Welcome to the Course
Andrew Holececk explains the benefits of spiritual preparation for death, and how he became interested in this profound topic.
Welcome to Living and Dying: Navigating the Bardos!
Bardo is a Tibetan word that means "gap" or "transition." It can refer to any ending or change in life but often describes the journey that we make after death, before taking a new birth. This online course is about a Buddhist approach to the end of life but it will appeal to anyone interested in a non-materialistic understanding of what happens after we die.
It takes courage to explore the consequences of impermanence and our own mortality. However, more and more people are waking up to the possibilities opened up by the Tibetan Buddhist teachings on the bardos. Through Buddhist wisdom and meditation practices we can radically transform our relationship to death, and so live with greater ease and happiness. But this course is not just for you. It will also benefit those near to you by giving you the strength of mind to help others die, and to face any unwanted circumstance with confidence.
This is a 6-unit course. You are entirely free to study at your own pace. Each lesson will offer roughly 90 minutes of material to work with, including video teachings, prompts for reflection, optional quizzes, and a communal discussion board. There will also be suggested take-home practices, including guided meditations, for you to explore. You will retain access to the course for as long as you need.
Unit 1 | The Death Principle
Everything ends. We know this abstractly but tend to brush it under the carpet in our day-to-day lives. However, ignoring impermanence means that we miss out on a greater freedom: the freedom to live with ease and face endings big and small with equanimity. In this unit, Andrew shows us a healthier way of relating to our time-bound lives.
Unit 2 | The Importance of View
How we look at the world changes what we see. "View" is the starting place and it is a strong determinant of our success. Here, Andrew describes useful viewpoints for understanding life and death. We'll see that how we live affects our experience of the bardos after death.
Unit 3 | The Three Bodies
What is it that continues after we die? Andrew explains the Tibetan Buddhist teaching on the three bodies. These are increasingly subtle manifestations that can cause us varying degrees of suffering should we cling to them. Fortunately, as our experience and acceptance of impermanence deepen, we cling less and less.
Unit 4 | Transcending Fear
Fear is perhaps the central obstacle on the spiritual path. We fear endings. We fear death. Counter-intuitively, we need to understand and befriend fear if we are to transcend it. Andrew helps us to understand the origins of fear and how to keep it close to us so that we can learn and benefit from it, without being ruled by it.
Unit 5 | The Death of Death: Emptiness
The true release of fear and suffering is to realize first-hand that there is no-one who suffers, no-one who dies. Understanding these teachings at the deepest level brings a radical openness and connectedness that leaves us at peace with whatever happens. In meditation, Andrew points the way towards an awareness that can rely on itself instead of any external form.
Unit 6 | Voluntary Rebirth
The bardo teachings are not just about death, they are equally about birth. Endings always lead to a beginning. The knowledge and experiential understanding we have accumulated so far gives us an opportunity to shape our futures with wisdom and compassion. We'll learn powerful techniques that prepare us for death, understand more about who and what we are, and what awaits us after the end.