Steve Barrera's Reviews > The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
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If you've ever tried to read "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" you know that it's much too esoteric a work for the layperson. "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" makes the same teachings more accessible to the ordinary Western reader. The author is a Tibetan spiritual master who was living in exile in the West, and in his writing he adds a personal touch connecting the book to his autobiography and his experience as a spirtual practioner. At the heart of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings is recognition of impermanence and the need to prepare for death. This life is a transitionary stage only, a precious opportuntity to realize the true nature of reality, by encountering the true nature of the mind, the pure state of awareness called Rigpa. As the book puts it, "The View is the comprehension of the naked awareness, within which everything is contained." (p. 156). This ties into the idea of primacy of consciousness, or monistic idealism, the metaphysical principle behind Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. The book goes into details of how to practice meditation and spiritual devotion, with emphasis on the power of compassion, but also the importance of finding a spiritual master. The book then goes into ways to help the dying. Western society does not connect death to spiritual growth, choosing instead to isolate the dying and prolong their suffering, which is a terrible approach (there is recognition in the book of how the hospice movement is changing this). There is also a detailed description, from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism, of the process of dying, and of the experiences of the "bardos," or transitionary states between death and rebirth. This is where the book ties into the more difficult to understand wisdom of the "Tibetan Book of the Dead", which is poetic and ritualistic in format. This book explains the Tibetan beliefs and ritual practices in ordinary language. How much of it would be applicable to a Westerner in their life is another question, but certainly the overall philosophy and understanding of the meaning of life and death is valuable. The sincere and hopeful intention of the author, who was expelled from his suffering country at a young age, is heartwarming. This is a recommended work for anyone trying to decipher the "Tibetan Book of the Dead," as well as for anyone looking for an insightful spiritual perspective on the nature and meaning of death.
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Reading Progress

December 27, 2020 – Shelved
December 27, 2020 – Shelved as: to-read
February 17, 2021 – Started Reading
February 17, 2021 –
page 11
2.59%
February 20, 2021 –
page 42
9.88%
February 21, 2021 –
page 53
12.47%
February 25, 2021 –
page 84
19.76%
February 27, 2021 –
page 88
20.71%
March 4, 2021 –
page 102
24.0%
March 5, 2021 –
page 120
28.24%
March 6, 2021 –
page 140
32.94%
March 10, 2021 –
page 143
33.65%
March 13, 2021 –
page 170
40.0%
March 16, 2021 –
page 184
43.29%
March 17, 2021 –
page 187
44.0%
March 18, 2021 –
page 195
45.88%
March 19, 2021 –
page 202
47.53%
March 29, 2021 –
page 213
50.12%
March 29, 2021 –
page 220
51.76%
March 31, 2021 –
page 227
53.41%
March 31, 2021 –
page 230
54.12%
April 1, 2021 –
page 248
58.35%
April 3, 2021 –
page 270
63.53%
April 4, 2021 –
page 288
67.76%
April 4, 2021 –
page 294
69.18%
April 5, 2021 –
page 303
71.29%
April 5, 2021 –
page 312
73.41%
April 6, 2021 –
page 329
77.41%
April 6, 2021 –
page 339
79.76%
April 7, 2021 – Finished Reading

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