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The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo (Shambhala Classics)

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In this classic scripture of Tibetan Buddhism—traditionally read aloud to the dying to help them attain liberation—death and rebirth are seen as a process that provides an opportunity to recognize the true nature of mind. This translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead emphasizes the practical advice that the book offers to the living. The insightful commentary by Chögyam Trungp In this classic scripture of Tibetan Buddhism—traditionally read aloud to the dying to help them attain liberation—death and rebirth are seen as a process that provides an opportunity to recognize the true nature of mind. This translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead emphasizes the practical advice that the book offers to the living. The insightful commentary by Chögyam Trungpa, written in clear, concise language, explains what the text teaches us about human psychology. This book will be of interest to people concerned with death and dying, as well as those who seek greater spiritual understanding in everyday life.


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In this classic scripture of Tibetan Buddhism—traditionally read aloud to the dying to help them attain liberation—death and rebirth are seen as a process that provides an opportunity to recognize the true nature of mind. This translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead emphasizes the practical advice that the book offers to the living. The insightful commentary by Chögyam Trungp In this classic scripture of Tibetan Buddhism—traditionally read aloud to the dying to help them attain liberation—death and rebirth are seen as a process that provides an opportunity to recognize the true nature of mind. This translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead emphasizes the practical advice that the book offers to the living. The insightful commentary by Chögyam Trungpa, written in clear, concise language, explains what the text teaches us about human psychology. This book will be of interest to people concerned with death and dying, as well as those who seek greater spiritual understanding in everyday life.

30 review for The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo (Shambhala Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    mike

