Image source: New York Tibetan Art Studio & Rubin Museum of Art
A Tibetan word that translates literally to 'intermediate state,' Bardo is commonly used to refer to the time between death and rebirth. The Bardo Thodol, known in English as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, translates to "Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State." While Bardo often does refer to the 'interim' period between passing from one life to another, it is also indicative of other intermediate states. The Bardo Thodol outlines these 6 different intermediary states, which include the bardo of meditation, the bardo of dreaming and the bardo of dying.
Whatever your level of engagement with Buddhism, it's spectrum of artwork offers visualization of religious and spiritual concepts, shows a range of admirable craftmanship and can simply mystify and awe the mind with it's boldness, subtleties and spectacular and strange sceneries.
The Rubin Museum of Art has been a well known purveyor of art from the Himalaya's as well as a dedicated sponsor for many educational activities related to Buddhism. Until September of this year, the Rubin Museum is hosting the exhibit: Bardo-Tibetan Art of the Afterlife. I had the opportunity to visit the museum once when I was in NYC and it was stunning. Artwork can be one of the most enjoyable and interesting ways to share culture and aspects of spiritual philosophy with the community. This is a world class institution, sharing in the qualities of the exquisiteness of the art it shows.