Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead

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In Luminous Emptiness, Francesca Fremantle presents the classic Tibetan Book of the Dead not as a scripture to be read to the dying but as a guide for the living. Fremantle, who worked closely with Chogyam Trungpa on the 1975 translation of the original text, brings the expertise of a lifetime of study to rendering this intriguing classic more accessible and meaningful.
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Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead

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Overview

In Luminous Emptiness, Francesca Fremantle presents the classic Tibetan Book of the Dead not as a scripture to be read to the dying but as a guide for the living. Fremantle, who worked closely with Chogyam Trungpa on the 1975 translation of the original text, brings the expertise of a lifetime of study to rendering this intriguing classic more accessible and meaningful.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1975, Shambhala published The Tibetan Book of the Dead, whose actual name is less catchy: The Great Liberation through Hearing during the Immediate State. (This misnomer originated with W.Y. Evans-Wentz's initial English translation in 1927, piggy-backing on The Egyptian Book of the Dead's popularity at that time.) The 1975 version of Padmasambhava's original eighth-century text, translated by Fremantle and Chegyam Trungpa, strengthened a bridge between Tibetan Buddhism and the West, and it stills sells briskly. To pay tribute to her teacher Trungpa, Fremantle offers this commentary to expound upon and clarify the spiritual classic. Her solo work here is a blend of high intellectualism, readability and spiritual gifts that successfully enhance the understanding of the bardos, or stages, between life and death. The commentary's first part examines the text's foundations, illuminating its rich concepts, while the second applies this clarified knowledge to newly translated excerpts. As Trungpa once observed, the text could just as easily be called The Tibetan Book of Birth; it is indeed a manual about death, the "process of dissolution, but also the process of coming into being, and these two processes are continually at work in every moment of life." Fremantle wrote this for "everyone who feels attracted to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, whether they are Buddhist or not." Except for the most dedicated students, this is not a book for beginners, but it will provide expert assistance for those who yearn to contemplate Tibetan Buddhism's deeper fathoms. (Dec.) Forecast: Fremantle's association with the 1975 translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and with Chegyam Trungpa, should help this become an enduring backlist title for Shambhala. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
A scholar in Sanskrit and Tibetan, Fremantle is more than qualified to write this guide; she collaborated with renowned meditation master and scholar Chegyam Trungpa on a well-received translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead in 1975. Nothing less than a careful explanation of the world and the ideas that surround that text, this new work is an excellent and plainly written manual to the complex mythologies, symbols, philosophies, and doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism. The West could hardly ask for a better primer. Highly recommended. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A deeply heartfelt guide to spiritual fulfillment through Buddhism, Luminous Emptiness provides interested seekers with a journey through the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and Fremantle is an expert guide."—Los Angeles Times

"A scholar in Sanskrit and Tibetan, Fremantle is more than qualified to write this guide; she collaborated with renowned meditation master and scholar Chögyam Trungpa on a well-received translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead in 1975. Nothing less than a careful explanation of the world and the ideas that surround that text, this new work is an excellent and plainly written manual to the complex mythologies, symbols, philosophies, and doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism. The West could hardly ask for a better primer. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"In Luminous Emptiness, Francesca Fremantle provides a commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead that integrates its teachings with both the central topics of the Buddhist canon and with the ongoing experiences of our lives. Her illuminating exposition of the inner meanings and relevance of the text's tantric symbolism reflects many years of study, contemplation and practice. Luminous Emptiness is valuable in making the root text more meaningful and suggestive. It succeeds in enlivening our appreciation of the immense possibilities which we are offered now, moment to moment."—Shambhala Sun

"This is the most lucid and comprehensive exposition of the Tibetan Book of the Dead to appear in English. It illuminates the esoteric path and reveals the way to heal life's miseries—the projection of our minds."—Tulku Thondup, author of the Healing Power of Mind and Boundless Healing

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570624506
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/26/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.35 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Francesca Fremantle received her doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University. She is a scholar and translator of Sanskrit and Tibetan works and was a student of Chögyam Trungpa for many years.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Pt. 1 Foundations
Ch. 1 A Book of the Living 5
Ch. 2 Liberation: Uncoiling in Space 21
Ch. 3 Hearing: The Power of Transmission 43
Ch. 4 Bardo: The Experience of Nowness 53
Ch. 5 The Rainbow of Elements 71
Ch. 6 The Five-Step Process of Ego 91
Ch. 7 The Display of the Awakened State 111
Ch. 8 Six Styles of Imprisonment 141
Ch. 9 The Threefold Pattern of the Path 173
Ch. 10 The Great Perfection 195
Pt. 2 The Text
Ch. 11 Luminosity of Death 217
Ch. 12 Invincible Peace 249
Ch. 13 Crazy Wisdom 289
Ch. 14 Wrathful Compassion 307
Ch. 15 At the Womb Door 345
Aspiration 369
Notes 371
Illustration Credits 383
Index 385
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