Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith asked C.D. Sweitzer:

I seem to remember reading in a translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead (or some other Buddhist text) that the final phase of dissolution of self…more? Seems legit are you?

C.D. Sweitzer It’s been many years since I read The Tibetan Book of the Dead (I believe it was the Bantam Books edition published in 1993), and given that I read a few related books around the same time (including the Egyptian Book of the Dead), I might not recall the details correctly. So please forgive any misremembrances.

It was translated by texts supposedly written by monks who had deliberately retained consciousness throughout the process of death and rebirth (or through shamanic journeys mirroring such).

The first part, as I recall, dealt with recognizing distinct stages of death occurring after what we would consider the clinical death of the body. These stages of changing consciousness are associated with colors, culminating in the “clear light” (or pure consciousness). The soul or essence condenses into a small drop that finally departs the body (some specific number of days after death).

The next part revealed various fierce-looking deities that confront the soul as a sort of test of spiritual awareness. If the deceased turns away from the fierce beings in fear, the soul will cease to progress and reincarnation will occur. If the deities are confronted without fear, the soul will progress to the next stage.

During the final stage, the deceased is faced with a vision or vivid memory from the life just lived, usually one related to a sexual experience. Guilt or shame associated with the vision results in another incarnation, while acceptance or self-forgiveness results in transcendence.

As with all forms of Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to cease being incarnated and extinguish the self. While this sounds destructive, it really just means removing the obstacle of ego (or the illusion of self as separate) from unity with the pure, infinite, and eternal universal consciousness.

More Answered Questions

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more