on October 31, 2003
If you look at death as a transition state from where you are now, to where "you" will be when you have exceeded your body's limits, then this book provides a guide to understanding some of that journey. This book provides one with a new viewpoint on how life and death are connected. I found it fascinating and very helpful in answering many of my own questions about what we can expect in the dying process. The level of detail is quite remarkable and can only be attributed to the few enlightened beings that have experienced some of this process and found a way to share that experience with those of us still here. The scary part is how reading this can bring back memories of actually being in the "between" state and those memories are what help validate the book's message. If you only read one book this lifetime, perhaps this should be the one.
on February 4, 2003
After I had a dream I saw myself dying in a very specific way, I looked for an answer and I have been recommended this book. I thought it would take me forever to read it but it took me only two days to go through it. Based on the advice of my mom who is an advanced buddhist student, I read it without trying to analyse it. And it was great. The book is easy to read, it's like a story and you just keep on reading. I learned a lot about the Bardo and had a great explanation for my dream. It's a great book to start your Buddhist teachings with. Everything makes sense. It's been 2 weeks I read it and still all the stories are coming back into my head. I am still digesting this wonderful book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the process of dying and living.
on January 8, 2001
This book is like an armour for those like minded people that want a deeper understanding of life and the nature of mind. Sogyal Rinpoche takes lengths to explain in detailed chapters, the MEANING and PURPOSE of life, death and dying; how we can use our true nature of mind to overcome difficulties, and use compassion and meditation to become enlightened in this life. This is a serious book for those that want to follow the spiritual path, of believing and listening to the inner self and overcoming obstacles by healing one's self first. Sogyal Rinpoche has a lot of wisdom to teach and share through his words, and you will find that the end of the last page, you had everything to gain.
on March 13, 2004
All of the above reviews that I have sampled, are falling into a trap many 'western' philosophers get caught in. The psychologist Jung saw only the exoteric meaning. This is not a book on the act of actually dying physically, it is all a metaphor to confuse the non-initiates. The book is about ego-loss, specifically 'non-game ectasy' ego-loss. It is the death dying and rebirth of the ego. The 3 bardo's just represent states that are commonly encountered in the journey. The goal is to die, transcend briefly, and then the ego is reborn and the choice lies in ascending to a higher state (permanent growth) or to go to a lower level (or the same/similiar). That is the esoteric meaning, the entire book is metaphorical, if you aren't aquainted with altered consciousness then you will be lost. Useful in psychadelic ego-loss as well.
The book itself is an excellent guide, I recommend strongly to pick up a version of The book of the dead if you seek consciousness alteration, and/or ego-loss.
on October 1, 2009
Using anecdotes and stories and the inspiration of Tibetan Buddhism, Sogyul writes a manual for life and death, providing a clear and inspiring introduction to the practice of meditation, to the nature of mind, to karma and rebirth, and to compassionate love and care for the dying, and ultimately how to face our own death. Focusing on death will lead to a much richer life.
One of the few books I have read many times, it provides understanding and approaches to dealing with the illness and death of loved ones. I found the writing style clear and understandable. I especially liked the step-by-step meditation exercises.
on December 20, 2002
After reading other reviews, I feel it might help to say this:
Yes, there is quite a substantial amount of Tibetan ritual encased in this book. But that shouldn't be a surprise, or a hindrance - it IS the "TIBETAN Book of Living and Dying", and not the "Generically Believable For Everyone, Book of Living And Dying".
With that in mind, I loved reading this book. From the first page, I was drawn into a world where compassion and mindfulness reign, and it's these tools that will help us face the inevitable truth that we *are* all going to die, at some point.
Rinpoche skillfully shares his own wisdom, that of many other masters, and anecdotal evidence of what may happen when we physically die, and the stages we may go through during the process.
Topics discussed include the Bardo states, reincarnation, the concept of karma, and fear of the unknown. The book is very readable, and covers the material therein with sensitivity and warmth. At times, it may be difficult to the average Western mind to grasp the concepts of such things are reincarnation - but as Buddha himself did advise, the goal is to read, absorb and take what YOU find important from the lesson...not to read blindly and accept everything blindly.
To anyone even vaguely interested in Buddhism, death and dying or simply becoming more aware of their own self, this book is an invaluable addition to your library.
Truly a classic.
on September 19, 2002
Whenever I read a book, I generally use highlighter and underliner to mark the sentences and words that convey the true meaning and essence of what the author wants to say. While reading The Tibetan Book of Living And Dying, I had to stop using the highlighter after a few pages only as the most of the words on each page were worthy of being highlighted. Indeed, the author has said so much precious on every page that a reader must read and re-read the book and with every reading she/he gets more and more knowing.The subject of death has been most puzzling and perplexing to humankind since the time immemorial. The Eastern way of looking at the death as only a 'transition' is explained by the author in a profoundly simple manner. The book certainly helps one to understand the true meaning of the phenomena called death. This understanding helps one to reduce the irrational fear of death. From the lives of the great men and women we know that those who 'lived' a life can only meet the 'death' with equnimity. Thus the author has first taught the art of 'living'. It is only through right type of living that we can 'live' the death also.
I suggest that this book be read by all the Buddhist as well as by non buddhists also. Every one who reads it will find something for him/her.
