The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Bardo

In 3×14 ‘More Bad Than Good’ Kira gives Scott some research that she did on the Bardo. We catch a quick glimpse of the first few page so yes obviously I paused to take a closer look (I have issues okay).

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Now I couldn’t actually read much of the text but I think the title says:
‘Six States of Bardo’ and then they are listed.

  1. The Bardo of This Life
  2. The Bardo of Meditation
  3. The Bardo of Dream
  4. The Bardo of Dying
  5. The Bardo of Dharmata
  6. The Bardo of Existence

I also have found the symbol that heads the page.

It is this symbol:

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It is found on old copies of the Tibetian Book of the Dead. This is the Western name for the Bardo Thodol which transliterated properly means something like ‘Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State’.

[Also as I am addicted to research and the book is now in the public domain you can read the whole thing here online.]

Now as to what the full symbol means, technically nothing, it was created by the publishers for the book but it does incorporate some meaningful symbols.

In the centre is a hexagram and generally speaking across the many cultures and traditions that it appears in represents Creation. In Tibetian it is called ‘the origin of phenomena’. It also can symbolize the balance between humankind and the divine (or the unity between male and female) and if this balance is maintain it results in enlightenment. I really like how this connects with the idea in Teen Wolf that the universe finds a way to balance itself; a sort of cosmic karma. I have actually wondered if Scott being a true Alpha is just a part of the universe trying to balance itself out again??

Derek: You can’t break the rules, not like this, universe balances things out. [2×10]

Deaton: This is just the entropy at work and this is more the natural way of the universe but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s falling apart. It’s just changing shape.[2×03]

Also significant is the fact that the Celtic Druids were charged with keeping nature in balance which implies that it can get out of balance.

Peter:  Let Scott be the hero of his morally black and white world. The real survivors you and I – we live in shades of grey. [3×03]

I do actually think that this season is about Scott learning to navigate the ‘grey’ area while holding up his moral integrity.

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Okay so then I also actually then read the Bardo Thodol and picked out some of the bits that I felt were the most interesting and relevant to Teen Wolf. If you actually read the following I congratulate you on following me into meta hell.

(page 12) – the state between life and death
‘Alas! when the Uncertain Experiencing of Reality is dawning upon me here, With every thought of fear or terror or awe for all [apparitional appearances] set aside, May I recognize whatever [visions] appear, as the reflections of mine own consciousness; May I know them to be of the nature of apparitions in the Bardo: When at this all-important moment [of opportunity] of achieving a great end, May I not fear the bands of Peaceful and Wrathful [Deities], mine own thought-forms.’

To me this sounds exactly like what is happening to Scott, Stiles and Allison; they are being crippled by their visions of their own fears. So they need to recognise them as reflections of their own minds. And also the above paragraph implies the the good and bad deities (demons) are actually conjured by their own minds.

Kira: And you can be visited by peaceful and wrathful deities.

(page 38) – lord of death and the mirror of karma 
Then the Lord of Death will say, ‘ I will consult the Mirror of Karma’. 
So saying, he will look in the Mirror, wherein every good and evil act is vividly reflected. Lying will be of no avail. 

Then [one of the Executive Furies of] the Lord of Death will place round thy neck a rope and drag thee along; he will cut off thy head, extract thy heart, pull out thy intestines, lick up thy brain, drink thy blood, eat thy flesh, and gnaw thy bones; but thou wilt be incapable of dying. Although thy body be hacked to pieces, it will revive again. The repeated hacking will cause intense pain and torture.

In Buddhist mythology the Lord of Death is Yama he carries a rope lasso which he uses to capture the souls of the dead. This really reminded me of the first Season 3 trailer that we got where Scott drowned himself. In the trailer there was a rope snapping.

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I am now wondering if this is symbolic of the souls of the dead getting free??

The second part of the paragraph is very reminiscent of what happened to Allison in one of her hallucinations. Kate removed her heart and then she was basically eaten alive. In Bardo these kind of hallucinations are a result of guilt which fits with Allison in my opinion.

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I wonder if this means that Kate is somehow now a Fury of the Lord of Death? O_o

The real question, however, is if Lydia is in fact a Lord of Death?

A Banshee does, traditionally speaking, a lot of the same things as Yama. They are both psychopomps; guider of souls and carry them to the afterlife.

Most cultures, ancient or modern, include at least one figure with this function; several have many. They are not necessarily personifications of death or judges of the dead, although many are; they may or may not choose the slain, but all escort their charges to the next world. If more than one appears, they may dispute over who gets the soul, which will determine the destination. Often they act as threshold guardian figures either to dead souls or to living heroes (Scott, Stiles and Allison) descending into the underworld. [1]

Also in the Bardo Thodol there is a line that goes:

“…and tell them to the Righteous King of the Lord[s] of Death.”

My understanding of Buddhism is basically nil and this wasn’t exactly the easiest book to read (understatement of the century) but this seems to be implying that there are many Lords of Death and one King?

Could Lydia be one of the Lords?? I don’t think that it matters that they are melding different mythology together because every tradition has their own stories about the origins of the same thing.

In Tibetian Buddhism Yama is the prime mover of the cycle of death and rebirth. And while we don’t know exactly how she did it yet Lydia essentially helped Peter be reborn.

Also if the Lord of Death is associated with the Mirror of Karama (the mirror which reveals evil). Then I’d say that there is a good chance that Lydia is a Lord of Death?? Because of all the emphasis on Lydia and mirrors throughout the seasons.

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Plus mirrors were actually used in the rebirth of Peter:
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(page 38) – voidness
In reality it is not formed into anything, but is a Voidness which is the Dharma-Kāya. That Voidness is not of the nature of the voidness of nothingness, but a Voidness at the true nature of which thou feelest awed, and before which thine intellect shineth clearly and more lucidly; that is the [state of] mind of the Sambhoga-Kāya. 

