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The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  26,025 ratings  ·  745 reviews
A newly revised and updated edition of the internationally bestselling spiritual classic, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche, is the ultimate introduction to Tibetan Buddhist wisdom. An enlightening, inspiring, and comforting manual for life and death that the New York Times calls, “The Tibetan equivalent of [Dante’s] The Divine Comedy,” this ...more
Paperback, Revised and Updated Edition, 464 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 1992)
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Vivien Ni Dhuinn
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after my 11year old son was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I needed to find some spiritual form of understanding as to what was happening.

The first section of the book deals with how to live well while the second part of the book deals with how to die well. We all acknowledge that it is important to have guidelines as to how to live our life as a compassionate and caring being. Very rarely do we consider that it is equally important to know how to deal with death, be it our own
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those pondering THE question
Shelves: spiritual
I have been reading this book since I got it in 2002. I read, put it down and pick it up again in 3-6 months. It puts into words the most difficult concepts, yet it is so deep in meanings that it takes awhile for me to digest. I started this book while in a job that I dealt with patients who were living yet quickly dying - it helped me deal with my questions of death. And with dealing with those questions I learned about life. I am now 3/4 done. It's ironic that when I pick it up to read, there ...more
Sean Barrs
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is a manual on how to deal with death, but I would argue it has far more to do with life and the living. It is about understanding death and how it will, ultimately, come for all of us. We have one life so we should live it as fully as possible, being mindful in every single situation. It’s not just about how to deal with the consequences of loss, but it’s about understanding how to deal with life. This book gave me the kick I needed and helped propel me out ...more
I'll admit I haven't finsihed it's one of those books you read a little in, ponder it, leave the book on the bedside and then read some more in later. ...more
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Erica by: mom
Shelves: non-fiction, dharma
I'm on page 134.... reading slowly.

Every time I read a paragraph in this book, I can feel my pulse slow, & my heart open. I drop back into myself and remember why I'm here. I remember to be a human being & not just a human doing. This slowing has happened enough that now even just looking at the book across the room has a similar effect.

My mother loaned me her copy -- not sure she's gonna get it back soon as it is such a powerful reminder for me.
Dec 26, 2010 rated it liked it
First, this is not a direct translation of the Bardo Thodol, commonly known in the West as the 'Tibetan Book of Living & Dying.' Rather it is a broad introduction to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs including the author's interpretation of the teachings contained in the Bardo Thodol. The validity of Sogyal's teachings are generally accepted within the Tibetan Buddhist community. Sogyal Rinpoche received teachings from an early age by highly respected teachers such as Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, and D ...more
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book with a passion. The Essential Phowa practice has sustained me through so much loss and I have practiced it countless times over many years.
So many sad losses - beautiful A'ine who was only 17 and sent a butterfly as she continued on her journey. My soul sister, Margaret, how I miss her.
I was so privileged to be able to practice this for my beloved mum while she was dying - the most profoundly spiritual experience which I treasure more than words can say.
The most poignant tim
Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book and took from it what I needed and left the weird stuff for others. What I took was significant and very helpful, and I keep this book around to re-read those passages. I believe anyone can find something in this book useful to them personally, but probably not all of it. Prepare to be frightened when you come across the writing that speaks to you, most likely at the start. If you are broken and as spiritually wounded as I was when I began this book, also prepare to be overwhelm ...more
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
The author, Sogyal Rinpoche, is a prolific Buddhist Teacher as well as the founder of many Buddhist Centers worldwide, including Lerab Ling in the South of France, which I think is his best-known retreat center.

Anyway, to quote wikipedia:

"In 1983, Rinpoche participated in the ‘New Dimensions in Death and Dying’ conference in California. This brought Rinpoche in touch with the work of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Professor Kenneth Ring in the fields of hospice care and near-death research."

Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing

I first read the so-called ‘Tibetan Book of the Dead’, in the acclaimed 1927 Evans-Wentz translation, some twenty years ago and found it pretty heavy going. At the same time, I appreciated that it was packed with the wisdom of the ages and wished that it could have been more accessible, rather than reading like an early twentieth century German academic tract by a von-someone at Heidelberg University. So after stumbling upon Rinpoche’s book recently I was delighted to find that it was written in
Bridget Petrella
This book will change your life. This acclaimed spiritual masterpiece is widely regarded as one of the most complete and authoritative presentations of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings ever written. A manual for life and death and a magnificent source of sacred inspiration from the heart of the Tibetan tradition, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying provides a lucid and inspiring introduction to the practice of meditation, to the nature of mind, to karma and rebirth, to compassionate love and care ...more
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Though I am finished with this book, it is not going back on its shelf. I'm placing it right next to my meditation spot and intend to put its words to use in my practice. And when the time comes that I or a loved one has the opportunity to prepare for death, I again expect to keep this book close at hand.

I read this book right after walking away from a serious car accident with only bruises. My years of yoga training served me well during the accident and its aftermath, but I knew that it was ti
May 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is a beautiful book, full of truth and wisdom. I have been reading it off and on for the past couple of years and finally finished it. What I really love about this book is that it puts the ancient teachings of Buddha in a modern context and addresses many alarming problems with modern society that are leading our world toward destruction. One of these problems is that Western society has dismissed spirituality in favor of a "see to believe" attitude based on ...more
Ian Morphett
Couldnt finish it, what a droll read, no offence placid buddhist dudes, but you are boring as batshit.
Aaron Smith
Apr 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
As a Westerner, I find Eastern philosophy at once simple and complex: the basic tenets of Buddhism and Eastern religion appear to be very simple (consideration for all living things, consciousness of all our actions and the knowledge that every action affects others, and a "forsaking" of the permanence of material things), but for those of us who've built our lives and measured our success by the acquisition of these very things, it's a hard sell.

The main message I've been getting from the book
Sara Rastakhiz
Dec 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
well now i must say this book is really meking me want to return to my ow religion not in the form that i used to know! in fact by reading this book i find some unfathomable parts of my religion exolained (not that my religion is the contrary its really easy but there is no one who can explain it well) so every page and chapter i read makes me want to read more and understand more! (though there are some things in the book that i just can`t accept ( the concept od rebirth for example w ...more
Oct 20, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: partly-read
When I started reading, I was unaware of the numerous abuse allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche, extensively documented and largely substantiated in the independent investigatory report conducted on behalf of his own Rigpa charity in 2018:

Obviously, this news greatly saddens and disturbs me. I had hoped to find some measure of wisdom and solace in the book (especially when confronting the fear of death in pandemic times), but that hope is gone now. I do
Feb 13, 2010 marked it as gave-up-on-reading  ·  review of another edition
Sigh, I'm not so keen on this whole belief in literal reincarnation business (even with the nuances he throws in).


I eventually gave up on reading this book around chapter 17 or so. It just drove me batty, the luminous this and extraordinary that. Sorry if I'm just being close-minded. (I will say that chapter 11 of this book is actually really really good, with the exception of a couple of crystal-radiant paragraphs, it showed a genuine compassion for the dying, very touching, offering the dy
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tibetan
The Tibetan book of Living and Dying is actually the interpretation or briefing of the sacred ancient Tibetan Buddhist text widely known in the west as The Tibetan Book of the Dead said to be written by great Indian Buddhist master Padmasambhava who brought Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century.

An excellent book which doesn't have anything to do with religion Buddhism but everything with compassion and humanity with which it shows how can we transform ourselves and this world while living our lif
Apr 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: required-reading
I cannot recommend the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying highly enough. I believe it is one of the most important books for anyone in the modern world to read.

The premise as I see it is: 1) throughout the modern world, our fear, avoidance, or shrugging off of death and dying is an enormous cause of our personal and collective spiritual suffering, as well as social injustices and environmental unraveling; 2) the possibility of understanding death clearly, using our lives to prepare for death, and
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Parts of this book are interesting, but overall it kind of starts to drag in the middle. I appreciated a look at life, death, and justice from a completely different perspective. It also does represent a considerably more balanced perspective on life and death than most of American culture has at present. However, I cannot understand anyone looking at the world and coming away believing that there aren't truly evil people. And it's too much of a stretch to think about colored humors attached to ...more
Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
An extremely important (and relevant) carry-along during my half-year trip to North India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Rinpoche writes largely to a Western audience, so it doesn't surprise me that much of his content seems simplistic and applicable to the ordinary observer. Really, TBLD is just another book that explains the "intermediate" or "transitional" states of life and death, which are otherwise known as "bardos."