    i was about 3/4 done with this book when my car was stolen, the book was in the car. i got the car back two days later, but no tibetan book of the dead. hopefully some car thief will have greater understanding on his journey through the next bardo.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    “You’ve really gotta read this book. Ram Dass says it’s SO Far Out!” ´Far Out’ was a much-bandied-about-by-hippies catchphrase in 1971, and was likewise prized among flower children like my friend Maria - who said those words to me back then. But, Ram WHO? Ram Dass, aka Professor Richard Alpert, had - like his buddy, Professor Timothy Leary - “tuned in, turned on and dropped out.” And, not only that, but Leary had sworn this holy Tibetan book exactly mirrored the process of “turning on”, hence its e “You’ve really gotta read this book. Ram Dass says it’s SO Far Out!” ´Far Out’ was a much-bandied-about-by-hippies catchphrase in 1971, and was likewise prized among flower children like my friend Maria - who said those words to me back then. But, Ram WHO? Ram Dass, aka Professor Richard Alpert, had - like his buddy, Professor Timothy Leary - “tuned in, turned on and dropped out.” And, not only that, but Leary had sworn this holy Tibetan book exactly mirrored the process of “turning on”, hence its enduring sacred value, and had written his own cult classic on how to emulate these ‘high’ sages. In five easy hits. Really? You mean all the great religions are derived from drug experiences? Ahem... Such, anyway, was the prevailing “ineffable teaching” of these gurus. And that, along with a buck fifty, may have even bought them a cup of coffee to wake up with. *** Well, you may have noticed that I’m reviewing the Evans-Wertz translation. For me that’s the one to get if you, in any way, see the process of dying as a journey to the beyond. It’s that for me, in the traditional Christian sense of Jeremy Taylor’s Holy Living and Dying. And this book is obviously not Christian. So why am I reviewing it? Because the peak experience of the Tibetan Book of the Dead is the vision of the Clear Light. That’s it, nothing more or less. But so FIRMLY embedded in the Western Christian Tradition is that vision - not only nowadays, where we see it recorded in NDE statements by unwillingly resuscitated patients, but in past great lines from our literary canon, like Shelley’s “white radiance of Eternity” or Vaughan’s “I saw Eternity the other night, like a great ring of endless light” - that it’s a part of us. So the Clear Light experience resonates with us Westerners. As perhaps it should: for Carl Jung wrote that this, and the entire work that we’re speaking of, is somehow embedded in our Collective Unconscious. And Jung even says its reverse sequence mirrors the process of regaining our true Selves. Now, that’s as it may be, but for me the clincher is eschatological. This book, in fact, like Christianity, insists on us living a Good Life in order to gain the Ultimate Clear Light experience. If you want to go to Heaven, they say, you’ve GOTTA be good! And here we all thought that was too corny. It’s not. It’s dead serious. And that’s exactly what Jeremy Taylor says... And the Catholics among us see in the Clear Light the classically Thomistic Vision of God. So where are the dead NOW? As T.S. Eliot replies: I am here, there, or elsewhere - In my Beginning. *** But to answer you, dear sometime-girlfriend Maria, back in 1971, I would now have to say: “Yep. This book may be Far out. But it’s no piece of cake. And it’s NOT too far out for me to give it my Best Shot, as my Life’s Principal Quest! Getting there is not so difficult, Maria - IF YOU’RE GOOD.” So keep your drugs, Ram Dass. I’ll take plain, ordinary virtue: The good, old-fashioned, Tried and True way to Heaven.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    I have read the Tibetan book of the Dead, but I haven't. To read it once, isn't to read it at all. It takes time, effort, and a particular frame of mind, to truly get to grips with the text. You can take from it what you need, or take all of it, and make of it what you will. I find it very difficult to write a 'review' of the Tibetan Book of the dead. Listen to 'Tomorrow Never Knows' by The Beatles. The choral sounds in this music, reflect (only a little) the spirit of this masterpiece. I have read the Tibetan book of the Dead, but I haven't. To read it once, isn't to read it at all. It takes time, effort, and a particular frame of mind, to truly get to grips with the text. You can take from it what you need, or take all of it, and make of it what you will. I find it very difficult to write a 'review' of the Tibetan Book of the dead. Listen to 'Tomorrow Never Knows' by The Beatles. The choral sounds in this music, reflect (only a little) the spirit of this masterpiece.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    I quite enjoyed this book. Better than I expected, and actually easy to read. Although I'm pretty doubtful that these things exactly happen to you after you die (just how exactly does the author know about all these intricate details!), I still believe in a lot of the concepts it presents, not only for thinking about post-death, but also in this lifetime. The worst thing to fear is fear itself! And your after-life is dictated by the state of your mind in the present life. If you are an angry or I quite enjoyed this book. Better than I expected, and actually easy to read. Although I'm pretty doubtful that these things exactly happen to you after you die (just how exactly does the author know about all these intricate details!), I still believe in a lot of the concepts it presents, not only for thinking about post-death, but also in this lifetime. The worst thing to fear is fear itself! And your after-life is dictated by the state of your mind in the present life. If you are an angry or jealous person, you will be haunted by the projections of your mind's anger and jealousy after you die. So, think happy thoughts & be at peace. If that really is the case (your current mindset affects your afterlife), it is interesting to ponder whether a peaceful/happy murderer (if such a thing could exist) would suffer in the after-life. Or what would happen to the person (true story) who got in a car accident, damaged their brain, and then was so convinced that his parents were robots that he decapitated his dad to search for the battery. Also interesting to think about religious extremists who believe they are doing the nobel thing. However I think most, if not all, 'sane' people that are willing to go to the length of murder must have a very conflicted and tortured mind. Also interesting to think about in the context of dreams. If you are dreaming and afraid, it is the perfect time to try and remember that everything you see if just a projection of your mind, you have no body, no reflection, no shadow. If you do remember to think this in your dreams, it would probably result in frequent lucid dreams, since I imagine you'd then realize you were dreaming (or dead). All in all, def a cool book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I wanted to understand this book but I didn’t despite my best efforts. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually I got very little from it and feel sheepish that I genuinely didn’t get the philosophy/spirituality that was attempted to be conveyed to me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vaishali

