I did not pick this book up and decided to read it. The book drew me to it when I most needed it. I was troubled by the illness and possible death of a loved one, and this book demanded my attention and in return offered the best answers, the most thought-provoking arguments, and the most soothing advice for my death-troubled mind. You don't have to be a buddhist to enjoy this book, or even to gain insight from its arguments. Philip Kapleau makes a great job in offering a complete perspective on Death, Dying, and Bereavement. This book is divided into four parts. Part one deals with Death, and it includes, among other things, anecdotes about the death of famous historical figures (Gautama the Buddha, Socrates, Sri Ramana Maharshi, etc.), an analysis on why we fear death, and an interesting, albeit brief, look at the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Part two deals with dying, and it is a compassionate explanation of how our views of death affect the way we will undergo the inevitable process of dying. It shows how this process is only as painful or liberating as we make it, through our views, our beliefs, and our hopes and fears. Part three explains karma. Like I said, you don't have to be buddhist (or of any particular religion, at that), and if there's anything about this book that is outstanding, it is this part. Rational, logical, well-argued, and convincing, it wraps up the discussion on "Existential Aspects of Death" from part one, and leaves the reader with a strange assuredness about the nature of change and renewal inherent to life. Part four looks at rebirth. the last two parts of the book require an open mind if you do not belive/are not familiar with eastern beliefs, but if that is the case, I know of no better place to start learning about this subject than here. Philip Kapleau writes compassionately, from the heart, such way that the reader is never challenged in his beliefs, yet at the same time he drives his point home with unerring accuracy, like a Zen Archer. This book changed my life and the way I look at death and what lies beyond, and I cannot recommend it enough.