Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen":
THE BUDDHIST CONCEPTION OF THE INTERMEDIATE STATE


('Saddharma-smrityupasthana Sutra,' from chapter XXXIV)

The Chinese translation of this material (from which the present English translation was made) dates from ca. A.D. 542.

When a human being dies and is going to be reincarnated as a human being . . . when the time of his death is approaching he sees these signs: he sees a great rocky mountain lowering above him like a shadow. He thinks to himself, 'The mountain might fall down on top of me,' and he makes a gesture with his hand as though to ward off this mountain. His brothers and kinsmen and neighbours see him do this; but to them it seems that he is simply pushing out his hand into space. Presently the mountain seems to be made of white cloth and he clambers up this cloth. Then it seems to be made of red cloth. Finally, as the time of his death approaches he sees a bright light, and being unaccustomed to it at the time of his death he is perplexed and confused. He sees all sorts of things such as are seen in dreams, because his mind is confused. He sees his (future) father and mother making love, and seeing them a thought crosses his mind, a perversity (viparyasa) arises in him. If he is going to be reborn as a man he sees himself making love with his mother and being hindered by his father; or if he is going to be reborn as a woman, he sees himself making love with his father and being hindered by his mother. It is at that moment that the Intermediate Existence is destroyed and life and consciousness arise and causality begins once more to work. It is like the imprint made by a die; the die is then destroyed but the pattern has been imprinted.


Translation by Arthur Waley, in Conze et al, Buddhist Texts through the Ages (Oxford: Bruno Cassirer (Publishers) Ltd., 1954)

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