    The how-to guide for transiting from this life to the next. In Tibet, the bridge in between is termed "bardo". Very useful for folks like me seeking precision in bardo-crossing :) Interestingly, the scores of steps on this pathway take upto 5 days. The book was thus compiled so that a family member/priest could direct the spirit through the bardo's confusion. Pure, compassionate, and fearless thoughts are the key to successful transit. Surprisingly, many Hindu deities are mentioned, though Buddhis The how-to guide for transiting from this life to the next. In Tibet, the bridge in between is termed "bardo". Very useful for folks like me seeking precision in bardo-crossing :) Interestingly, the scores of steps on this pathway take upto 5 days. The book was thus compiled so that a family member/priest could direct the spirit through the bardo's confusion. Pure, compassionate, and fearless thoughts are the key to successful transit. Surprisingly, many Hindu deities are mentioned, though Buddhism is nontheistic and Tibet's language has no Sanskrit base. Circa 28 goddesses represent various emotions one experiences on the bardo. I hope future scientific research sheds light on this ancient map. Notes: ------------- Six types of bardos : 1. birth 2. dreams 3. meditation 4. samadhi 5. dharmata 6. becoming You will experience 3 states within a bardo : 1. Moment before death - full of various luminosities 2. Dharmata - full of peacefulness 3. Becoming The newly dead are addressed as "Oh Child of Noble Family", then given instructions, including: ---------------------------------- "At this time your pleasure and pain are dependent on your own karma." "The good conscious within you will collect all your good actions like white pebbles, and the bad conscious within you will collect all your evil actions like black pebbles. You will say, 'I have not sinned!' Then the Lord of Death will say: "I will look into the mirror of Karma". All your sins and virtues will appear, clearly and distinctly. The pebbles do not lie, and do not fear the Lord of Death." "The six realms of light will shine, and the one that shines most brightly due to your previous life's karma is the one you'll be born into." (SIx hues of Soft Light:) 1. white........... of the gods 2. red.............. of the jealous gods 3. blue............. of human beings 4. green.......... of the animals 5. yellow......... of the hungry ghosts 6. smoky......... of hell-beings "Those who have not meditated properly will be confused, and quickly look for a womb to re-enter." "Listen without distraction. Focus one-pointedly and try to close the womb of karma." "Think: Now when the bardo of becoming dawns upon me, I will concentrate my mind one-pointedly, strive to prolong the results of good karma, close the womb entrance and think of resistance. This is the time when perseverance and pure thought are needed. Do not forget, do not be distracted. Now is the time which is the dividing line between going up or going down. Whatever you concentrate on will come about, so do not think of evil actions. Remember the teachings. Do not forget, do not be distracted. By slipping into laziness, even for a moment, you will suffer forever. Now is the time whereby if you concentrate one-pointedly, you will be happy forever." .

  7. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    "Then the Lord of Death will drag you by a rope tied round your neck, and cut off your head, tear out your heart, pull out your entrails, lick your brains, drink your blood, eat your flesh and gnaw your bones; but you cannot die, so even though your body is cut into pieces you will recover." If Buddhism was represented by a bunch of high school cliques, Tibetan Buddhism would be the hardcore bad-asses everyone’s afraid of. This book is really hard to read simply because of what it’s about: your ex "Then the Lord of Death will drag you by a rope tied round your neck, and cut off your head, tear out your heart, pull out your entrails, lick your brains, drink your blood, eat your flesh and gnaw your bones; but you cannot die, so even though your body is cut into pieces you will recover." If Buddhism was represented by a bunch of high school cliques, Tibetan Buddhism would be the hardcore bad-asses everyone’s afraid of. This book is really hard to read simply because of what it’s about: your experiences after death. To boil it down greatly, after you die, there are a bunch of days (49, in fact) when a bunch of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas come to you, and you have multiple, multiple chances to be instantly liberated. The book constantly says, "And even who is skeptic or stupid or really, just the dumbest person on the planet will recognize the truth and be liberated" which makes me feel kinda bad because if you’re reading this, you weren’t liberated! You were either sucked into the human realm or you went all 49 days wandering around, scared out of your wits, until finally you were forced to pick a womb and be born. (And even then, there are five ways to 'close the womb' so that you would be enlightened and yet, you still couldn’t get it right!) The greatest thing about this is their view on enlightenment. There’s none of this accept-me-and-you’re-saved… even if a skeptic is read to from the Bardo Thodol, they are saved, because the Bardo Thodol contains the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth just is, and if you encounter it, you are automatically taken in by it, due to the nature of the truth itself. It still doesn’t make your experiences after death any less scary, though! (Take a deep breath… they’re just your mindful projections… and you’re dead so they can’t hurt you!)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Moquin

