- Title: Bardo Thodol – The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation
- Authors: Padmasambhava
- Genre: Spirituality, Self Help
- Length: 535 pages
- Publisher & Date Published: Viking – January 19, 2006 (Hardcover)
Penguin Classics – January 30, 2007 (Kindle/Paperback)
- Hardcover Price: $31.50
- Paperback Price: $20.40
- Kindle Price: $14.99
BOOK REVIEW by MC SIMON
Bardo Thodol – The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation
Is there anyone who has not asked at least once, what happens after Life is over and the door to Death opens?
Is there anyone who has not thrown a moment into the mystery of Death? The mystery which … is actually the only sure phenomenon someone is bound to experience “in this life.”
Well, this topic was one that definitely intrigued me. I could have used the term “passionate,” but I admit it’s too much to say. It was not passion, but, like any other phenomenon that has prompted my interest, it obviously gave birth to my desire to “study” it.
And I, for the study, have always chosen the Path of Books … older or newer.
And so … I met Bardo Thodol.
Not just once.
But now, for the fourth time in this life I was given the chance to read Bardo Thodol – The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
Without emphasizing too much the great choice of the cover, I cannot help but mention the fact that the translator did a great job.
We are in the face of an exoteric, strange, profound, disturbing text.
These are the words I would use to describe the book in my hand.
Attributed to the great Guru Padma Sambhava (eighteenth century), the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Bardo Thodol – The Tibetan Book of the Dead, is perhaps the text most directly bent around the phenomenon of death.
Reviewing a book of this depth, trying to translate an entire doctrine and its fundamental importance into just a few human words … is probably something impossible to accomplish.
But, if the impossible can be touched sometimes … so I too will try to touch on the surface some of the aspects that, personally, I think we need to know in life.
Bardo Thodol introduces us and allows us to deepen the rituals of guidance through the empire of death, a ritual that a spiritual master performs during the 49 symbolic earthly days. Forty-nine days in which, the deceased is a prisoner of his own karmic illusions, good or bad; illusions that he is not able to recognize as his own mental creations, and forms of thought.
Among the notions that you can understand and touch in Bardo Thodol, the doctrine that is the essence of all doctrines, I will enumerate only a few. Just a few “ideas” that I would read many times, and I will probably discover something new every time … something I did not understand at first reading:
- Tibetan Tantric Buddhism constantly appeals to the whole range of human emotions: fear, mania, horror, and this is also a method of identifying the initiatory act. The intensity of emotions releases energies that allow fusion with the Absolute.
- Bardo is the intermediary state that the deceased has established from the moment of death to liberation into one of the higher worlds, or until entering a matrix and rebirth.
- What methods do you have for closing matrix gates
- Choosing the gate of a matrix – how to choose a new body
- Predictive visions of birthplace – how to recognize the signs and characteristics of the place and the continent of rebirth
- Alternative choices of supernatural birth or birth by germs
- Supernatural birth by transfer to a paradise kingdom
- Birth through the matrix: return to the human world
- The essence of the teachings of Bardo Thodol is that looking at the human mind, as an individuality, as separate from other minds, is just a play of Illusion (Maya), of ignorance. In other words, any mind or individual consciousness cannot realize Reality (which is a buildup of phenomena, space, spirit and matter, the nature of the primordial mind, the nature of the absolute).
- Whatever the religious practices of a being, at the time of death there are various disturbing illusions that make Thodol indispensable.
Bardo Thodol – The Tibetan Book of the Dead, also builds for the reader the connection with the vital breaths, the subtle channels (Nadi), the chakras, mandals, the words of force (mantras), Shishya and the initiations.
Each sacred word, every term used, each phenomenon and aspect mentioned … are all described in the final notes (notes belonging to the English edition treated by Dr. Evans-Wentz, translated by Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup, the first translator of Bardo Thodol in a European language). In the manuscript, but not in the printed text, immediately after the text of Bardo Thodol, there are 13 sheets containing rituals and prayers, translated into these notes.
So, the one who reads this text, should spread it. He who once heard it, even if he did not understand it, would remember in the middle of it, without a word, because then the intelligence is nine times lucid. It must, therefore, be heard by the ears of all beings alive, read at the expense of all the sick, read by every lifeless body, spread, spread everywhere, and those who obey this doctrine are truly lucky.
Above is the review of Bardo Thodol … the book and at the same time the Doctrine, which liberates through sight or hearing, without the need for meditation … even for those who have particularly bad karma … on the path of the Secret Path.
I’ll stop here to let you investigate further.
With your eyes, with your mind, with your heart.
During this life … preparing for the moment of Death, moment by which … inevitably … we all pass one day.
5 Stars from MC Simon, the WritersPayItForward’s reviewer.
One of the greatest works created by any culture and overwhelmingly the most significant of all Tibetan Buddhist texts in the West, The Tibetan Book of the Dead has had a number of distinguished translations, but none encompassed the work in its entirety. Now, in one of the year’s most important publishing events, the entire text has not only been made available in English but in a translation of quite remarkable clarity and beauty.
With an introductory commentary by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, who calls this translation “an extraordinary accomplishment undertaken with great care over many years” this complete edition faithfully presents the insights and intentions of the original work. It includes one of the most detailed and compelling descriptions of the after-death state in world literature, exquisitely written practices that can transform our experience of daily life, guidance on helping those who are dying, and an inspirational perspective on coping with bereavement. Translated with the close support of leading contemporary masters, including HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and learned scholars such as Khamtrul Rinpoche and Zenkar Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “I hope that the profound insights contained in this work will be a source of inspiration and support to many interested people around the world.”
Alternate translations/book editions
M.C. Simon is an author, blogger, project manager and researcher. She loves to study different subjects and different domains. This passion helped her succeed in her first year of becoming a blogger and a published author, starting from the ground level. [Learn More]
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