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Bardo Thodol

Overview  of Bardo  Thodol: Teaching the Liminal State Using Second Life

Bardo Thodol is a Second Life role-playing game based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The simulation is based on a liminal state between life and death. At this time, only a virtual world allows for the visualization and representation asked of the person going through this state. A virtual environment can create this experience for the students and allow them to interact, problem solve and reflect in ways not possible from watching a video.  Participants play, reflect and discuss the experience and how to use immersive environments educationally.

This role-play game is actually a problem solving learning environment. Faculty and instructional designers can see how this game allows the learner to interact, problem solve and reflect. Problem solving in authentic contexts outside of virtual worlds is usually reserved for business classes not philosophy, religious studies and humanities classes. At the end of the simulation, the participant can reflect on their own strategy.

Students go through the stages of this simulation as the person passing through death to rebirth.  At the end of the simulation there is a debriefing and discussion of the Tibetan Book of Dead with the students. 

While this simulation was originally developed for an Eastern Religions class, it has been used for humanities, sociology and English composition courses. The intended audience is educators from diverse content areas. If you or your students would like to run through the simulation please contact Kae at

Here’s a YouTube video and yes we have to make a real Machinima soon.