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Living in the Light of Death Hardcover – August 1, 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Those aches and pains, that sagging and graying--the booby trap of death is hidden in the undergrowth of the future, but how far into the future? One of the Buddha's great realizations was of the reality of aging and death. As Larry Rosenberg points out, it's not the reality that is the problem but what our minds do with it. One of America's leading meditation teachers, Rosenberg has in his repertoire a time-honored meditation practice: death meditation. In a sense, all Buddhist meditation is about facing impermanence, but death meditation is facing the ultimate impermanence. In Living in the Light of Death, Rosenberg brings forth some of his best anecdotes from his stays in foreign lands (and other painful experiences) to illustrate that aging, illness, and death can not only try us but teach us as well. To meditate on them is to initiate that teaching process. What Rosenberg has realized and tried to pass on to others is that although we cannot avoid the painful or frightening phenomena of the body, they do not have to weigh us down and can instead lend a lightheartedness to living. --Brian Bruya

From Publishers Weekly

"We know in our heads we will die," says Rosenberg. "But we have to know it in our hearts. We have to let this fact penetrate our bones. Then we will know how to live." Rosenberg, founder and teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Cambridge, Mass., believes that part of being human means refusing to embrace or even acknowledge our fates, avoiding the subjects of illness, pain, aging and death. However, it is his contention that if and when we can become so intimate with these facts of life that we can accept them as such and let go of the emotional agendas that accompany them, we will become truly liberated. Rosenberg explains the practice of "death awareness," an ancient tradition that uses the Buddha's five contemplations on death for meditation exercises. The first three state that aging, illness and death are unavoidable, and the last two stress personal growth and responsibility for one's actions. Gearing his book toward novices as well as those who practice meditation, Rosenberg very capably teaches correct meditation practice and defines Buddhist terms. He is honest about what he doesn't know, such as what actually happens after death. The book is occasionally marred by Rosenberg's irritating name-dropping of "famous teachers and masters I have known"; otherwise, it is a worthy read. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; First Edition edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570624259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570624254
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,194,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book stands out from the crowded genre of authors dealing with loss, pain, and death. Most of the books I have read on the subject focus on the struggle against death and against pain, but while Larry Rosenberg certainly supports the idea that you should embrace life, he takes an honest look at what happens to people who will lose the fight--a group that, in the final analysis, includes everyone.
Rosenberg is one of the few authors I have read with the courage to address the inevitable and to show us how to embrace what we can delay, but what we cannot prevent. Using examples from a wide variety of cultures, he looks at the way in which others face death, and shows us what lessons we can learn as we approach the ends of our lives. Whether you hope to live for eight more weeks or eighty more years, Rosenberg has an important message for you.
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By A Customer on August 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is brilliant..........using death awareness as subject, the author shows us how we can actually live in freedom now, today. His clear, experiential understanding of the dharma is revealed over and over again throughout and his convicted and loving embrace of it is an amazing gift, given graciously, to us all. One of the finest dharma books ever written!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent, down-to-earth, practical and clear explanation of the most essential concepts of Buddhism, namely impermanence, aging, sickness, and death. Although these are topics most of us would rather sweep under the rug, the author makes a great case for confronting these issues head on. His point is that when confronted we can live our lives truer to our inner selves. The writing is clear. The analogies are simple and directly applicable. The author is honest and his sharing of his own journey helpful to the reader. This book has helped me understand these important concepts in Buddhism and I highly recommend it.
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By A Customer on June 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a new practitioner to the Buddhist way of life, I felt that this book distilled several books/teachings I've encountered on finding happiness in the present. I heartily recommend it to anyone living - especially those living in a fast-paced society.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of my favorite books ever.

It asks us to take the elephant out of the closet. That elephant is that we are all alive and at some point we each will experience our own death.

That actually was very empowering for me - it helps me to make decisions about things I thought I had no choice over such as how I want to respond to certain people, situations, past experiences, and anticipations of future events.

Somehow, by really getting that I will experience my own death, my present reality and choices have come more into focus.

I like how the author writes - he is kind, firm, funny and insightful all at one time. I highly recommend this as well as his other books. Breath by Breath was a great one too!
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Format: Paperback
This book changed my life. Oddly enough, it made a huge improvement in my OCD symptoms and hoarding symptoms. I was able to "let go" of a lot of things I'd been so strongly attached to, and prevent myself from getting so emotionally attached to new items that come into my life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great wake up call. I had cancer in my 60's (14 years ago). That was a wake up call too. Might sound scary, but in the end, these contemplations gear you to appreciate life and be grateful.
Larry's writing is full of compassion, makes you feel a friend is close.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Possibly the only book that you need to read to get a perfect understanding on how life works. Larry Rosenberg writes this in simple language that is very easy to understand. I have studied these principles in my life as a Buddhist and these are presented in a non sectarian approach. I would say that this is a MUST read for anyone who wants to learn about our true nature.
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