In TANTRIC POETRY by Erik Pema Kunsang7 Comments

Just learning how to navigate in a new body

For centuries, meditators have been using songs to remind themselves of very important key points. This song is about life and death. It’s especially about how to use every situation and every experience to improve and liberate our minds: your normal everyday life, dream and deep sleep, the states of mind during meditation, the process of consciousness separating from the body, being face to face with unstructured reality as completely naked consciousness, and finally the process of seeking and choosing the best place of reincarnation, reconnecting with a body for rebirth. The seven verses deal with situations that we meet as human beings. This is true whether we are spiritual, religious, atheists or freethinkers.

The verses starts with ema which means, ”whoa, this is for real!”
Feel free to chant along.

Now that while the bardo of this lifetime is unfolding,
I will not be lazy since there is no time to waste.
Enter nondistraction’s path of hearing, thinking, training,
While it is just now I have the precious human form.
Since this free and favored form ought to have real meaning,
Emotion and samsara shall no longer hold the reign.

Now that while the bardo of the dreamstate is unfolding,
I will not sleep like a corpse, so careless, ignorant.
Knowing everything is self-display, with recognition,
Capture dreams, conjure, transform, train lucid wakefulness.
Instead of lying fast asleep like animals are sleeping,
I will use the Dharma just as in the waking state.

Now that while the meditation bardo is unfolding,
I will set aside every deluded wandering.
Free of clinging, settled within boundless nondistraction,
I’ll be stable in completion and development.
As I’m yielding projects to the single-minded training,
Delusion and unknowing shall no longer hold the reign.

Now that while the bardo of the death-state is unfolding,
I will cast away attachment, clinging to all things.
Enter undistractedly the state of lucid teachings,
Suspending as a vast expanse this nonarising mind.
Leaving this material form, my mortal human body,
I will see it as illusion and impermanent.

Now that while the bardo of dharmata is unfolding,
I will hold no fear or dread or panic for it all.
Recognizing everything to be the bardo’s nature,
Now the time has come for mastering the vital point.
Colors, sounds and rays shine forth, self-radiance of knowing,
May I never fear the peaceful-wrathful self-display.

Now that while the bardo of becoming is unfolding,
I will keep the lasting goal one-pointedly in mind.
Reconnecting firmly with the flow of noble action,
I will shut the womb-doors and remember to turn back.
Since this is the time for fortitude and pure perception,
I will shun wrong views and train the guru’s union-form.

If I keep this senseless mind that never thinks of dying,
And continue striving for the pointless aims of life,
Won’t I be deluded when I leave here empty handed?
Since I know the sacred Dharma is just what I need,
Shouldn’t I be living by the Dharma right this moment,
Giving up activities that are just for this life?

These are the instructions which the gracious guru told me.
If I do not keep the guru’s teachings in my heart,
How can this be other than myself fooling myself?

Translated from Padmasambhava’s precious teachings by Erik Pema Kunsang.
Music by Tara Trinley Wangmo. Performed by Sascha Alexandra Aurora & Rodrigo Reijers

A Knowledge Holder, a tantric mystic who do not fall back on the path of total awakening, jumps from incarnation to incarnation, with no fear and attachment. The gravity is a combination of kindness, former wishes and the needs of others.

Sing this song every day and you will find that your awareness of the six states will deepen and be more realistic. It will assist you when its time to die to recognize the death process so you can take advantages of the opportunity it offers. Death is real and there is no escape, so be prepared. If you want to know more, keep reading:

Our life and death as six bardo-states is simply an amazing topic, so totally relevant for every person alive. Where most world cultures have lost their esoteric knowledge about death and dying, the meditation masters of Tibet have preserved the tantric scriptures as a living tradition of applied and tested knowledge. That is why we have the instructions necessary to personally experience and to set your mind at ease.

Here are three books which each are important to understand the bardo states in our life and death: The first is a recent and possibly the best translation of Padmasambhava’s famous Tibetan Book of the DeadAwakening Upon Dying, by Elio Guarisco. The next is a more popularized version of the same book and a joy to read. It is an easy and compelling read if you want to know more about what happens during and after death. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche. The last is for the gourmet of tantric literature, for the meditator who just have to have the subtle points from the tantras, extracted and explained in simple language while keeping true to the tantric language and its pithy terminology. Mirror of Mindfulness: The Cycle of the Four Bardos, by Tsele Natsok Rangdrol.

About the Author
Erik Pema Kunsang

Erik Pema Kunsang

Facebook Twitter Google+

Translator of ancient Buddhist scriptures, author, bridge-builder to modern life, Buddhist teacher & meditation instructor. Board of director at 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Founder of Rangjung Yeshe Publications and LEVEKUNST art of life. Other LEVEKUNST articles by the same author. Erik's website & retreats.

Share this Post


  1. Avatar

    Thank you so much dear Dharma brothers and sisters ! This I would like to share with all our Dharma brothers and sisters worlwide ! I bow upon your kindness !!!

  2. Erik Meier Carlsen

    Dear Erik and friends,

    As some of you will now, I have worked with Bardo Thödol, the so-called Tibetan Book of The Dead most of my life, and created a Danish translation “Dødebogen”, Borgen with 80 pages introduction and Danish translation with Tibetan and xxxxxx, including the root-prayer, chosen by EPK. I fully andorse the recommandating of the translation by Elio Guarisco, disciple of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, my rootmaster, who have written a very important introduction to the edition from Shang Shung Edizione 2012. A more comprehending edition is “First complete translation The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Penguin 2005, translated by Gurmed Dorje under Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoches direction and in cooperation with H. H. Dali Lama’s very capable translator through many years, Geshe Thubden Jinpa..Allthough Sogyal Rinpoche’s best-seller edition is very enjoyable reading, as EPK wriye, I don’t find it wholly reliable, it is a kind of strongly edited transcripts of Soyal Lakars talks written by two old students, who to some degree mix rhe Tibetan teachings with New Age-“spirituality”

  3. Avatar

    Have bookmarked this page and will sing it everyday until the words are finely written in this heart….thank you so much to all who made this possible.

    With joyful, grateful, devotion.

      1. Avatar

        Australia : )
        Really hope to see you soon Erik xxx

  4. Avatar

    May the translator of this prayer from Tibetan to English language, be blessed
    with all buddhas for attaining eternal life in Nirvana.

  5. Avatar

    May all be able to swiftly cross all the stages of Bardo. Its solely depends on our practice and merit, and one can not do anything about it. As if no control of it. But this Bardo of this LIFE, we have full control of…We need to do a lot about it. At the ultimate level when one sees this life and life after as one, there is no death.
    With Deep Veneration and respect.

Leave a Comment