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The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

by Padmasambhava, Karma Lingpa

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,144517,189 (3.96)3
The most graceful English translation of this masterpiece of world literature - prepared with the participation of the Dalai Lama and eminent contemporary masters of this tradition appointed by the Dalai Lama One of the greatest works created by any culture and one of the most influential of all Tibetan Buddhist texts in the West, The Tibetan Book of the Dead has had a number of distinguished translations, but strangely all of these have been partial abridgements. Now the entire text has not only been made available in English but in a translation of quite remarkable clarity and beauty. A comprehensive guide to living and dying, The Tibetan Book of the Dead contains exquisitely written guidance and practices related to transforming our experience in daily life, on the processes of dying and the after-death state, and on how to help those who are dying. As originally intended this is as much a work for the living, as it is for those who wish to think beyond a mere conventional lifetime to a vastly greater and grander cycle. 'Extraordinary ... this work will be a source of inspiration and support to many' His Holiness the Dalai Lama About the authors: Commentary by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Thupten Jinpa is the senior translator to the Dalai Lama and President of the Institute of Tibetan Classics. Graham Coleman is founder of the Orient Foundation for Arts and Culture, a major Tibetan cultural conservancy organization, and writer-director of the acclaimed feature documentary Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy. Gyurme Dorje is a leading scholar of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, from which the Tibetan Book of the Dead literature derives.… (more)
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Showing 5 of 5
The most graceful English translation of this masterpiece of world literature - prepared with the participation of the Dalai Lama and eminent contemporary masters of this tradition appointed by the Dalai Lama One of the greatest works created by any culture and one of the most influential of all Tibetan Buddhist texts in the West, The Tibetan Book of the Dead has had a number of distinguished translations, but strangely all of these have been partial abridgements. Now the entire text has not only been made available in English but in a translation of quite remarkable clarity and beauty. A comprehensive guide to living and dying, The Tibetan Book of the Dead contains exquisitely written guidance and practices related to transforming our experience in daily life, on the processes of dying and the after-death state, and on how to help those who are dying. As originally intended this is as much a work for the living, as it is for those who wish to think beyond a mere conventional lifetime to a vastly greater and grander cycle. 'Extraordinary ... this work will be a source of inspiration and support to many' His Holiness the Dalai Lama About the authors: Commentary by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Thupten Jinpa is the senior translator to the Dalai Lama and President of the Institute of Tibetan Classics. Graham Coleman is founder of the Orient Foundation for Arts and Culture, a major Tibetan cultural conservancy organization, and writer-director of the acclaimed feature documentary Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy. Gyurme Dorje is a leading scholar of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, from which the Tibetan Book of the Dead literature derives.
  Langri_Tangpa_Centre | Aug 1, 2023 |
What in the world did I just read? This was really weird. I hate to sound insulting, but coming from an atheistic point of view, this read like someone was on a drug trip rather than dying. I should point out that this is a manual for Buddhist when they are going to die, when they are dead, and when they are reborn. I wouldn't read this unless you've read a few things about Buddhism. However, regardless of faith you are going to be thinking of death, keep that in mind before reading Tibetan Book of the Dead.

My grandmother died earlier this month. I needed something to read that was related to death or some that would help calm me down. I wasn't sure when I wanted to read this because of the subject matter, but thought this was a good time. While it did help me calm down with the poetry, it made me think of the after life. Is there an afterlife? I decided I don't believe in one anymore. I use to think I'd go to one, but it just causes me to have anxiety if I think I'm going somewhere after this life. If we die, I think, we just die. Nothing more.

Looking at some of these reviews not many of them talk about the poetry of this book. It gives us some great inspiration for fantasy stories. Most of the time it read like Dante or Revelation to me. Someone's interpretation of the afterlife set in sections and weird god-like beings. The next time someone argues with me whether or not Buddhism is a religion I'm going to ask them if they ever read this book. It's clear Buddhism is a religion more than a philosophy.

