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The Tibetan Book of the Dead

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  5,917 ratings  ·  316 reviews
Imagine that as you leave your body at death, you hear the voice of a loved one whispering in your ear explanations of everything you see in the world beyond. Unlike other translations of the Bar do thos grol, the so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead , Robert Thurman's takes literally the entire gamut of metaphysical assumptions. The Bar do thos grol, or as Thurman transl ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 5th 1998 by London : Aquarian, 1994 (first published 800)
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Rosco Betunada also identify with this "milestone" in my reading history. I bought my copy on Sept. 24, 1969 and I just finished reading it earlier this week. How's …morealso identify with this "milestone" in my reading history. I bought my copy on Sept. 24, 1969 and I just finished reading it earlier this week. How's that for a "long read"? --> however, I did try to read it a couple-three- times early in my custodianship of this, and succeeded just recently because (1) I was more determined, I spoze, & (2) will pass on a HELPFUL HINT -- my prior attempts to read this were hampered by wading through all the prefaces and forwards and etc. Well: DON'T waste time reading those -- get right to the subject matter ! Start at the actual "FOREWORD" -- skim thru' it if the voices in your head say that this is a good idea, then begin at the Introduction (page 1)... and, also, skip the footnotes, as it appears that the total amount of footnotes is equal to, possibly in excess of, the total amount of the actual TBoTD. And, I'd read only 3, sometimes 4 pages a day -- and the following day would back-track a page or 2 and read 3 or 4 pages more. And then I'd refresh the beer or replenish the bourbon glass, lie down on the couch with my "regularly-scheduled" book to read.(less)
Byron 'Giggsy' Paul I've never had a problem getting a sale price when listed, but while some kindle sales have lowered prices for a few weeks its common for there to be …moreI've never had a problem getting a sale price when listed, but while some kindle sales have lowered prices for a few weeks its common for there to be one or two day sales. Or due to licensing sales sometimes aren't worldwide and apply to Amazon users from a certain region.

There are 3rd party sites that track kindle price drops. I personally like - you can see past price history to get an idea of a book rarely goes on sale or might have big prices drops 5 times a year - you can track a book and be notified when the price has dropped a certain amount or just search through books that have dropped in price recently.

I'm seeing this book marked down to $1.99 until the end of March(less)

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Dec 12, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i was about 3/4 done with this book when my car was stolen, the book was in the car. i got the car back two days later, but no tibetan book of the dead. hopefully some car thief will have greater understanding on his journey through the next bardo.
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“You’ve really gotta read this book. Ram Dass says it’s SO Far Out!”

´Far Out’ was a much-bandied-about-by-hippies catchphrase in 1971, and was likewise prized among flower children like my friend Maria - who said those words to me back then.

But, Ram WHO?

Ram Dass, aka Professor Richard Alpert, had - like his buddy, Professor Timothy Leary - “tuned in, turned on and dropped out.”

And, not only that, but Leary had sworn this holy Tibetan book exactly mirrored the process of “turning on”, hence its e
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: David Calcutt, Sylwia Czort, Peter Tinkler, Emma Hills, Emma Skipp
I have read the Tibetan book of the Dead, but I haven't. To read it once, isn't to read it at all. It takes time, effort, and a particular frame of mind, to truly get to grips with the text. You can take from it what you need, or take all of it, and make of it what you will. I find it very difficult to write a 'review' of the Tibetan Book of the dead. Listen to 'Tomorrow Never Knows' by The Beatles. The choral sounds in this music, reflect (only a little) the spirit of this masterpiece. ...more
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book. Better than I expected, and actually easy to read. Although I'm pretty doubtful that these things exactly happen to you after you die (just how exactly does the author know about all these intricate details!), I still believe in a lot of the concepts it presents, not only for thinking about post-death, but also in this lifetime. The worst thing to fear is fear itself! And your after-life is dictated by the state of your mind in the present life. If you are an angry or ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to understand this book but I didn’t despite my best efforts. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually I got very little from it and feel sheepish that I genuinely didn’t get the philosophy/spirituality that was attempted to be conveyed to me.
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient-cultures
The how-to guide for transiting from this life to the next. In Tibet, the bridge in between is termed "bardo". Very useful for folks like me seeking precision in bardo-crossing :)

Interestingly, the scores of steps on this pathway take upto 5 days. The book was thus compiled so that a family member/priest could direct the spirit through the bardo's confusion. Pure, compassionate, and fearless thoughts are the key to successful transit.

Surprisingly, many Hindu deities are mentioned, though Buddhis
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007, buddhism, university
"Then the Lord of Death will drag you by a rope tied round your neck, and cut off your head, tear out your heart, pull out your entrails, lick your brains, drink your blood, eat your flesh and gnaw your bones; but you cannot die, so even though your body is cut into pieces you will recover."

If Buddhism was represented by a bunch of high school cliques, Tibetan Buddhism would be the hardcore bad-asses everyone’s afraid of.

This book is really hard to read simply because of what it’s about: your ex
Jenna Moquin
This was one of the books on my Book Bucket List, and I'm glad I finally read it, but overall I was disappointed.

I disagreed with the teachings of this book. First, there is the assumption that being reborn into a new life is a bad thing, but some may find being in the cycle of sangsara to be enlightenment within itself.

Secondly, the book tells the deceased that the Peaceful and Wrathful deities are not real, and come from within the deceased's own mind, but then goes on to describe the deitie
The introduction and the commentary served as a great setup for the text itself, though still didn't prepare me for what I was in for. At first it seemed very different from other Buddhist texts I've read. It definitely didn't have the almost warm-fuzzy, reassuring feeling I get when reading Thich Nhat Hanh's books. But then I was reading through, starting to think the ideas were getting repetitive - I had an epiphany. It's personal and detailed, but it blew open a part of mind. The psychologica ...more
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
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. ...more
Edward Michael
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
the essential preparation to death. Every spiritual seeker must try to understand this extraordinary wisdom and knowledge
Who are you really?

