Imagine that as you leave your body at death, you hear the voice of a loved one whispering in your ear explanations of everything you see in the world beyond. Unlike other translations of Bar do thos grol
(or The Tibetan Book of the Dead
), Robert Thurman's takes literally the entire gamut of metaphysical assumptions. Thurman translates Bar do thos grol
as The Great Book of Natural Liberation through Understanding in the Between
. It is one of many mortuary texts of the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism and is commonly recited to or by a person facing imminent death. Thurman reproduces it for this purpose, explaining in some depth the Tibetan conception of postmortem existence. Over as many as 12 days, the deceased person is given explanations of what he or she sees and experiences and is guided through innumerable visions of the realms beyond to reach eventual liberation, or, failing that, a safe rebirth. Like a backpacker's guide to a foreign land, Thurman's version is clear, detailed, and sympathetic to the inexperienced voyager. It includes background and supplementary information, and even illustrations (sorry, no maps). Don't wait until the journey has begun. Every page should be read and memorized well ahead of time. --Brian Bruya
From Library Journal
The Dalai Lama's blessing attends Thurman's translation of the Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between. Composed by Padma Sambhava in the late eighth century, this text minutely describes the "betweens" ( Bardos ) or after-death transition states. Thurman, who opens this work with a new section of preliminary prayers, gives a helpful commentary in terms Westerners can understand and boldface portions to be read aloud in the presence of the dead. He closes by appending Nyingma tradition works to the main text. This text has already been translated in 1927 and 1975, and some of Thurman's new translation choices are questionable. For instance, the West has adopted the term karma , which expresses the original meaning better than evolution --an alternative that obscures the personal responsibility emphasized in Buddhism. In addition, since Tibetan pronouns are sexually neutral, alternating his with her from verse to verse confuses. Still, Westerners will find this a colorful, awesome journey. For informed readers.- Dara Eklund, Los Angeles P.L.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.