There seems to be quite a misconception as to the idea of bardo, which is that it is purely connected with the death and after-death experience. But the experience of the six bardos is not concerned with the future alone; it also concerns the present moment. Every step of experience, every step of life, is a bardo experience.
Bardo is a Tibetan word: bar means “in between” or, you could say, “no-man’s land,” and do is like a tower or an island in that no-man’s land. It’s likea flowing river which belongs neither to the other shore nor to this shore, but there is a little island in the middle, in between. In other words, it is present experience, the immediate experience of now-ness– where you are, where you’re at. That is the basic idea of bardo.
The experience of such a thing also brings the idea of space, of course. Without seeing the spacious quality, which does not belong to you or others, you would not be able to see the little island in the middle at all. The living experience of bardo could only come from seeing the background of space. And from that, within space or an understanding of space, a brilliant spark or flash happens. So generally, all bardo experiences are situations in which we have emerged from the past and we have not yet formulated the future, but strangely enough, we happen to be somewhere. We are standing on some ground, which is very mysterious. Nobody know how we happen to be there.
This whole series of situations, the six types of bardo experience, is present all the time. There is the domestic problem of the hungry ghosts, in terms of comfort, luxury, hunger and thirst. There is the competitive problem of the jealous gods, the asura level. There is the spiritual problem of the world of gods. There is the problem of communication and relationship, which is the world of hell, or naraka. There is the problem of not opening, or the animal realm. There is the problem of being sucked into situations and grasping, which is the human realm. These realms are not other lands, not situations outside. They are within us: we have domestic problems, emotional problems, spiritual problems, relationship problems. All of these are very apparent; they are right here. And each of these problems has its exit or highlight. In each there is the possibility of completely flipping out or of stepping out of the confusion.