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Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead)

Discussion in 'Vajrayana DIR' started by SageTree, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. SageTree

    SageTree Spiritual Friend
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    Hello Friends,

    I'm wondering if we can have a bit of a talk about this text.
    What it's worth to us as practitioners?
    How to draw practice from it?
    What are those practices?


    To be clear about what I've read of it, this is the copy and translation I own:

    [​IMG]

    Coleman, Graham, with Thupten Jinpa (Eds.), Gyurme Dorje(Trans)(2005)



    A long time ago I, shortly after these films came out I picked up the copy above:

    The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A way of Life

    Tibetan Book of The Dead - The Great Liberation

    I was already practicing Buddhism at the time, in the Zen tradition,
    but slow as I read into Vajrayana more and more, I became highly interested....
    And read on....

    In time, while I embrace what I feel I understand of the philosophical teachings,
    I don't believe I incorporate much of the ritual or work with visualizations,
    although I do feel it has inspired me to do visualization of shorts.


    I know this writing comes to me through Nyingma tradition,
    although I'm not real super clear on all the distinctions between the schools.
    So please include this in the talks.


    With all the talk around here in the Vajrayana DIR I decided to pick this up,
    off my shelf, and read it a little more.
    This book has a list of the Vajra families, charts, pictures etc...
    As well for the Wrathful deities.

    The Padma family caught my eye as I was reading through these.....


    So yea.... this is just general talk.
    I don't want to start a debate or a fight.
    Just getting to know others, hear what they know and get to know my Self.

    :namaste
    SageTree
     
  2. ratikala

    ratikala Istha gosthi

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    jai jai , nice post my freind :namaste
    ...you have a translation/ comentary upon , that Ive not read ,
    I originaly read chogyam trungpa's translation and comentary , followed by sogyal rinpoche's

    what is it worth to us as practitioners ?

    I think for anyone brought up in a non buddhist culture it gives a wonderfull introduction to the common beleif in rebirth , allthough the text itself is intended for recitation to the deceased reading the text gives insight into a totaly different way of regarding the cycle of birth and death .

    otherwise known as the great liberation , or liberation by hearing it is a text to guide us and deliver us from states of confusion that we experience at death and during the days spent in the bardo between death and rebirth .
    so to read it before hand will help us to understand and prepair ourselves for the process .

    how do we draw practice from it ?

    that is a god one ! (question that is ! ).....understanding the cycle of birth and death and the oppertunity for liberation that lay at the end of this life gives us the incentive to practice and lead a pure life dedicating our time to activities that either tend us toward a fortunate rebirth or to liberation it self .


    what are the practices ?

    in truth the practices we might personaly apply would be those which prepair the mind for death and create auspicious circumstances which might determine future human births , as it is only by dint of a fortunate human birth that we might have the oppertunity to eventualy gain liberation .
    in which case the practices will vary dependant upon the level and aptitude of the practitioner .

    the true practice if it is even a practice, is the reading of the text for another who is undergoing the bardo of becoming .

    I read it for my grandmother when she passed away , she was a beautifull person and I felt that it might be the right thing for her , when she lay at the end of her life she was marginaly un settled , un concious? only because I beleive that they had sedated her a little in hope to make passing easier , but allthough the body may be sedated the mind was still active I could feel her anxiety , I asked the nurse how she felt that she was ? she said that she was still strong that she was still fighting , the nurse reconed she could go on like that for a few days yet , I didnt want her to experience confusion or fear , so I decided to ask her if she would mind me to chant for her which I did gently in her ear , explaining what I was doing and why , she calmed imidately and passed within a very short space of time , my mother and father arrived just intime to see her leave in the most beautifully peacefull state which was allso benificial for them .
    I continued the practice throughout the entire period , It gave me great peace and sence of purpose to be able to do something for someone who had done so much for me as a child .

    It taught me a lot as I found that with the desire to benifit another ones dedication to the pracrice (in this case I mean the recitation)is more than one would ever put into ones own daily practice , as one realises there is one and only one oppertunity to practice and practice with intence concentration to the extent that allthough I also had to perform other daily dutys within that time their importance dwindled to being what they were mere tasks and functions , I was living and visualising the process with her .

    I have never experienced any meditation on this precious human life which comes even close to that experience .

    nor will I ever cease to belive in divine intervention , As I had been carrying the book in my bag when I learnt that she was ill and that it would only be a short mater of time , my mother had decided not to tell me ?

    obviously my grandmother had created the right causes :namaste
     
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  3. dyanaprajna2011

    dyanaprajna2011 Dharmapala

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    I have Chogyam Trungpa's translation and commentary of the text, but I haven't read through it all the way yet. As I'm a practitioner of Zen, and not Tibetan, I haven't really placed much thought into it. But, from my understanding, it describes what a person goes through after death, until their next rebirth. I think the best worth and practices one can draw from it are that it gives good visualizations for the practice of deity yoga. It can also give one direction, in a mystical sense, as a guide for one's path to enlightenment.