    This was one of the books on my Book Bucket List, and I'm glad I finally read it, but overall I was disappointed. I disagreed with the teachings of this book. First, there is the assumption that being reborn into a new life is a bad thing, but some may find being in the cycle of sangsara to be enlightenment within itself. Secondly, the book tells the deceased that the Peaceful and Wrathful deities are not real, and come from within the deceased's own mind, but then goes on to describe the deitie This was one of the books on my Book Bucket List, and I'm glad I finally read it, but overall I was disappointed. I disagreed with the teachings of this book. First, there is the assumption that being reborn into a new life is a bad thing, but some may find being in the cycle of sangsara to be enlightenment within itself. Secondly, the book tells the deceased that the Peaceful and Wrathful deities are not real, and come from within the deceased's own mind, but then goes on to describe the deities in detail. If these deities are of the deceased's own imagination, then how can they describe exactly what they look like? Wouldn't they be imagined by the individual, and each person would have their own version of them? Not everyone would find an image of something with three faces and four feet wielding a blood-filled skull to be frightening... This book instructs people to let go of their egos, but telling someone what to see and feel is pretty egotistical in itself. Lastly, there was the inherent misogyny. An example: From the prayer "The Path of Good Wishes which Protecteth from Fear in the Bardo" - "Obtaining for myself the body of a male, which is better" There is a fatal flaw in everyone praying to be reborn as a male. What if all of the prayers were answered? No one will be reborn into anything; with no women around, there would be no such thing as birth. Clearly, this isn't much better than Christianity. Men are still being revered as the higher class of being. I'll probably spend the rest of my life trying to figure out why men feel the need to treat women this way...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    The introduction and the commentary served as a great setup for the text itself, though still didn't prepare me for what I was in for. At first it seemed very different from other Buddhist texts I've read. It definitely didn't have the almost warm-fuzzy, reassuring feeling I get when reading Thich Nhat Hanh's books. But then I was reading through, starting to think the ideas were getting repetitive - I had an epiphany. It's personal and detailed, but it blew open a part of mind. The psychologica The introduction and the commentary served as a great setup for the text itself, though still didn't prepare me for what I was in for. At first it seemed very different from other Buddhist texts I've read. It definitely didn't have the almost warm-fuzzy, reassuring feeling I get when reading Thich Nhat Hanh's books. But then I was reading through, starting to think the ideas were getting repetitive - I had an epiphany. It's personal and detailed, but it blew open a part of mind. The psychological metaphors offered in the book are truly transformative. I finished reading it yesterday, and I still don't think it's done sinking in.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marla

    I want Goodreads to have an "unable to read" selection. How I looked forward to reading these books. So many people spoke so highly of these books, how they devoured them. I now doubt the veracity of their claims. This book had a prologue, a forward, an index to the plates, a commentary...all taking up the first 150 pages of the book. Then the book. The first 10 pages made Alan Watts read like Dr. Seuss. Unreadable. Incredibly dated. Borders on mysticism and New Age (although it predates the New I want Goodreads to have an "unable to read" selection. How I looked forward to reading these books. So many people spoke so highly of these books, how they devoured them. I now doubt the veracity of their claims. This book had a prologue, a forward, an index to the plates, a commentary...all taking up the first 150 pages of the book. Then the book. The first 10 pages made Alan Watts read like Dr. Seuss. Unreadable. Incredibly dated. Borders on mysticism and New Age (although it predates the New Age era). And not for the feint of heart. With so many accessible books on Buddhism, these are going into my never to be read pile. No rating, I couldn't finish.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Little Miss Esoteric

    I really don't want to write reviews anymore, providing data for amazon, but I seriously wish I'd read this book earlier. Puts metaphysical concepts into context. Also, I'm really not interested in nit picking over the merit of alternate translations. It's clear enough, no matter which way it's told. I really don't want to write reviews anymore, providing data for amazon, but I seriously wish I'd read this book earlier. Puts metaphysical concepts into context. Also, I'm really not interested in nit picking over the merit of alternate translations. It's clear enough, no matter which way it's told.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Edward Michael

    the essential preparation to death. Every spiritual seeker must try to understand this extraordinary wisdom and knowledge