In that state wherein thou art existing, there is being experienced by thee, in an unbearable intensity, voidness and Brightness inseparable — the Voidness bright by nature and the Brightness by nature void, and the Brightness inseparable from the Voidness — a state of the primordial [or unmodified] intellect, which is the Ādi-Kāya. And the power of this, shining unobstructedly, will radiate everywhere; it is the Nirmāna-Kāya.

The word Void is mentioned a lot here but I am not really going to pretend that I actually understand it. Could be relevant could equally mean nothing. It’s essentially, I think, about realizing your ‘true’ body (seeing the world as it really is) and one of the things that can help you do this is a mirror because they do not reflect lies :O

In the trailer:

Man: There is a dark spirit; they call it Void. It draws its power from pain and tragedy; strife and chaos. Destroy it even if it’s your own daughter.

???? Personally I think the lines above have been edited to obscure meaning.

(page 42) – bardo
“The significance of the above teaching, ‘When, at this time, the Sidpa Bardo is dawning upon me [or upon oneself]’, is that now thou art wandering in the Sidpa Bardo. As a sign of this, if thou lookest into water, or into mirrors, thou wilt see no reflection of thy face or body; nor doth thy body cast any shadow. Thou hast discarded now thy gross material body of flesh and blood. These are the indications that thou art wandering about in the Sidpa Bardo.”

The Sidpa Bardo is the “bardo of rebirth” where a person experiences karmaically induced hallucinations before they are reborn.

This paragraph really really attracted my attention because I remembered this gif the teen wolf blog posted where the person has no reflection:

And I am pretty sure it’s Stiles because in the last few episodes we’ve had him looking into these exact same mirrors not to mention the 3b trailer where he’s quite possibly on the other side of them.

3×13:
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3×14: (source of gifs)

3b trailer:

Got to look out to see if he starts not casting shadows next.

What exactly is going on here with Stiles? Is he using the mirrors to suss out reality?

In the Bardol Thodol it says you have to close the door to be reborn and to do so you basically have to realise that you are dead and that nothing is real. There are a number of different ways to do this.

However if you fail to recognise that you are in Bardo the passage below explains what happens:

‘I, by not having understood these [things] in that way hitherto, have held the non-existent to be the existent, the unreal to be the real, the illusory to be the actual, and have wandered in the Sangsāra so long. And even now if I do not recognize them to be illusions, then, wandering in the Sangsāra for long ages, [I shall be] certain to fall into the morass of various miseries. ‘Indeed, all these are like dreams, like hallucinations, like echoes, like the cities of the Odour-eaters, like mirage, like mirrored forms, like phantasmagoria, like the moon seen in water — not real even for a moment. In truth, they are unreal; they are false.’

There are actually a number of different ways to close the door if you fail to recognise the truth the first time, you have five chances, I am unclear what happens if you fail after the five chances to be honest. Hell maybe?

(page 43) – closing the (womb) door
“Be not distracted. The boundary line between going upwards or going downwards is here now. If thou givest way to indecision for even a second, thou wilt have to suffer misery for a long, long time. This is the moment. Hold fast to one single purpose. Persistently join up the chain of good acts.”

Interestingly enough one of the first ways to close the door is by doing a chain of good deeds and through “earnestness and pure love”. I feel like this is what happened in 3×14. Like for example with Stiles being able to read again after his good karma from helping Malia but at the same time I think they have all failed to escape the Bardo.

Guess that means onto the next method.

Not even kidding the second chance at closing the door actually boils down to this:

(page 43)
“O nobly-born, at this time thou wilt see visions of males and females in union. When thou seest them, remember to withhold thyself from going between them.”

Yep they are really tested with visions of  err copulation and stuff. This isn’t even as bizarre as it sounds. In the trailer for 3×16 ‘Illuminated’ we clearly see Scott being tested by Allison and Isaac being together. Not necessarily even a vision but I guess it’s the process that is important considering that Scott isn’t actually dead.

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(page 55) – elements 
May the ethereal elements not rise up as enemies;
May it come that we shall see the Realm of the Blue Buddha.
May the watery elements not rise up as enemies;
May it come that we shall see the Realm of the White Buddha.
May the earthy elements not rise up as enemies;
May it come that we shall see the Realm of the Yellow Buddha.
May the fiery elements not rise up as enemies;
May is come that we shall see the Realm of the Red Buddha.
May the airy elements not rise up as enemies;
May it come that we shall see the Realm of the Green Buddha.
May the elements of the rainbow colours not rise up as enemies;
May it come that all the Realms of the Buddhas will be seen.
May it come that all the Sounds [in the Bardo] will be known as one’s own sounds;
May it come that all the Radiances will be known as one’s own radiances;
May it come that the Tri-Kāya will be realized in the Bardo.

Not sure this is at all relevant but I found it interesting because the elements have had a place in Teen Wolf since Season 1 (fire) Season 2 (water), Season (earth) etc etc.

Not to mention that more recently they seem to be making an emphasis on colour. It is possible that Stiles’ strings don’t mean more than what he said and this REALLY is more looking to much into things but I found it interesting that the four string colours match the four line colours on Danny’s map of the telluric currents that he drew.

The telluric currents are the energy that makes Beacon Hills a beacon and come from the Nemeton. The tree that had the symbol for the Celtic-five fold knot drawn on it – the symbol for the elements!!! It’s probably sad that this all makes complete sense to me.

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So basically I’ve channelled my inner Kira but I’m impressed her research only took 2 hours because this has taken me literally 2 weeks.

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