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The Tibetan Book of the Dead

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  1,287 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
This book is the first English language translation of the famous Tibetan death text, The Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Intermediate State. Also known as the Bardo Thodol which means "liberation by hearing on the after death plane" (Bardo: after death plane, Thodol or Thotrol: liberation by hearing), it was originally written in the Tibetan language and is meant to ...more
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Published September 13th 2010 by Summum (first published 1350)
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Erik Graff
Jun 06, 2015 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those really serious about Tibetan Buddhism
Recommended to Erik by: Michael Miley
Shelves: religion
The YMCA in Park Ridge obtained a new youth counselor after my graduation from Maine South H.S. Jim H. had become a bit of a celebrity amongst our friends, "the Hippies of Hodges Park", by the time of one of my visits home from Grinnell College and we became acquainted. During the summer of 1971 he was reassigned to a YMCA camp in the border lakes region of Northern Minnesota, Camp Wakonda on Lake Vermillion, and had given a general invitation to any and all of us to visit him up there.

Thus it h
Robert Geer
Jun 22, 2012 Robert Geer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: America
Recommended to Robert by: Jeremy Murphy
Pg 224-225
There being no two such things as object of meditation and meditator, if by those who practice or do not practice meditation the meditator of meditation be sought and not found, thereupon the goal of the meditation is reached and also the end of the meditation itself.
There being no two such things as meditation and object of meditation, there is no need to fall under the sway of deeply obscuring Ignorance; for, as the result of meditation upon the unmodified quiescence of mind, the no
Ron Grunberg
Feb 03, 2008 Ron Grunberg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
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 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 ...more
Martin Zook
Nov 17, 2013 Martin Zook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
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
Jessica Evans
Jul 04, 2016 Jessica Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good stuff. Very in depth. This is a lot richer than the chaos magick last rites, which are thematically quite similar but with a western symbol-logic and anti-essentialist. It's also a lot longer. I feel kind of bad that I didn't read a longer version of this text with commentary, especially since other versions include commentary by Jung, who I appreciate a good deal, but I always feel like other people's interpretations get between me and the text. I dunno if I have a natural leg up because I ...more
Stephen Simpson
Jun 11, 2016 Stephen Simpson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
How do you really review religious books? I suppose some people probably do so according to how well it represents or reflects their own views. But, realistically, concepts like plot and pacing make no sense here.

If you're not interested in Buddhism, and especially the more mystical varieties practiced in Tibet, I'm not sure there's much here for you (maybe if you're interested in religious, anthropological, or death rituals). In any case, it's a pretty fascinating look at what Tibet Buddhists
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 ...more
May 09, 2008 tatiana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been intrigued but the mystery and mysticism surrounding this book since I was a young girl, but i can glady say that i've finally crossed it off my list of "occult books to read before i die"....and good riddance! i blame much of it on this edition's clunky and otherwise dry-as-a-bone translation, but there was very little about it that could hold my interest for more than a few minutes at a time (which makes for good bathroom reading, i guess? eesh).
Diane Klaver
SYNOPSIS: The Tibetan Book of the Dead outlines how the soul/ consciousness journeys though the next plane of existence after death and how the deceased can achieve enlightenment, thereby escaping the cycle of samsara (or suffering).
ACCESSIBILITY: I am not a student of religion/ philosophy/ psychology, and therefore found some of the introductory chapters (which examine the symbolism, esoteric significance, historical context etc) hard to unpack and comprehend.
However, The Book of the Dead itsel
May 20, 2014 Sevenponds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Art of Dying is quite as important as the Art of Living,” writes editor W.Y. Evans-Wentz in his preface to The Tibetan Book of the Dead. An ancient Buddhist text, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or the Bardo Thödol, is a guide for the deceased as he or she journeys through the 49 days after the moment of death—the interval of time between death and rebirth. During this time, the deceased is instructed to resist the temptations of the material world, or Sangsara, in order to achieve enlightenm ...more
Contrail Storey
I read this the summer after my freshman year of college and I can honestly say that this book enhanced the way that I viewed life, perception, and the afterlife. A vivid concept of how the soul could transition from one state to another formed, and I saw the body as a component, or a glove of the higher self to use while visiting Earth. Easily one of my all-time favorites!
Jun 14, 2007 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The foreword(s) in this book are particularly compelling, giving good insight into the author and his sensibilities. Being Christian, I drew parallels to my own religion, something I have always done but enjoyed seeing written out. It makes you wonder about all religious texts, and is something I would recommend to expand your mind.
Timo Walters
Aug 17, 2009 Timo Walters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is somewhat difficult to read. Reading this book changed the way I view death and life, not in that it educated me, but that it gave me a vastly different point of view than what I was raised with in a traditional christian home. A hard read with good insight to the foundation beliefs of Tibetan Buddhism.
I don't know what I was expecting from this book. I'd heard a lot of like minded people say it was one of the first books to get them started into spiritual stuff like metaphysics, afterlife, and what not. But I found it really dated. To my mind it sounded awfully Victorian, and preachy. I also kept saying, 'this is obviously written in a certain context for a certain group of people in a certain time'. I am not sure the average modern person would find it useful. Maybe it's just this edition or ...more
Jonathan Warner
This was very slow going. It was quite informative, but also very heavy. This is largely because a lot was pulled as direct translations from original texts. It took me about 50 bathroom trips to finish this.
Oct 23, 2007 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read, I like the Evans-Wentz interpretation best of the 3 or 4 I've read
Aug 22, 2015 Edward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a newer translation of a book which has been popularly known as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" in the West for the better part of a century now. The translator/editor takes great pains to explain the inaccuracy of this title and other parts of older translations, based mostly on the misunderstandings of well-meaning Western scholars. Also included is a summary of Tibetan history and culture as it relates to Buddhism, as well as numerous background notes on Buddhist terms and principles.