  13. 4 out of 5

    SusanAhh

    Who are you really? I have both the kindle and hardback copy of this ancient text. The hardback book is a beautiful presentation... a jewel on your bookshelf. The text increased my understanding of the Divine. It is not the easiest of reads. It takes a bit of work to decipher the meaning for yourself. For me... It was a revelation that affirmed my belief in God, Love and the Light, and the nature of "the self" beyond the illusion we call reality. Who are you really? I have both the kindle and hardback copy of this ancient text. The hardback book is a beautiful presentation... a jewel on your bookshelf. The text increased my understanding of the Divine. It is not the easiest of reads. It takes a bit of work to decipher the meaning for yourself. For me... It was a revelation that affirmed my belief in God, Love and the Light, and the nature of "the self" beyond the illusion we call reality.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Whew! This one took a while. Thurman's articulation (and sometimes analysis) of the art of death preparation through Tibetan Buddhism is patiently layered. His writing is accessible, if complex, and his translation work, though wordy and abstract, is still digestible given range of abstraction he must have waded through. THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD chronicles the steps necessary to authentically aid an individual's encounters with the many between states of existence. There are two critical facet Whew! This one took a while. Thurman's articulation (and sometimes analysis) of the art of death preparation through Tibetan Buddhism is patiently layered. His writing is accessible, if complex, and his translation work, though wordy and abstract, is still digestible given range of abstraction he must have waded through. THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD chronicles the steps necessary to authentically aid an individual's encounters with the many between states of existence. There are two critical facets of this book that make it a dynamic text for Buddhism research. (1) Thurman contextualizes and prefaces his translation of Padma Sambhava's treasure texts with an exquisite historical observation of the cultural importance/ fascination/ understanding of "the phenomena of dying," as the Dalai Lama states in the foreward. What is the role of dying/death among Tibetans and Tibetan civilization? Thurman details his research prior to his translation work. (2) Thurman provides a running commentary of sorts, a parallel breakdown of every single prayer, verse, appeal, poem, and daily instruction. You don't realize the value of his hard work until later on, when the verses become redundant and the prayer descriptions become increasingly abstract. It can be difficult to follow, reading the translation as is; fortunately, Thurman takes the time to provide his interpretation of the material as well. The book is not without some areas of question. Thurman's apparent disdain for Darwinian, evolutionary psychology, and natural selection was handled rather funnily; a backhanded complement to theories that "need some revision," he says. I additionally wish he did more to tie together his incredible writings on nothingness and voidness to his translation work; his understanding of these concepts is expansive and his writings bring tremendous clarity, but he doesn't reference back to them as often as would have been most helpful. Lastly, as much as I loved his work on the role of death/dying in Buddhist culture through the centuries, I always wish there was more (not that it was particularly necessary . . . it's just what I think he does best).

  15. 4 out of 5

    D.L. Luke

    a must if you have any interest to what begins of your mind, body and soul when you die

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ron Grunberg

    What book do I remember reading with more fascination, more dread, more mind-boggling interest? The book takes you on a journey, from the Tibetan perspective, past death, to the journey, according to them, each of us is to take after our lives here. There are long poetic passages, songs, as it were, to be sung by those watching over your body during the aftermath of your life, to help guide you into the nettlesome spiritual world that awaits. Are you prepared? Do you want to be--in case? Well, t What book do I remember reading with more fascination, more dread, more mind-boggling interest? The book takes you on a journey, from the Tibetan perspective, past death, to the journey, according to them, each of us is to take after our lives here. There are long poetic passages, songs, as it were, to be sung by those watching over your body during the aftermath of your life, to help guide you into the nettlesome spiritual world that awaits. Are you prepared? Do you want to be--in case? Well, this book is a good guide. Why? Not just for the "mumbo jumbo" poetry, but Evans-Wentz, a Brit who spent forever in Tibet with monks, writes clearly about their customs and presents, with astute understanding, a synopsis of the byways to a safe passage, through the dark unknown...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I have some basic knowledge of Buddhism and was hoping that this would provide more insight into this belief system by translating and explaining its main texts. Sadly while this did provide a translation of the Book of the Dead it didn't provide much in the way of explanation. And the translation itself came across old fashioned and out dated (it was very Old English), which made it all the more difficult to read. I'm glad I've read it but feel that this could've been much better. I have some basic knowledge of Buddhism and was hoping that this would provide more insight into this belief system by translating and explaining its main texts. Sadly while this did provide a translation of the Book of the Dead it didn't provide much in the way of explanation. And the translation itself came across old fashioned and out dated (it was very Old English), which made it all the more difficult to read. I'm glad I've read it but feel that this could've been much better.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Em

    I'm glad I took the opportunity to learn more about Tibetan Buddhist culture and dogma. The writing was often artful and definitely induced a near-meditative state, especially when reading its musings on loss and mortality. I learned a lot from this book about Tibetan mythology. However, I hadn't realized to what extent Tibetan Buddhism encouraged acceptance of culpability--the sort of self-blame one can find in texts discussing original sin in Christian works as well. To some extent this tarnish I'm glad I took the opportunity to learn more about Tibetan Buddhist culture and dogma. The writing was often artful and definitely induced a near-meditative state, especially when reading its musings on loss and mortality. I learned a lot from this book about Tibetan mythology. However, I hadn't realized to what extent Tibetan Buddhism encouraged acceptance of culpability--the sort of self-blame one can find in texts discussing original sin in Christian works as well. To some extent this tarnished my view of Buddhism as a religion of perfect acceptance and kindness, but while I didn't adore the premise of some of the beliefs, I feel that I gained a greater appreciation for the conclusions and for the advice it gives. In summary: A relaxing read that encourages appreciation of life and acceptance of death. Not entirely what I was expecting, but eloquent and artful.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Yoder

