Letting Grow teachings, season 1

Tibetan rebirth teachings, life transitions, and more

Transitions and Tibetan Buddhist teachings on death and rebirth

Transitions often take us through loss and darkness, but we come out the other side transformed and more in touch with our light.  In this episode, I briefly outline the four bardo (in-between) states that the Tibetan Buddhist tradition uses to talk about death and rebirth, the biggest transition we face.  And I introduce the structure of transitions, a way of applying these teachings to the “deaths and rebirths” we all experience within this lifetime.

Why the death process is so inspiring (hint: buddha nature is involved)

Tibetan teachings on the death process are profoundly inspiring.  Yes, it’s a sad and possibly scary time of letting go of our ordinary sense of self – but what really dies is everything except our true self, which gets to shine through clearly into our experience.

The bardo of clear light: our true nature shines through

The bardo of clear light is the one moment in our life-death-and-rebirth cycle when we naturally have a direct experience of our true nature. It’s a moment we can prepare for during this lifetime by getting in the habit of noticing and appreciating the glimpses we get of our deeper nature. (Meditation helps with that.  ;)

The bardo state between death and rebirth

Today’s episode is all about the most famous part of the death and rebirth cycle in Tibetan Buddhism: the bardo between death and rebirth, also called the bardo of becoming. We start with a summary of the traditional description of this bardo state, in which we’re said to have a mental body. We start off still connected with the identity of the life that just finished and end up connecting with the life we’re about to begin. This bardo is said to be a dreamlike state in which we’re blown around by our thoughts and emotions (which sounds like daily life sometimes, but moreso).

The bardo of this life: making good use of our time

In traditional Tibetan Buddhist teachings on the bardo states, the bardo of this life is the first one mentioned. It’s the one we’re in now, and it’s the best time to train our minds. But in the process of transitions, it’s the part of the process that seems to get the least attention, maybe because we never seem to realize we were in a stable period of life until that ends. So we’ve left it until last on this podcast because often we appreciate this lifetime – or a stable period in it – most fully only after it’s over. We’ve talked and imagined our way through the bardos of death, clear light, and becoming now (see previous episodes if you missed those talks), so hopefully we can appreciate the bardo of this life properly.

Six realms of rebirth, part 1

Welcome to today's episode on the six realms of rebirth. We'll talk about the six realms: hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, demi-gods, and gods -- don't worry, I'll explain them all in detail. And for those who don't believe in literal rebirth, in the next episode (available now) we'll also talk about how to take these teachings metaphorically and the ways reflecting on them can enrich your spiritual practice.

The six realms of rebirth in this lifetime: part 2

Welcome to the second episode on the Buddhist teachings about the six realms that we can take rebirth into. If you missed the first part and you’re not familiar with these teachings, please listen to that first. In this episode, we’re going to talk about taking these rebirths metaphorically and  how contemplating these different kinds of births can benefit us in this lifetime.

Living better by making friends with change

Confession time: I don’t actually do well with change or transitions. (That’s part of the reason I’m spending so much time on how to navigate them better.) I recorded this episode from a hotel room in Houston the night before I flew out to Canada and a day or two before Texas – where I was staying – thawed out from our historic ice storm. So this episode ended up being more personal than usual, and it’s also got more background noise than usual.
In it, I talked about two ways to make friends with change in general: by noticing how we relate to it in daily life and by using meditation practice to focus on our relationship to change.

Western authors on transitions

This show has focused so far on Tibetan teachings on death and rebirth, but there are also Western authors who have been thinking and writing about transitions and have their own model to offer. In this episode I'll share four of my Western favorites, their three-stage model of transitions, and some of the recent research on how people go through transitions (in this lifetime). At the end of the day, these authors make a great conversation partner, so to speak, with Tibetan teachings on literal rebirth.

Thanos: balancing birth and death

This week's episode is my reflections on one of the most famous Marvel villains, Thanos, who I think must have been inspired by the Greek god of death, Thanatos. Today’s episode is about the creative tension between Thanatos and Eros, god of love and sex, and the dynamic balance life strikes between birth and death, creation and destruction. Whether you’re a Marvel fan or not, I hope this episode offers you an opportunity to reflect on your own relationship with endings and the ways recognizing impermanence can actually help us live better lives.

Leaving the bardo of covid

Today’s episode is the next to last in season one of Letting Grow, and today I’m finally talking about our rebirth out of the covid bardo state we’ve all been in. No matter how long it takes for us all to move on to some kind of new normal, eventually we’ll be able to meet friends and go to the gym and so many of the things we used to do. If we stop now and reflect on what we've learned about ourselves and what matters to us, it’ll help us to live more intentionally in the “after times,” not just try to get back to the “before times.”