    As far as the differences between the schools, I'm not quite clear on the distinctions either, except for the fact that the Nyingma was the first school, and the Gelug is the school of the Dalai Lama.

    I might have to get my copy off the shelf and take another look at it. :)
     
  4. SageTree

    SageTree Spiritual Friend
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    :namaste

    I would like to ask a quick question this evening.

    "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" I have read.
    It is amazing.

    Perhaps I misunderstand it though.
    I know the text has obviously similar points,
    but is the book 'Living and Dying' meant to be more of a translation than an exegesis?

    I very much appreciate all you wrote.
    I hope to have a reply or more to add shortly.

    Exams are about over and break is about to start :)

    :namaste
    SageTree
     
  5. ratikala

    ratikala Istha gosthi

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    strangely enough I'd say , .... the other way around sogyal rinpoche's being the exegesis .
    the original text being as we have discussed a text specificaly for the purpose of libberation through hearing , to be read at the point of death for the benifit of the person entering the bardo of becoming .
    yet sogyal rinpoche's "living and dying" is more a book writen to explain the original text and give some inturpretation as to the wisdom contained and how that awareness might also be put into enriching our living as well as serving its purpose at the point of death .
    sogyal rinpoche's "living and dying also contains explanations of many other practices to enable the western mind to understand both life and death from the correct motivational stand point ,

    a tibetan grows up with this knowledge and awareness around him at all times therefore looks at life and death very differently .
    the simple fact that a buddhist accepts re birth without a second thought means that death is veiwed very differently , where as we have been conditioned to think in terms of one life , begining and end , therefore we fear death in a different way .

    it then goes without saying that if one is to understand the process of death differently that one also needs to adjust ones understanding of life , we canot fully understand one without understanding the other , and visa versa .


    wonderfull , I hope you have done well , a break will be well deserved :)
     
  6. SageTree

    SageTree Spiritual Friend
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    :namaste

    Thank You, for your sharing and wondrous reflection on how it too help you through death.

    Right on, I didn't order them in line of presumption or what I thought they were,
    thanks, I felt for sure that it must be an exegesis...
    or the most cleverly worked translation ever!

    I really enjoyed the book myself for all the reasons you mention. I understand the contemplation of Death's benefit to the realization of Life's meaning. The way the book was divided most certainly illuminated the process of both sides, and tied them together nicely. It is a brilliant work. One of those 'part and parcel' documents that get the 'whole' of things concisely in One.

    Understood.

    I can see even within Western culture the difference in knowing between those who deny death
    or have never experienced it in their life,
    and those who have lost numerous close people.

    Having the chance to live in communities with a large First Nations population (Canada's Native Americans),
    I've seen what it's like to be with people who know that this is but a phase or chapter in one's completeness.

    It's very humbling and awakening....
    to walk into a Hospice and see a western family's room...
    and what a First Nations family's room looks like.

    Agreed wholeheartedly.

    As you said, no meditation at all could have left you with the knowledge that you have today from directly experiencing the death of the Grandmother in this way.

    For which, I am sorry for the losing of a loved one in this life,
    but however am happy you got to have a proper send off.
    I know that is invaluable in terms of learning to live with...

    Exams went well and are over. I officially find out Thursday how they all went.

    On that note, "Book of the Dead", "Living and Dying" and generally impermanence,
    tie into something I see myself doing with the Human Services certificate
    that I am taking right now.

    One of my interests is to work at a Hospice centre, if not for a job....
    perhaps now as a better equipped volunteer,
    and that is due in no small part to those books and Buddhism,
    from which so much of my understanding comes.


    Thanks for your sharing ratikala.

    :namaste
    SageTree
     
  7. Frater Sisyphus

    Frater Sisyphus Contradiction, irrationality and disorder

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    It seems quiet around here but I'll bump it anyway.

    I love the Bardo Thodol, it's a beautiful text and means a great deal to me :hearteyes:
     
    #7 Frater Sisyphus, Jan 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
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  8. Srivijaya

    Srivijaya Active Member

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    I feel the same way. It's a crucial Vajrayana take on the process of the twelve dependent-related links of our samsaric experience. I don't use it for practice but it forms part of my background as a Buddhist.
     
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  9. Mudramoksha

    Mudramoksha Member

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    Yeah, it's from the Nyingma lineage but it's not really that well-known or central to even that lineage, which makes it rather intriguing seeing how it rose into prominence in the 50s, which has since completely died out and it's once again largely obscure.
    It's a marvelous text although and I personally hold a heretical proclamation that Padmasambhava is greater than Gautama himself! (although not as widely known) Particularly with many of his other almost 'prophetic' texts.
    I'm not a Nyingma practitioner specifically but I do hold a lot of their work to high esteem, Bardo Thodol is case in point :)
     
    #9 Mudramoksha, Jul 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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