I don't mean to suggest that Rinpoche totally sold out (as some refugees have suggest
Feb 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Scientists recently discovered what happens to the body, and in what order, as its dies. Their discovery replicated what Buddhism has said for millenia as outlined in this book.
However, The "Tibetan Book of Living and Dying' continues with what happens to 'you' next, after you're dead, and if for no other reason it makes this book a must read.
Tom Lombardo
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism
Sogyal Rinpoche fled from the Chinese when they invaded Tibet, a modern tragedy of a magnitude not generally acknowledged in the West. He writes of the invasion, "Over 1 million people out of a population of 6 million have died at the hands of the Chinese; Tibet's vast forests, as indispensable as those of the Amazon to the ecology of the world, have been cut down; its wildlife has been almost totally massacred; its plateaus and rivers have been polluted with nuclear waste; the vast majority of ...more
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sogyal Rinpoche imparts his Tibetan Buddhist tradition with the best of his ability - “what is I hope from this book? To inspire a quiet revolution in the whole way we look at health and care for the dying, and the whole way we look at life and care for the living.” In that he successful imparted his knowledge of the care the dying deserve. How to really be there for them as a compassionate presence, without ego and armed with forgiveness and love, as they transition into the most vulnerable sta ...more
Abhishek Prasad
May 24, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Probably a great book for someone spiritual and who is interested in exploring buddhism.
But it was a drag for me. At times gave me panic attacks, because the book basically just re-told the bad experiences I've had with my past religious beliefs/practices. The only good thing I could take away from here was the practise of meditation.
But I could have just stuck to any Sam Harris book/session for that.

Definitely a big no for Agnostic people like me. Although the teachings might seem different but
George K. Ilsley
This book was massively popular in the 1990s and deservedly so. Living and dying is surely a topic that touches us all!

Andrew Harvey is credited along with Patrick Gaffney as "Edited by" but Harvey is generally considered as the ghostwriter of this modern spiritual classic.

This book introduced me of "Tonglen" which is a simple practice, and offers a very intimate demonstration of the power of compassion—towards other, but also self-compassion. Tonglen is a practice I have often done on the bus w
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
“We are fragmented into so many different aspects. We don´t know who we really are, or what aspects of ourselves we should identify with or believe in. So many contradictory voices, dictates, and feelings fight for control over our inner lives that we find ourselves scattered everywhere, in all directions, leaving nobody at home.”
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book provided strong reinforcement to me on the value of compassion, serving others and working towards spiritual enlightenment. Having mostly had experience with meditation and Buddhist teachings from a secular understanding (and being a fairly settled agnostic), I found many sections challenging to process and nearly walked away from finishing the book for that reason. I am very glad that I did not. Although sections of the books did not stand out to me personally, beyond providing intere ...more
Ioan Lazea
May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything is temporary.
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Sogyal Rinpoche (Tibetan: བསོད་རྒྱལ་, Wylie: Bsod-rgyal) was born in the Tibetan Fire Pig year (1947-8) and raised by one of the most revered spiritual masters of this century, Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, who recognized him as the incarnation of Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa (1856-1926). With the Chinese occupation of Tibet, he went into exile with his master, who died in 1959 in Sikkim in the Him ...more

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“Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity — but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our "biography," our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards… It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?

Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn't that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?”
“We are fragmented into so many different aspects. We don´t know who we really are, or what aspects of ourselves we should identify with or believe in. So many contradictory voices, dictates, and feelings fight for control over our inner lives that we find ourselves scattered everywhere, in all directions, leaving nobody at home.

Meditation, then, is bringing the mind home.”
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