spaces there between stray sweepings join and hide so that all else may be clean To dust indeed shall we return through beggar's guts we tread eternity is the maid's day off tough luck, you hopeful dead
bardo—Used loosely, “bardo” is the state of existence intermediate to death and rebirth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one’s next birth, when one’s consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable, and then proceeding to terrifying hallucinations that arise as the maturation of one’s previous unskillful actions (karma). For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals, the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since authentic insight may arise with the direct experience of reality; for others, it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth. (modified from wikipedia)
More on The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Most importantly, this common form of the title comes from the original (1927) translation by Walter Evans-Wentz who had misunderstood the text as being the Tibetan equivalent of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The text, which is a part of larger Nyingma teaching, is actually titled, Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo. Evans-Wentz’s translation has been found to be tainted with error and misunderstanding, as he relied on his studies of Theosophy and Hinduism to guide his work. He had no familiarity with Tibetan Buddhism. The translation by Robert Thurman (yes, he is Uma’s dad) will probably be the most accessible to the generally curious.
My next poetry collection, should there be one, will likely be entitled Eternity is the Maid’s Day Off.