Although I don't believe any of this, I will take away some points and ideas from this book. This isn't a book you just read and forget about within a week. This will say with you. Also, I found this edition extremely helpful. It has a ton of notes, a glossary, and background information that will help you understand the text. Plus, it has some cool art of the deities as well. ( )
1 vote Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
This read was primarily done for research purposes but the content was interesting enough to make it a pleasure. My favorite part was actually the preface to the version I read which was written by Carl Jung and gave a depth to things I would have missed otherwise. The content of the book itself was difficult to comprehend on its own, but there are a number of outside resources that helped with that, including trusty old Wikipedia. If you are a student of comparative religion, interested in the Bardo, or looking for some fresh ideas for the Sacred nature in your own writing, then please read this book. ( )
  jamestomasino | Sep 11, 2021 |
Outstanding book that gives perspective to how the Tibetan culture views death and the afterlife. No matter one's religious background, I found these writings comforting to a topic that scares me to no end. ( )
  Miloh | Jul 24, 2008 |
The Penguin Classics 2005 hardbound edition is the first complete translation of the whole cycle, rather than just the section that has been translated many times before (chapter 11 in this edition). It also includes introductions, notes and general interpretation aid from actual holders of the lineage/transmission, which probably makes it more accurate than many alternatives (given how heavily Vajrayana Buddhism relies on oral transmission).

What I appreciated most was the translation itself (by Gyume Dorje), done in prose (while preserving line breaks) and aiming to clarity and precision rather than "beauty". Given that beauty is a subjective concept, I tend to find 19th century translation of Buddhist texts rather unreadable: this edition is as readable as the subject allows.

I heartily recommend this edition to anybody who wants to read the "Tibetan book of the dead".

As for the content itself, I don't feel it can be rated. It is a classic from an ancient spiritual tradition, and as such its value depends on one's spiritual path and practice. For myself, having read it, I cannot help seeing it as magic rather than spirituality (despite being myself a buddhist and influenced by Tibetan buddhism among other schools). It is fascinating as an anthropological and cultural document, but I haven't found it useful as a spiritual tool. In this I obviously differ from countless generations of Tibetan buddhists: my judgment is not to be taken as condemnation, but as a personal view based on my own inclination and experience.
4 vote AnnaOok | Aug 10, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Padmasambhavaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Karma Lingpamain authorall editionsconfirmed
Beer, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blair, KellyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brant, RosemaryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coleman, GrahamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dalai Lama XIVIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorje, GyurmeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guarisco, ElioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hillis, GregoryForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hillis, Gregory AlexanderForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jinpa, ThuptenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Samdupe, K. D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simmons, NancyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, HustonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zla-ba-bsam-'grub, KaziContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
May all sentient beings, / 
children of buddha nature, / 
realise / 
the ultimate nature of mind: / 
insight and compassion, / 
in blissful union.
Dedication
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The question of whether or not there exists a continuity of consciousness after death has been an important aspect of philosophical reflection and debate from ancient Indian times to the present.
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This is the first complete translation of "The Tibetan Book of the Dead", currently published by Penguin Classics, translated by Gyurme Dorje and edited by Graham Coleman and Thupten Jinpa; the book is attributed to Padmasambhava, was transcribed by his student Yeshe Tsogyal, and rediscovered by Karma Lingpa, so any of these authors may show up in the author field for the various editions. It sometimes shows up under Evans-Wentz, which is a mistake, because this edition is very different from Evans-Wentz's older, abridged one. Please DO NOT combine with other editions, unless you can confirm they are also complete translations.
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The most graceful English translation of this masterpiece of world literature - prepared with the participation of the Dalai Lama and eminent contemporary masters of this tradition appointed by the Dalai Lama One of the greatest works created by any culture and one of the most influential of all Tibetan Buddhist texts in the West, The Tibetan Book of the Dead has had a number of distinguished translations, but strangely all of these have been partial abridgements. Now the entire text has not only been made available in English but in a translation of quite remarkable clarity and beauty. A comprehensive guide to living and dying, The Tibetan Book of the Dead contains exquisitely written guidance and practices related to transforming our experience in daily life, on the processes of dying and the after-death state, and on how to help those who are dying. As originally intended this is as much a work for the living, as it is for those who wish to think beyond a mere conventional lifetime to a vastly greater and grander cycle. 'Extraordinary ... this work will be a source of inspiration and support to many' His Holiness the Dalai Lama About the authors: Commentary by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Thupten Jinpa is the senior translator to the Dalai Lama and President of the Institute of Tibetan Classics. Graham Coleman is founder of the Orient Foundation for Arts and Culture, a major Tibetan cultural conservancy organization, and writer-director of the acclaimed feature documentary Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy. Gyurme Dorje is a leading scholar of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, from which the Tibetan Book of the Dead literature derives.

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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