May 20, 2008 Carolyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "Lunch Matters" aficionados and their ignorant hosts
Recommended to Carolyn by: C.G. Jung Foundation
I've been producing a film series on Wednesday afternoons at the Rubin Museum of Art called "Lunch Matters." We show documentaries followed by moderated discussions with folks versed in the subject matter of the film. The series is co-presented with the C.G. Jung Foundation, really wonderful people who say things like "Carl Jung popularized the mandala in the West" and "it's always a battle between the power principle and the ego."

Because my working knowledge of Jung comes from a high school cl
John Walters
Mar 16, 2015 John Walters rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too dense! There were too many alien references. Even then, there was no transferable ideas or data. To me it might as well have been on high level language computer programming. I read the first quarter, and then gave up, skipping pages and chapters. It was not for me!
Jorge Moreira
Aug 06, 2016 Jorge Moreira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the first translation available in the West I guess, from the beginning of the 20th century. A western point of view though, some points should to be understood by practice and experience not merely by scholar knowledge.
May 14, 2016 Kristina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I bought it at a book fair because it was cheap and I didn't have any idea that it's basically a book with prayers for when someone dies.
May 26, 2016 Cat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Translation is sometimes unbearably dry in some places, but surprisingly poetic in others.
Nadine de Jong
Dec 16, 2015 Nadine de Jong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glad to have read it now after some understanding of the path
Gregory Peters
Jan 01, 2015 Gregory Peters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the greatest. A favorite that I return to often
Unbelievably intense.
Mar 03, 2010 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was interested in reading about the Tibetan Buddhist perception of the after life. The best part of this book, frankly, was the introduction which talked extensively about the basis of reincarnation and the many cultures that believed in it (ancient Greeks and Egyptians for example). The actual text of the Tibetan tradition (which they read to their dead over a period of 14 days) is bizarre and difficult to understand. Some of it is 'way out there'. It left me with some real questions about th ...more
May 13, 2015 congrats rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Woah dude.
David Tan
Oct 30, 2010 David Tan is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
One of the four books that pretty much introduced Tibetan Buddhism, Native Religions and culture to the west, W. Y. Evans-Wentz is still one of the best experts on the subject. What I found interesting is Donald S. Lopez, Jr.'s introduction that also gives a history of the various introductions and incarnations of the books through out the 20th cent..
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Karma Lingpa was a 14th Century Tibetan Buddhist master best known as the tertön ("treasure revealer") who discovered the Bardo Tödröl (Eng: "Liberation Through Hearing in the Intermediate State" Tib: བར་དོ་ཐོས་གྲོལ), said to have been written and hidden by the great Indian adept Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th Century.
More about Karma-glin-pa...

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“Our past thinking has determined our present status, and our present thinking will determine our future status; for man is what man thinks.” 1 likes
“Thine own consciousness, not formed into anything, in reality void, and the intellect, shining and blissful, --these two,-- are inseparable. The union of them is the Dharma-Kāya state of Perfect Enlightenment.” 0 likes
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