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Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die: Death Stories of Hindu, Tibetan Buddhist, and Zen Masters

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  171 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Death is a subject obscured by fear and denial. When we do think of dying, we are more often concerned with how to avoid the pain and suffering that may accompany our death than we are with really confronting the meaning of death and how to approach it. Sushila Blackman places death--and life--in a truer perspective, by telling us of others who have left this world with di ...more
Paperback, 159 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by Shambhala (first published May 1st 1997)
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May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Quite similar to how 'not great beings' die.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: metaphysical
It is impossible to rate this book. As you can tell from the book's description it is a collection of famous death scenes turned into stories. It is written from the point of someone who is far from objective: (view spoiler) And it is well written.

This is why you should read this book: because here in the Judeo-Christian west we are so terrified of death that we either shun i
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very insightful and calming to my soul. This is the most uplifting book about death, compiled by and with an afterword from Sushi Blackman, who herself was unknowingly dying with metastatic lung cancer during much of the work of completing this book, that I have ever read. Since I have become somewhat of an expert in loss in the last four years, reading pretty much whatever I can get my hands on concerning death/dying/grief, this is no small statement.
Is this a book for everyone? I'd like to th
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
There's a famous Gandhi quote that goes: "My life is my message." We could just as easily say, his death was as powerful a message - when he was shot pointblank by Godse, his last words were "Hey Ram," remembering his beloved Rama.

Sushila Blackman's Graceful Exits is a compilation of how great souls teach through their deaths. The Eastern traditions teach that death is an important transition to afterlife or enlightenment, and those last moments matter a lot, however one can't decide to die a ce
Steve Wilson
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-faves
We all gotta go some day . . . It was cool reading about how the 'masters' prepared to leave this world.
Marina Quattrocchi
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book about true Masters in the Hindu, Tibetan, Buddhist and Zen tradition who knew with great clarity the exact day of their death, prepared for it gracefully, prepared their students and disciples beforehand, and existed seamlessly and quickly often sitting while meditating. After reading all 108 examples one realizes that although this seems almost impossible in the Western world, exiting gracefully is indeed possible if one leads a good life, and meditates daily.
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Students of Zen, Yoga, or Tibetian studies. Students with eastern interests and philosophies
A nice collection of the "death stories" of well known teachers of numerous eastern disciplines. Buddhist, Hindu, Tibetian "masters" (among others) and the manner in which they each faced the process of their own death are described. Fairly consistantly these stories are of masters who recently died; "...their actual death experiences..." (p.23) are given. These stories are thankfully not simply retold stories of legends from eons now "long ago".

This book describes the Gurus, Swamis, Lamis, Rin
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing

This powerful book tells the death stories of 108 Eastern spiritual masters. Eastern religions believe one's state of being at the time of death influences or determines one's progress after death. Sushila Blackman began to compile these stories without really knowing why. A trip to the hospital for chest pain revealed she had terminal lung cancer: the book was in fact part of her preparation for her own conscious death. A magnificent book compiled
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This collection of the death stories of Hindu, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhist masters was edited, by my late friend Sushila Blackman, who died shortly before its publication. Every story is a precious teaching on what it looks like to have a good death, in which the moments of leave-taking are a profound support for those who remain. May all who read this book experience the blessings of these extraordinary teachers in full measure.
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised at the number of so-so reviews so I'll suggest you'll likely want at least bit of Buddhism background to appreciate this intriguing book... or be over 75 ...or have some other reason for expecting your own death. If you think of quitting mid-way, read the "Afterward" before deciding to send it back to the library.

(Dates for the teachers are in the back... " Masters and Sources... I found myself looking up dates and needn't have.)
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: death, spirituality
A collection of stories about the way historical and contemporary masters from Hindu, Zen, Buddhist, Sufi traditions have died - all very intriguing and inspiring. I which the selections had been written all in one neutral voice instead they are excerpted from other books which makes the reading uneven. The postscript account of how and why the author compiled these tales is the most intimate and moving of all.
Mridul Singhai
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book reinforces the fact that everyone has to ultimately die. Although you can be remembered by your deeds but your soul has to leave this world. There are still biases on the theory about reincarnation but this book is not about that.

A must-read for anyone who's gives a darn about spirituality.
May 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Not much to learn from this book. Or maybe there is if you happen to be an enlightened being, which I am not. While the more miraculous descriptions seemed folkloric and unnecessary, there was some good stuff here and there in how death is viewed and approached by those who see reality more clearly than most.
Ron Krumpos
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Graceful Exits" is one of the books in the primary bibliography of my free ebook on comparative mysticism. "The greatest achievement in life" at has been reviewed on Goodreads.
A poignant collection of stories about the passing of various Hindu/Buddhist teachers with the inclusion of one story about the sufi master, Rumi.
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Not what I expected. I think a hospice worker would have been better able to write a book addressing how to die with grace.
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One hundred and eight accounts of the death and dying of great beings. Inspiring and direct pointing to the nature of reality.
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book discusses the deaths of great beings in buddhist and hindu traditions. It offers a welcome light, sometimes funny, view of death, as some monks make jokes or recite poetry as they die.
Marjorie Scheer
Oct 29, 2010 is currently reading it
Beautiful so far.
Jun 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who know they are not immortal
How do spiritual men die? This book contains a few answers. Tender and uplifting.
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Nothing earth-shattering revealed here.
I can see that this book would appeal mainly to those who have their own gurus. I would rate as 2.5 stars for the average reader.
Jun 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Interesting although I would have liked a bit more than the final words of these people prior to death.
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Sep 27, 2017
Boris Gregoric
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Nov 26, 2011
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Oct 01, 2015
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Oct 19, 2017
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May 16, 2015
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Dec 09, 2015
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