I have both the kindle and hardback copy of this ancient text. The hardback book is a beautiful presentation... a jewel on your bookshelf.

The text increased my understanding of the Divine. It is not the easiest of reads. It takes a bit of work to decipher the meaning for yourself. For me... It was a revelation that affirmed my belief in God, Love and the Light, and the nature of "the self" beyond the illusion we call reality.
Whew! This one took a while.

Thurman's articulation (and sometimes analysis) of the art of death preparation through Tibetan Buddhism is patiently layered. His writing is accessible, if complex, and his translation work, though wordy and abstract, is still digestible given range of abstraction he must have waded through.

THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD chronicles the steps necessary to authentically aid an individual's encounters with the many between states of existence. There are two critical facet
D.L. Luke
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
a must if you have any interest to what begins of your mind, body and soul when you die
Ron Grunberg
Jan 26, 2008 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
I have some basic knowledge of Buddhism and was hoping that this would provide more insight into this belief system by translating and explaining its main texts. Sadly while this did provide a translation of the Book of the Dead it didn't provide much in the way of explanation. And the translation itself came across old fashioned and out dated (it was very Old English), which made it all the more difficult to read. I'm glad I've read it but feel that this could've been much better. ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: college-reading
I'm glad I took the opportunity to learn more about Tibetan Buddhist culture and dogma. The writing was often artful and definitely induced a near-meditative state, especially when reading its musings on loss and mortality. I learned a lot from this book about Tibetan mythology.
However, I hadn't realized to what extent Tibetan Buddhism encouraged acceptance of culpability--the sort of self-blame one can find in texts discussing original sin in Christian works as well. To some extent this tarnish
Stephen Yoder
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a rather odd experience to write a book review on a religious/spiritual text. Bible: "I feel the multiple authors of this odd collection of short stories, sometimes connected, sometimes not, should have been given more credit. Plus I got bogged down in all the begats." Koran: "Inspirational text, although I feel I should have more knowledge of the culture from which it sprung before I pass judgement on this passionate work." Et cetera.

Anyway, even given that I am not a Buddhist this book t
Richard S
Apr 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Transmigrate my soul to steal another child's body. The Tibetans are kind of a weird decadent religion devoted to occult meditation. Enlightenment as a means to immortality. There is nothing here unless you've devoted your life to going down this odd path, but who would ever want to? All of the great yogis and masters can't stop the Sri Lanka bombings. Sorry, it's selfish and bogus. ...more
I made it to 40%, and very uncharacteristically, decided to give up. It is very esoteric. I’m not gaining anything from it. At this point I am just forcing myself to read it. Considering I started it in early October of last year I suppose I should have read the writing on the wall. Transitioning from the ‘theory’ to the actual prayers themselves and their explanations was the final straw, so to speak. I simply can’t comprehend it.
Jason Harris
Feb 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was a very educational read. Rated M15+ for descriptions of violence. It clarified for me that no enlightened Westerner can reasonably defend Buddhist thought. The two are incompatible.
Chris Perry
Giving this a rating would be obnoxiously stupid. People should read it.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
RDX for the imagination. Mind is all.
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
Martin Zook
Nov 17, 2013 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
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
It seems a little unfair to rate an ancient treasure written by the great Padmasambhava. What kind of jerk gives Manchu Picchu three stars?

I chose this version because earlier versions are said to have some pretty significant flaws in the translation, and this one was done with the blessing and help of Chogyal Norbu, the main living Dogzchen rippoche and Tibetan scholar. The text is clear, easy to understand, and flows well. The introductions in the beginning are helpful to set the historical a
R.K. Cowles
Jul 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
3 1/2 stars
Benjamin Obler
I'm finding Chapter One, An Outline of Tibetan History and Buddhism in Summary, very helpful. I began practicing meditation and reading Buddhist-based self-help books five years ago, but have lacked a clear broad picture of where I'm located in relation to the history of the practice; and I've lacked an understanding of how the evolution of the practice allowed it to reach me. Not that it's been needed for me to know the scope of Buddhist teachings or Tibetan history to benefit from studying the ...more
Jody Mena
Fascinating and thought provoking. It is a very different picture of cosmology than I have ever considered. I am quite certain I did not understand everything here, but the commentaries were incredibly helpful. It is definitely not the sort of thing you can simply read once, I can tell it would require many years of study to truly grasp everything presented here. This structure of psychology and cosmology is a remarkable way to look at the world and at the human experience of life and death. I w ...more
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According to tradition, Padmasambhava was incarnated as an eight-year-old child appearing in a lotus blossom floating in Lake Dhanakosha, in the kingdom of Uddiyana, traditionally identified with the Swat Valley in present-day Pakistan. His special nature was recognized by the local king who married him to one of his daughters, Mandarava. She and Padmasambhava's other main consort, Yeshe Tsogyal, ...more

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95 likes · 10 comments
“Practice giving things away, not just things you don't care about, but things you do like. Remember, it is not the size of a gift, it is its quality and the amount of mental attachment you overcome that count. So don't bankrupt yourself on a momentary positive impulse, only to regret it later. Give thought to giving. Give small things, carefully, and observe the mental processes going along with the act of releasing the little thing you liked. (53)
(Quote is actually Robert A F Thurman but Huston Smith, who only wrote the introduction to my edition, seems to be given full credit for this text.)”
“With mind distracted, never thinking, "Death is coming,"
To slave away on the pointless business of mundane life,
And then to come out empty--it is a tragic error. (116)
trans by Robert Thurman”
More quotes…