Francesca Fremantle, who many years ago helped produce a translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead
, has now taken it upon herself to unravel its complexities. Fortunately, she begins with the basic tenets of Buddhism, including karma and reincarnation, then gradually moves out to more complicated notions such as bardo
(in-between state), the nonmaterial side of the elements, the ego, and psychological imprisonment. Before we even get to the text itself, we understand that as much as The Tibetan Book of the Dead
is about the death experience, it also symbolizes the processes of life. Only while living can we prepare for death. In the final third of Luminous Emptiness
, Fremantle begins to follow the step-by-step processes of the after-death experience, explaining difficult notions and adding background information. Anyone serious about using The Tibetan Book of the Dead
will find Luminous Emptiness
the next best thing to having one's own personal guru. --Brian Bruya
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
In 1975, Shambhala published The Tibetan Book of the Dead, whose actual name is less catchy: The Great Liberation through Hearing during the Immediate State. (This misnomer originated with W.Y. Evans-Wentz's initial English translation in 1927, piggy-backing on The Egyptian Book of the Dead's popularity at that time.) The 1975 version of Padmasambhava's original eighth-century text, translated by Fremantle and Chegyam Trungpa, strengthened a bridge between Tibetan Buddhism and the West, and it stills sells briskly. To pay tribute to her teacher Trungpa, Fremantle offers this commentary to expound upon and clarify the spiritual classic. Her solo work here is a blend of high intellectualism, readability and spiritual gifts that successfully enhance the understanding of the bardos, or stages, between life and death. The commentary's first part examines the text's foundations, illuminating its rich concepts, while the second applies this clarified knowledge to newly translated excerpts. As Trungpa once observed, the text could just as easily be called The Tibetan Book of Birth; it is indeed a manual about death, the "process of dissolution, but also the process of coming into being, and these two processes are continually at work in every moment of life." Fremantle wrote this for "everyone who feels attracted to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, whether they are Buddhist or not." Except for the most dedicated students, this is not a book for beginners, but it will provide expert assistance for those who yearn to contemplate Tibetan Buddhism's deeper fathoms. (Dec.)Forecast: Fremantle's association with the 1975 translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and with Chegyam Trungpa, should help this become an enduring backlist title for Shambhala.
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