Part one: Bardo and Limbo:
In some schools of Buddhism, bardo (Tibetan བར་དོ་ Wylie: bar do) or antarabhāva (Sanskrit) is an intermediate, transitional, or liminal state between death and rebirth.
The Bardo is also known as an: ”Intermediate state”.
In the theology of the Catholic Church it is the border between heaven and hell, in which there are souls that although did not sin, they still were not cleaned from the ancient sin and so they are in between heaven and hell.
In the more secular meaning Limbo is living in a state of uncertainty.
In Trinidad the Limbo is a unique dance and is also known as the “Under Stick Dance”. The dancer is in a state in which he is not touching the ground and not the stick, and he needs to pass between them both.
Part two: on Liminal state:
It is also an anthropological terminology and it is an unstable state in which a previous regime is about to fall down and a new regime did not yet stabilized.
Individuals tarped in a liminal state cannot operate in a rational way.
Jungian psychologists see in the individual the process of self-consciousness as happening in a liminal space, the individualism begins with distancing from the regular social state, this distancing characterizes the breaking of the Persona.
What is happening in the dark phase of a liminal state is a process of
dissolution from every knowing of how to arrive again to a state of completion.
Carl Rogers coined the term: “out of this world”. This state characterizes some of the therapists, they can cause the clients a kind of a trance feeling and what is interesting is that both are going out of the treatment as from a deep well or a tunnel.
Liminal time is the time of dusk, between day and night.
Part three: high states of consiousness:
One of the more existing thesis is that psychoactive drugs can influence states of consciousness. One of the better known books on the subject is:
“The Doors of Perception” by Aldous Huxley. It elaborates on his psychedelic experience under the influence of mescaline in May 1953.
Here are some quotes from him:
“Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul.”
― Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell.
“Then, suddenly, my consciousness was lighted up from within and I saw in a vivid way how the whole universe was made up of particles of material which, no matter how dull and lifeless they might seem, were nevertheless filled with this intense and vital beauty.”
— Aldous Huxley
“The ordinary waking consciousness is a very useful and, on most occasions, an indispensable state of mind; but it is by no means the only form of consciousness, nor in all circumstances the best. Insofar as he transcends his ordinary self and his ordinary mode of awareness, the mystic is able to enlarge his vision, to look more deeply into the unfathomable miracle of existence.
The mystical experience is doubly valuable; it is valuable because it gives the experiencer a better understanding of himself and the world and because it may help him to lead a less self-centered and more creative life.”
— Aldous Huxley, Moksha: Aldous Huxley’s Classic Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience.
Similar to Huxley, Carlos Castaneda also wrote about psychedelic drugs, he took Piute under the teachings of his mentor: Don Juan.
Also Krishnamurti talked of changing one’s state of consciousness by meditation.
The Armenian mystic: Gurdjieff talked of 4 levels of consciousness, from low to high:
The lowest is physical sleep.
Waking up from physical sleep.
With the aid of meditations and similar, one can reach self-consciousness.
Objective consciousness, here one is awake not only physically but also consciously.
Part four: between ego and an adult self.
The term Bardo could also be understood as a concept in the realms of human life; a person can find himself in a situation in which what is in him does not prepare him to function and have orientation in a new situation. This could happen in very different situations; it can happen in a serious illness as well as during very successful meditation. This times can lead to desirable results, as well as to a challenging situation that in which the said person cannot cope with what he is facing.
Although Bardo is meant originally to be the time between death and a new life, it could also be understood as a transitory state of consciousness which is between two states of consciousness; the one which was and that which could be.
Beyond the orthodox approach to the idea of consciousness, there are less material and intellectual approaches and they are dealing in the possibility of transition from a low level of consciousness to a higher one. Already in the book: ‘principles of psychology”, by william james, there he writes about partially awake states of consciousness, like in hypnosis or after taking psychedelic drugs, or in a state that could exist in meditation or a prayer.
Here are two relevant quotes:
Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.
Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.
In spiritual literature the term Bardo is connected to consciousness states and it is referred to as a state of ambiguity or disorientation of rituals (in general: a shamanic ritual), in which the participants are no longer in the consciousness of before the ritual but they are not yet in the consciousness state that they will be in when the ritual is over.
For the trained and ready person – the Bardo is a great opportunity for release, for a transadental experience, whereas for the one who did not go through a preparatory process of consciousness training – this state of transition could be perceived as a dangerous or place of dilution.
In fact this is the real situation of the human, living between past and future, but the rational and material approach do not allow him to experience it as a transitory state for then it is being perceived as an unsafe, and therefore the existing approach to the present ‘wants’ to solidify it. The solidification is done by action, any action and the more – the better, only not to experience the original void of the raw state of the present, before it went through the technological dominant conditioning.
Bardo refers more generally to these moments when gaps appear, interrupting the continuity that we otherwise project onto our lives.
But what is much less available, is writings about the in between state between lower and higher states of consciousness.
This state in known in various names in different contexts:
Bardo, Liminal state, transitory state, no man’s land, limbo, ‘a time out of time’. Some will be elaborated and some could be studied further.
When we refer to states of consciousness, we can liken the consciousness state of a person that did some inner work but did not yet reach completion – to a seed which is no longer in a raw, static, frozen state but it did not grow roots and a stem – this is an intermediate state in which inner changes are happening but without external changes yet.
In the meaning of the seed analogy the seed could be understood as
the situation of the ego. The ego is in a prefabricated condition
before the creation of a permanent self.
In order for the seed to stop being static and that life process will start to happen in him – he needs to pass from being hard to being soft, to go through a process of melting, and this happens to it when put in an environment of humidity and various minerals.
If the seed could feel and have self-consciousness, he would experience this humidity as an attack on his life, an attack which comes to destroy him, but if his consciousness was not enough to grasp that in him there is a blue print of a plant, he would feel that his Shure and solid world is falling apart.
Without the dissolution of the old self (the seed) the change in the state of consciousness would not happen.
The Bardo state in this, is the dismembering of the ego without being yet in the safe worlds of higher consciousness. This could be frightening and bring about a wish to go back.
If he ‘succeeds’ in returning to the known and secure ego he indeed will be ‘saved’, but with it his ability to be born to the next level – will be blocked.
The problem in this is the identification with the ego as the only self. People experience this ‘bottle neck’, this birth channel, of what is called in relevant literature, as Spiritual crisis.
It is known in literature about the kundalini experience that practitioners experience this liminal state as a great crisis it is known as, Kundalini crisis, they experience most difficult physical and psychological symptoms.
A person who wrote about this Kundalini crisis is Gopi Krishna in his book: “Kundalini The Evolutionary Enregy in man”.