The Tibetan Book of the Dead Book Summary

Awakening Upon Dying

by Padmasambhava, Karma Lingpa22


The Tibetan Book of the Dead provides guidance on the intermediate state between death and rebirth, aiding spiritual liberation through vivid descriptions and invocations.

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What is The Tibetan Book of the Dead about

The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Awakening Upon Dying is a seminal text in Tibetan Buddhism, originally composed by the 8th-century Indian master Padmasambhava and later discovered in the 14th century by Karma Lingpa. The book offers a comprehensive guide to the bardo, the intermediate state between death and rebirth, through detailed descriptions of the visions and stages one might encounter. This new translation, enriched by recent discoveries and commentary by Dzogchen Buddhist master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, aims to provide clearer insights into the ancient teachings. The text serves both as a practical manual for the dying and a rich cultural and spiritual document.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead 5 Key Takeaways

Understanding the Bardo

The bardo refers to the intermediate state between death and rebirth. The book offers a detailed guide to navigate this state, describing the stages and visions encountered.

Liberation Through Hearing

The text includes invocations to be read aloud to the dying person, intended to aid in their inner liberation and successful journey through the bardo.

Peaceful and Wrathful Deities

Descriptions of various deities that one may encounter in the bardo, starting with peaceful ones followed by wrathful deities. These visions are symbolic and aim to aid in spiritual awakening.

Dzogchen Perspective

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu's introduction and commentary provide a Dzogchen perspective on the ancient texts, offering scholarly insights and a modern understanding.

Historical and Cultural Context

The book not only serves as a spiritual guide but also as a historical and cultural document, revealing much about Tibetan beliefs and practices concerning life, death, and rebirth.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead Best Reviews

  • A must-read for everyone serious about Tibetan Buddhism. Even if you're not into Tibetan Buddhism for the practice, I highly recommend it. - Unknown Reviewer
  • This profoundly appealing promise is at the heart of Tibetan Buddhist beliefs about life and death. - Unknown Reviewer

Top The Tibetan Book of the Dead Quotes

  • Don't panic!
  • The moment of death is a window of opportunity for spiritual liberation.

Who should read The Tibetan Book of the Dead?

This book is essential for those interested in Tibetan Buddhism, spiritual seekers, and anyone curious about the afterlife and the process of dying. It offers profound insights into the nature of life, death, and rebirth, providing valuable guidance for both the living and the dying.

About the Author

Padmasambhava, the 8th-century Indian Buddhist master, is credited with introducing Buddhism to Tibet. Known as the 'Second Buddha,' he played a pivotal role in establishing Tibetan Buddhism and is highly revered. Karma Lingpa, a 14th-century Tibetan tertön, discovered Padmasambhava’s concealed teachings, bringing them to prominence. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, a modern Dzogchen master, has provided extensive commentary and scholarly insights, making these ancient teachings accessible to contemporary readers.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead FAQs

Is it worth reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead?

Yes, it is highly recommended for those serious about Tibetan Buddhism and spiritual practices. Even if you're not a practitioner, it offers valuable insights into life, death, and the afterlife.

What is The Tibetan Book of the Dead about?

The book provides guidance on achieving liberation during the moment of death, navigating the bardo (intermediate state), and fulfilling one's potential as a spiritually awakened being.

What does The Tibetan Book of the Dead say about the afterlife?

The book describes the afterlife as a series of experiences in the bardo, where one encounters various deities and visions. It advises not to panic and provides invocations to guide the deceased towards liberation.