Living, Dreaming, Dying: Wisdom for Everyday Life from the Tibetan Book of the Dead

Living, Dreaming, Dying: Wisdom for Everyday Life from the Tibetan Book of the Dead

by Rob Nairn, Seventeenth Karmapa
     
 

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The Tibetan Book of the Dead is one of the best-known Tibetan Buddhist texts. It is also one of the most difficult texts for Westerners to understand. In Living, Dreaming, Dying, Rob Nairn presents the first interpretation of this classic text using a modern Western perspective, avoiding arcane religious terminology, keeping his explanations grounded

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Overview

The Tibetan Book of the Dead is one of the best-known Tibetan Buddhist texts. It is also one of the most difficult texts for Westerners to understand. In Living, Dreaming, Dying, Rob Nairn presents the first interpretation of this classic text using a modern Western perspective, avoiding arcane religious terminology, keeping his explanations grounded in everyday language. Nairn explores the concepts used in this highly revered work and brings out their meaning and significance for our daily life. He shows readers how the Tibetan Book of the Dead can help us understand life and self as well as the dying process.

Living, Dreaming, Dying helps readers to "live deliberately"—and confront death deliberately. One thing that prevents us from doing that, according to Nairn, is our tendency to react fearfully whenever change occurs. But if we confront our fear of change and the unknown, we can learn to flow gracefully with the unfolding circumstances of life rather than be at their mercy.

Of course, change occurs throughout our life, but a period of transition also occurs as we pass from the waking state into sleep, and likewise as we pass into death. Therefore the author's teachings apply equally to living as well as to dreaming and dying.

Through meditation instructions and practical exercises, the author explains how to:

   •  Explore the mind through the cultivation of deep meditation states and expanded consciousness
   •  Develop awareness of negative tendencies
   •  Use deep sleep states and lucid dreaming to increase self-understanding as well as to "train" oneself in how to die so that one is prepared for when the time comes
   •  Confront and liberate oneself from fear of death and the unknown

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a guide to liberating the mind from illusion in the bardo of death. In order to accomplish this, it is necessary to train the mind in this life by developing kindness, compassion, and wisdom. Rob Nairn is offering a modern psychological perspective with the hope that it will be easier for people to understand and apply these ancient teachings to their lives."—His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa

"This book will benefit many beings."—His Eminence the Twelfth Tai Situpa

"Rob Nairn integrates the insights of Jungian psychology with the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to explain the relationships between day-to-day life, our experience of dreaming, and the opportunity for enlightenment that arises when we die. This excellent book speaks directly to the reader in a style free from jargon, and shows with great clarity how we can begin right now to prepare for a skillful death."—Francesca Fremantle, author of Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead and co-translator, with Chögyam Trungpa, of The Tibetan Book of the Dead

"Beautifully written, Living, Dreaming, Dying is at once a profound description of and an accessible guide to the most fundamental aspects of ourselves—the great mysteries of birth, death, and what lies between. Highly recommended."—Joseph Goldstein, author of One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism

Publishers Weekly
"Death is our greatest opportunity" for enlightenment, claims Nairn, a student of Jungian psychology and international teacher of Buddhism. Drawing parallels between the "unseen psychological forces" operating in the human mind and the teachings in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Nairn outlines six distinct consciousness-states, called bardos, that humans encounter-three in life and three in death. By appropriately training one's mind in the life bardos-gaining skill in lucid dreaming and mindfulness, for example-one can "die skillfully" and (after dying) recognize and exploit the unique opportunities the death bardos offer for enlightenment. Having laid this foundation, Nairn then addresses such topics as overcoming fear and habitual tendencies, cultivating compassion, helping the dying and assisting the dead-by, for example, reading to the corpse to encourage the person (now in the death bardos) to "merge with the bright light." Nairn often blends disciplines, as when he sets traditional Buddhist teachings on attachment within the psychological concept of projection. At times Nairn's discussions, particularly his descriptions of the death bardos, are vivid and engaging, but at other times he writes in terms so broad that his meaning is obscured rather than elucidated. Dedicated students, however, may find that Nairn's unique psychology-oriented approach provides a "workable angle" into the esoteric teachings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Trained in Jungian psychology and a teacher of Buddhist meditation, Nairn unites those two worldviews in this introduction to the Tibetan Book of the Dead (the Bardo Thodol). The Bardo guides the dying, telling them what to expect and what to do in the realms between death and rebirth. Nairn instructs readers on how to act in this life in view of the coming afterlife. His approach is valid but will concern mainly those who agree with both Jungian and Buddhist psychologies, presumably a narrow audience; readers who don't agree with the doctrines of archetypes and reincarnation will likely be put off. Such a limiting supposition of doctrinal belief is unfortunate, because Nairn's book is filled with reasonable advice for living a thoughtful (mindful) and compassionate life. Appropriate for scholarly readers and others with Buddhist backgrounds and recommended for academic libraries. James F. DeRoche, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590301326
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
08/03/2004
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
777,069
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Rob Nairn's training in psychology and Buddhist practice brings him a unique ability to explain ancient Eastern concepts in modern, accessible terms. The author of What Is Meditation? and Diamond Mind, he is sought after internationally as a lecturer on Buddhist philosophy and meditation.

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