    It is a rather odd experience to write a book review on a religious/spiritual text. Bible: "I feel the multiple authors of this odd collection of short stories, sometimes connected, sometimes not, should have been given more credit. Plus I got bogged down in all the begats." Koran: "Inspirational text, although I feel I should have more knowledge of the culture from which it sprung before I pass judgement on this passionate work." Et cetera. Anyway, even given that I am not a Buddhist this book t It is a rather odd experience to write a book review on a religious/spiritual text. Bible: "I feel the multiple authors of this odd collection of short stories, sometimes connected, sometimes not, should have been given more credit. Plus I got bogged down in all the begats." Koran: "Inspirational text, although I feel I should have more knowledge of the culture from which it sprung before I pass judgement on this passionate work." Et cetera. Anyway, even given that I am not a Buddhist this book touched something in me. Or should I say I found myself interconnected beyond this earthly samsara to fantastical realms? I can't get too florid here. I'm a bit too tired for that. It is a comfort to encounter, even from my Western mind which is rather ignorant of Buddhism & Hinduism, a broader structure encompassing the death process as well as the methods by which one can either prevent reincarnation (so as to be liberated from the suffering inherent in an embodied existence) or get reincarnated into the best situation possible. Perhaps I wasn't paying attention in Sunday school decades ago but I never received word of any comparable structure in another belief system. I don't know, perhaps you, the reader, are immortal, but I am not, so this book is a comfort to me even if it isn't provable. There's a process out there--sometimes circular, sometimes a loop then an ascension--and we may, if we were to believe, chant, and pray, participating in that process.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Richard S

    Transmigrate my soul to steal another child's body. The Tibetans are kind of a weird decadent religion devoted to occult meditation. Enlightenment as a means to immortality. There is nothing here unless you've devoted your life to going down this odd path, but who would ever want to? All of the great yogis and masters can't stop the Sri Lanka bombings. Sorry, it's selfish and bogus. Transmigrate my soul to steal another child's body. The Tibetans are kind of a weird decadent religion devoted to occult meditation. Enlightenment as a means to immortality. There is nothing here unless you've devoted your life to going down this odd path, but who would ever want to? All of the great yogis and masters can't stop the Sri Lanka bombings. Sorry, it's selfish and bogus.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David

    I made it to 40%, and very uncharacteristically, decided to give up. It is very esoteric. I’m not gaining anything from it. At this point I am just forcing myself to read it. Considering I started it in early October of last year I suppose I should have read the writing on the wall. Transitioning from the ‘theory’ to the actual prayers themselves and their explanations was the final straw, so to speak. I simply can’t comprehend it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jason Harris

    It was a very educational read. Rated M15+ for descriptions of violence. It clarified for me that no enlightened Westerner can reasonably defend Buddhist thought. The two are incompatible.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chris Perry

    Giving this a rating would be obnoxiously stupid. People should read it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    RDX for the imagination. Mind is all.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Imaginarian

