Thursday, September 19, 2013

Secret Tibetan Book of the Dead (video)

Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven, Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly; DP (video); BD (art)
Tibetan Book of the Dead Comic (Bardo Thodol/


Tibetan lamas in elaborate ritual (
What will we do at death? Unless we are guided during the dying process, many of us will react habitually in the liminal intermediate (bardo) world. That world of loud and scary spirits, shapeshifters and oddities (where the wild things are), is not likely to lead us to good choices. A confident guide in this world can lead one to more profitable options for rebirth.

(bardo thodol/
Of course, this is dependent on cultural norms and assumptions. These instructions would not likely help Finnish Christians or African Buddhists (yes, there are African Buddhists) because they are not steeped in Tibetan lore. Other groups will have other lore that applies. Why? It is because so much of our experience is based on perception, assumptions, and a general paradigm religion introduces us to. We think science is our religion, with white clad priests, a secret language open to all but mastered by only a few in ultra exclusive journals, strict rituals (experimental design), and gatekeepers galore.
But even that belief system, far from being "objective" or able to find absolute truth, is full of lore and expectations about postmortem experience. Consciousness persists, form persists (in subtler states of matter), feeling, perception, formation all persist. Death is no obstacle to anything but memory and opportunity. Do what can be done now with a long future in mind. Enjoy what can be enjoyed here because soon it will be forgotten in detail yet traced in our karma. Actions lead to habits, which lead to the formation of our character. But what about doubters? We survive death; we pre-exist life?

Liberation through Hearing
Wisdom Quarterly Wikipedia edit
The Bardo Thodol, or Liberation Through Hearing in the Intermediate State, is often referred to in the West by the more casual title, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a name which draws a parallel to another funerary text, The Egyptian Book of the Dead.

The Tibetan text describes experiences the individual consciousness has after death, during the interval in between death and the next rebirth. It is is intended to guide one through safely. The interval is known in Tibetan as the bardo. The text also includes chapters on the signs of death and rituals to undertake when death is closing in, or has taken place. It is internationally famous, the most widespread work of Tibetan Nyingma literature.

Tibetans bow at Chinese confiscated palace
According to Tibetan tradition, the book was composed in the eighth century by Padmasambhava, as written down by his primary student, Yeshe Tsogyal. It was buried in the Gampo hills in central Tibet and subsequently discovered by a Tibetan terton, Karma Lingpa, in the 14th century. There were variants of the book among different sects. 

It was first published in 1927 by Oxford University Press. Dr. Walter Y. Evans-Wentz chose this title because of the parallels he found with the Egyptian work. It is recited by Tibetan Buddhist lamas over a dying or recently deceased person, or sometimes over an effigy of the deceased.
  • (Saba Jakeman) It doesn't matter where or when someone important is born. That's 99% of the problem right there. Ignorant sheep[ple] believe that it takes a special magical man to save us from ourselves. "Oh, but he was born here, belongs to us...and we're correct." What a bunch of rubbish. We're all equally accountable to one another. We're ALL as important as the Buddha or Jesus. It is WE who must change things. The time is always NOW. And the "savior" is always US.

    (Peter Hackman)Peter Hackman I don't believe in mystical Sky People or magical Messiahs [like Wisdom Quarterly does]. I'm comfortable with the idea of a complete Void after I die. [Who wouldn't prefer that? Wouldn't it be nice if it all just ended and we could rest without consciousness or karmic consequences?] However, I'm also aware that our brains are alive seven minutes after we die and are completely cut off from external stimuli, which then frees processing speed that is otherwise bound to everyday functioning, rendering time irrelevant and allowing the mind to craft its own reality, yielding an eternity's worth of experience before we finally wink out... [In Buddhism this dangerous, albeit comforting, view is called Annihilationism, the idea that the person is utterly annihilated at death. It is the counterpart to another wrong view called Eternalism. It is a very weighty wrong view, particularly when accompanied by the view that karma has no efficacy after this life.]

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