Experiments have been done with some ten thousand people; America has spent much money on it. People have been paid to sleep in laboratories. They sell their sleep, because they have to be awakened from their sleep again and again during the night. Certain wires and instruments are attached to them while they sleep. After experimenting on ten thousand people, they have come to the conclusion that people who say that they don’t dream may be telling the truth as far as they can see, but in reality, it is not so. Someone who says that he dreams occasionally is also not right, and those who say that they only dream towards the morning hours are also not right. But still, there is some truth in what they are saying, because they only remember the dream they have in the morning just before they wake up.
I have told you all this so that you will be able to understand the Tibetan experiment of Bardo. Tibet has done some significant work on man’s dreams; perhaps no other country on Earth has done as much work in this area. They have discovered the secret that makes it possible for a person to die in the dream state: then he will enter his reincarnation with all the memories of his previous lifetime. And someone who can retain all the memories of his previous life in his new incarnation is transformed, because then he will be aware that he is repeating all the same stupidities that he has already done before. Again the same passions, again the same desires, again the same chasing – and there was no great outcome from all this living. The previous lifetime was wasted in chasing and chasing – and in the end, death was the only accomplishment. Nothing more came out of chasing after all those passions and desires.
If a person can retain the memory of his previous life, then the new life will be of a totally different quality. The very quality of his life will be transformed. Such a man will not be able to chase after those same desires because to him, death will always seem to be standing beside him. And running after the same desires will mean that he is going to waste his life again – and again it will end only with death. No, this time he will be able to do something else. The effort to transform his life will become more intense. The whole experiment of Bardo is done only for this reason: to help to make the coming life more intense.
The experiment of Bardo is very scientific. When a person is dying, efforts are made to keep him awake through perfumes, through light, music, chanting and through singing devotional songs. He is not allowed to fall asleep. The moment he starts feeling drowsy, the sutras of the Bardo Thodol – The Tibetan Book of the Dead, are chanted into his ear.
And the sutras of Bardo are helpful for creating dreams. For instance, the dying person will be asked to feel that he is separating from this body. He has just fallen into drowsiness and he is being told that now he has become separate from his body, that death has already happened to him and he is proceeding on his journey. The path of his journey is described to him: how there are trees on both sides of the path, how birds are flying around the path – all these descriptions are spoken into his ears.