    Unless you're a card carrying member of the undead, you might think that The Tibetan Book of the Dead or The After-death Experiences on the Bardo Plane has little to offer you. However, upon my second (now adult) reading of this translation, I see many applications of the TBD for the living as well. Those of us on this side of the grass who practice lucid dreaming, astral traveling, and Samadhi meditation- as well as those of us who have an intense yen to conquer our shadows and transcend dualit Unless you're a card carrying member of the undead, you might think that The Tibetan Book of the Dead or The After-death Experiences on the Bardo Plane has little to offer you. However, upon my second (now adult) reading of this translation, I see many applications of the TBD for the living as well. Those of us on this side of the grass who practice lucid dreaming, astral traveling, and Samadhi meditation- as well as those of us who have an intense yen to conquer our shadows and transcend dualities- will probably find something of value in this book... provided that we are able to understand the highly phantasmagorical imagery of dreams and poetry, as the text is heavily steeped in this kind of symbolism and written in the loveliest of archaic, flowery prose. Put succinctly by Carl Jung in the Psychological Commentary, the TBD is “a book of instructions for the dead and dying.” The book advocates that upon dying, we should strive to: 1) maintain our consciousness through the rift in much the same way that we are capable of doing now while falling into lucid or astral sleep, 2) maintain a state of mind that is as close to Samadhi that we can get so that when we are shown the “Fundamental Clear Light” upon death, we are neither awed nor terrified, because then, through our equanimity, we will be able to 3) recognize that we are one with the Light, and that any images we see (positive or negative) are simply mental constructs of our own. By accomplishing the above feats of spiritual agility, according to the TBD, we will be rewarded with liberation at one of the many levels of the afterlife. Though the TBD does not provide instructions on the prerequisite dreamwork or meditation, it does paint the successive stages of the afterlife in vivid- and sometimes gory- detail. The imagery is, of course, Buddhist in nature, although Jung states that other interpretations are also valid. In the same way we would interpret any symbolism, we must look into it and decide what it means for us subjectively, based upon our own conceptual framework. To fail to personalize our understanding of this book's symbolism and to take it at face value diminishes this book's profundity to the level of a cheap comic, complete with 58 blood-drinking goddesses and a Lord of Death who hacks you up and chews up your bits while you stand by in agony. Rather, we must attempt to see the 58 goddesses as 58 things that terrify us right now, 58 things that enrage us right now, or 58 things divert our attention away from our real purpose for living, which is to discover that we're already at one with the Light. We should know that if we don't confront these shadows before we die, it is these shadows- and not some random otherworldly beings- that the TBD indicates we will be confronted with after death. The above instance is just one wave in a sea of many waves that we readers must chart our own course through in order to more fully comprehend the TBD. This book is definitely a keeper for me, as it is one I would like to read every few years or so for new insights. The set-up for this edition, though, is strange in that the majority of the book is comprised of Jung's Commentary, an Introductory Foreword, an overreaching Foreword written by someone who forgot that other people would have to read it someday, and other sundries. The text itself is only little more than 100 pages. It's good to read all of the parts in order, however, as each builds upon the last. I actually enjoyed the flowery prose of the text; and this “flowery prose of the text” might be the best that can be done, as according to the book, many shades of original meaning were already lost once the text was pulled from its Tibetan tongue into archaic English. To render this text into modern English might kill it (although I intend to seek out other translations for comparison). I think the supplementary material- being that it comprises most of the book- should be completely updated, however. I usually enjoy Jung's writing, but I found his preoccupation in the Commentary with discussing the afterlife in a “reverse manner” to be more detrimental than helpful to my overall understanding of the text... and the Foreword could benefit from a modern English face-lift by a less somnambulant writer who knows how to stay on point. 4.5 stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Martin Zook

    This might come in useful, if you're going to die; given that it is a manual on dying used by people who have studied death and its processes long before those of us in the west climbed down out of the trees. Humor aside, this manual typically was/is used by an adept to assist the being shuffling out of the body and into the next series of bardoes (suspensions) on the way either to nirvana, or rebirth/reincarntation. I came across this particular edition - some swear by others - as a result of my This might come in useful, if you're going to die; given that it is a manual on dying used by people who have studied death and its processes long before those of us in the west climbed down out of the trees. Humor aside, this manual typically was/is used by an adept to assist the being shuffling out of the body and into the next series of bardoes (suspensions) on the way either to nirvana, or rebirth/reincarntation. I came across this particular edition - some swear by others - as a result of my first post on the Internet in a chat-room that dealt with near death experiences on the original Salon site. My own experience was considerably different that the ones dealing with lights, tunnels, and relatives, so I posted it. Someone who became a close disembodied friend for a while suggested I pick this up and get myself to a meditation center. I suggest this version because of the intro by Carl Gustav Jung, which will help westerners make sense of this otherwise nonsensical manual (ok, maybe not as nonsensical as some of the manuals I read for electronic gadgets, but still far out stuff). A correction: The B&N site synopsis says the book describes the passage of "the soul." It isn't. There is no soul in Buddhism, but that re-cognition is difficult for the western mind to wrap itself around. Secondly, and more importantly, birth and death are actually inseparable, a unity, so what a westerner would regard as the "after life" in the cycle of birth and death becomes the process dominated by birth, not death; and what the west regards as the living side of a linear equation is the process where dying eventually gains the upper hand before sending the being on its way to rebirth, or reincarnation. Make sense? Padmasambhava Other versions (generally they include more narrative and commentary about the journey through the bardoes) include: Anonymous Francesca Fremantle(no photo available) Padmasambhava