I salute Sogyal Rinpoche for giving us a wonderful gift of THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING.
on August 31, 2002
This book fully captures the essence of Tibetan Buddhism. I don't claim to be an authority on the subject, but I was born into a Buddhist household that has remained faithful and reverent to both Mahayana and Hiyana traditions of Buddhism. From the information I've had passed on to me by both family and Tibetan Buddhist clergy, this book has never been contradictory to anything lecture I've heard. In fact, everybody seems to recommend it enthusiastically!
Essentially, according to Tibetan Buddhism, the purpose of living is to cultivate the mind and purify the body and soul to prepare for death. Westerners may, at first glance, find this philosophy morbid. However, we must remember that reincarnation is integral to Buddhist text (and most world religions, for that matter; the 'one life' theory is actually relatively new). Death is explained as a transitional period, like the end of a chapter to a book. To waste away ones life is like wasting away all your money without care for the future. Basically, this philosophy heavily emphasizes living in the present with thoughtfulness and offers a plethora of Buddhist insight into life and death. It also stresses the urgency of cultivation in a day and age when we disregard life, old age, and disease as trivial matters and nothing that science cannot combat.
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is written by a Rinpoche. For those who are not familiar with Tibetan titles, a Lama is essentially a monk who has abandond wordly comforts for a spiritual pursuit, and a Rinpoche is a recognized reincarnation of an esteemed Lama.
If you are a Buddhist, I highly recommend this book. It is enlightening, insightful, and an absolute must in any Buddhist library. Whether you follow the traditions of Chinese Buddhism, Zen or Chan, take the Amitabha or Guan Yin approach, etc., as a fellow Buddhist to another, you should not go without having this book. It's available in Chinese, as well, for the Buddhists out there who are more adept at Chinese than English.
For seekers, this is a wonderful guide, as well. The best part with any book as wonderful as this is that everytime you read it, you'll find new insight in the words. Beginners and established Buddhists alike will take in much insight.
I also highly recommend this to Buddhists who are unfamiliar with the Tibetan traditions. The Tibetan texts will open a whole new door for you. I know from personal experience, because my mother (who is the spiritual leader of the family) was originally a student of Chinese Buddhism, but after reading this book, our entire family discovered a whole other arena of philosophies that have done nothing but enrich our practices.
So whether you're already a Buddhist wishing to broaden your knowledge, a Buddhist who would like new material to absorb, or a seeker who is just curious of the fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism, this book is definitely a must.
on April 21, 2001
I sometimes find it hard to speak after reading some chapters in Sogyal Rinpoche's beautiful guide for living and dying with grace. I count myself among the most fortunate beings to be able to not only read his words but also to be able to study with him each week. There isn't anything that he reveals to us that won't touch the heart and make one's life more sharply focused. There isn't one among us who hasn't been touched by death, sickness or suffering in someway and his immense compassion, humor and clarity helps to ease much of our pain.
Rinpoche tells it like "it is" in words that soothe, annoy, inflame, calm or caress our bleeding hearts. He guides us through life, its beginnings and its end with a subtle and astounding clarity and healing quality that is lacking in our everyday experiences. Death becomes less fearful and life is illuminated as the joy it can be. One wonders how one ever became so enmeshed in ignorance and "forgot" the beauty of ourselves. It becomes less of a chore or trial to forget the "self" and get lost in what it means to be human. The development of compassion, patience and wisdom is all one can hear through these words. Placing oneself in Rinpoche's care is like a joyful surrender and he skillfully guides you to the ultimate blessings of the "nature of mind" and "ones heart".
Anyone who has read the "Tibetan Book of the Dead" and been puzzled or confused needs only to spend time with Rinpoche's illuminating words for clarification. As all great Masters, he claims to practice not enough, know very little and is one who is still learning more. However, whatever he knows, has learned and practiced is meritoriously given to us with a sincere and loving motive. Read it, read it again and then some more. Write down your thoughts, examine your feelings and then read it again.
Life will never be the same nor will you want it to be. Discover the joy, bliss, songs of the heart, smiles and spontaneous laughter hidden within you, while finding all the wisdom, compassion, patience and love for others you may have hidden from yourself. Rinpoche is food for your hungry heart! Read this book 100 times as each introduction is more revealing. If a chapter challenges you, accept it as a challenge and read it again, again and again! Take this classic to work , on vacation, while traveling but mostly take it into your heart...you will not ever be disappointed! Confused by the review? Then read the book again.
on April 18, 2001
This book should be read by or to everyone at some point in their lives. It not is not just for the buddhist. As His Holiness, the Dalia Lama explains, no matter what religion you practice the goal is the same: happiness. This book can be an inspiration at all times in life. Once you have read it through once, it is organized in such a way, so one can go back and read certain sections to help along the way. Sogyal Rinpoche captures the essence of his purpose of creating the book when he writes: "to learn how to die, is to learn how to live." That simple statement is a social commentary on the development of modern society and the direction it is heading in. The ageing and dying are quickly isolated and doctors are rarely educated in emotional or spiritual care. Sogyal Rinpoche's proposes a new attidute to those who are in a stage that we all will reach at some point. His beautiful writing style and comforting compassion radiates from the pages themselves. I do not associate myself with any one religion, but consider myself a wanderer following my own road in search for answers, for all those who feel the same, this book can illuminate some of the darkness that surrounds us all who have not yet awakened.