A life dedicated to service...

Week 23: The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Death is real, it comes without warning and it cannot be escaped. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is an ancient source of strength and meaning in the Buddhist cultures of the Himalayas. Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this film examines its traditional use and points to its acceptance in Western hospices. With every (re-)viewing it enriches my ongoing practice of living and dying. May it serve you (as) well.

“The Tibetan Book of the Dead deals with the process of life as well as the process of death. There are three stages. The [first] deals with the moment of peaking and immediately afterward. It teaches one to retain the peak experience as long as possible.

“The [second] deals with the period after the peak; the period when one is feeling powerful emotions and experiencing heavy (profound) thoughts. It teaches one to recognize all good and bad experiences of this period as projections of the self, the subconscious. It teaches one to accept truth as the one guiding principle of life.

“The [third] deals with the period of rebirth into new selves. It teaches one to have good thoughts in order to gain rebirth in the highest plane possible. The whole book can be thought of as a guidebook to physical death, a guidebook to a meditation or drug experience, or more all-embracing, a guidebook to the death of individual selves and how to avoid rebirth, or at least how to be reborn in a higher plane” (source).

I suggest viewing the film in stages, ideally more than once, over time, and/or in the company of a friend. You’ll find it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-Hrb4EmZWs#action=share.

About the Author
Peter lives in Victoria, BC, where he volunteers in health-care. teaches mindfulness meditation, and offers end-of-life care.

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