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    It seems a little unfair to rate an ancient treasure written by the great Padmasambhava. What kind of jerk gives Manchu Picchu three stars? I chose this version because earlier versions are said to have some pretty significant flaws in the translation, and this one was done with the blessing and help of Chogyal Norbu, the main living Dogzchen rippoche and Tibetan scholar. The text is clear, easy to understand, and flows well. The introductions in the beginning are helpful to set the historical a It seems a little unfair to rate an ancient treasure written by the great Padmasambhava. What kind of jerk gives Manchu Picchu three stars? I chose this version because earlier versions are said to have some pretty significant flaws in the translation, and this one was done with the blessing and help of Chogyal Norbu, the main living Dogzchen rippoche and Tibetan scholar. The text is clear, easy to understand, and flows well. The introductions in the beginning are helpful to set the historical and contextual stage of the text. The text itself is somewhat of a Lonely Planet guide if you or someone you know are relocating to being dead. The text gives directions for what to chant, what do to when you encounter the deities, how to manage your fear and what loved ones can do to help the process. It explains the six states of existence and how to not be reborn into a hell dimension and the specific directions to help the dead find liberation from cyclical existence. This a dense read and though they recommend you read it daily, so that when death comes it will be at the forefront of your mind, I was only able to pick out a few things that were immediately of use. The first was recognizing the six intermediate states of existence: rebirth, living, dreaming, meditation, dying, and reality. Dreaming, as it turns out, is an opportunity to experience the clear light, so I need to work on that one a little bit, and meditation is the place where I practice tapping into my true nature so I can bring it into the world. This I will also need to practice. I also loved the two chants at the end: The Invocation That Protects from Fear of the Intermediate States, and The Root Verses of the Six Intermediate States. These are something I could read every day and will add to my meditation practice. I am treating this first read as a beginning, not an end, and look forward to what I pick up the next go round.

  28. 4 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

    3 1/2 stars

  29. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Obler

    I'm finding Chapter One, An Outline of Tibetan History and Buddhism in Summary, very helpful. I began practicing meditation and reading Buddhist-based self-help books five years ago, but have lacked a clear broad picture of where I'm located in relation to the history of the practice; and I've lacked an understanding of how the evolution of the practice allowed it to reach me. Not that it's been needed for me to know the scope of Buddhist teachings or Tibetan history to benefit from studying the I'm finding Chapter One, An Outline of Tibetan History and Buddhism in Summary, very helpful. I began practicing meditation and reading Buddhist-based self-help books five years ago, but have lacked a clear broad picture of where I'm located in relation to the history of the practice; and I've lacked an understanding of how the evolution of the practice allowed it to reach me. Not that it's been needed for me to know the scope of Buddhist teachings or Tibetan history to benefit from studying the Dharma and from sitting. I have benefited without a full course of study. Nor have I felt the need to identify outwardly as a Buddhist in any way that would require a more thorough knowledge than I have. Nevertheless, Thurman's writing is very clear and precise and thorough, and I now know about Shakyamuni Buddha, the main principles of the practice, how it differs from world religions, and I'm especially glad to have a clear picture of the events leading to China's occupation of Tibet. I haven't even begun the main body of the historical text. I'm sure Thurman's intro to it will prepare me well for understanding it. The quality of the introduction is not diminished by my sitting near Mr. Thurman at a vocal concert by a Tibetan singer in which he was acknowledged in the audience by the performer, a friend or acquaintance of his, yet muttered rudely throughout the show and also munched loudly on snacks.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jody Mena

    Fascinating and thought provoking. It is a very different picture of cosmology than I have ever considered. I am quite certain I did not understand everything here, but the commentaries were incredibly helpful. It is definitely not the sort of thing you can simply read once, I can tell it would require many years of study to truly grasp everything presented here. This structure of psychology and cosmology is a remarkable way to look at the world and at the human experience of life and death. I w Fascinating and thought provoking. It is a very different picture of cosmology than I have ever considered. I am quite certain I did not understand everything here, but the commentaries were incredibly helpful. It is definitely not the sort of thing you can simply read once, I can tell it would require many years of study to truly grasp everything presented here. This structure of psychology and cosmology is a remarkable way to look at the world and at the human experience of life and death. I was really grateful for the opportunity to look into a culture and religion so foreign to my own.

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