The bardo is an element of Tibetan mysticism; the Bardo Thodol, or Tibetan Book of the Dead, describes the series of stages through which a spirit must pass to be reborn, and the appropriate rituals to be performed by the living and the dead at each step. Although it is singular, one often sees references to the "first bardo," the "second bardo," and so on.
"The Bardo is a bridge between death and rebirth. It is a span of various states the mind travels through to achieve rebirth, from the starting point of death." (From the no-longer-extant WWW site "Bardo Thodol" [http://don.skidmore.edu/academics/linrothe/bardo/Dead.html], which also contained a short bibliography on the subject.)
The first Bardo, "the Chikhai, where the individual experiences the dharmakaya (the body of Buddha at one with the uncreated void)" ibid., is encountered immediately after death; it is my conceit that the state of mind one sometimes reaches in the early-morning hours is a prefiguring of the first bardo, and that therefore, borrowing a practice from computational mathematics, the numbering system for the Bardo should start at 0.
This file last updated (inactive URL noted) 7/25/1997.
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