The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

About four months ago Fisk had a dream that he went to Tibet.  It was a lovely dream that moved him to purchase a few books about Tibet and this was one of them. I picked this book up for a change of pace, since I hadn't really read much about Buddhism, though I knew this was the most current response to the well known; The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

There were phases in the process of reading this book. As with most things, at first I was overly illuminated, reading each page eagerly. I felt like I was learning a lot about ideas I had yet to consider - it was very exciting.  Rinpoche states "We often wonder what to do about negativity or certain troubling emotions.  In the spaciousness of meditation, you can view your thoughts and emotions with a totally unbiased attitude. When your attitude changes, then the whole atmosphere of your mind changes, even the very nature of your thoughts and emotions.  When you become more agreeable, then they do; if you have no difficulty with them, they have no difficulty with you either." pg. 78!

Once Rinpoche began to speak about the nature of ego, my own ego became defensive. I could feel my thoughts trying to discredit or feel cynical about what I was reading. My ego didn't want to let me believe that clarity of mind and happiness could be such easy things to accomplish - with dedication and practice. This didn't last too long, once the details of karma and meditation began to make themselves clear through the thoughts and examples provided by Rinpoche - I was immediately engaged again.

What was most wonderful about this text was how specifically Rinpoche describes the stages of death. A large point that he made was that only in understanding how to die, that one can truly understand what it means to live. The steps of death were clear, the strategies one needs to move peacefully through death are provided and leaves one with the wonderful idea that death is not something to be afraid of.

I could very naturally talk about this book for hours - it really satisfies a spiritual aspect of life that feels like it's missing most of the time. This text is one that I would love to read again, and I may just read it at least once a year from now on. The number of wonderful, compassionate and kind ideas Rinpoche communicates is amazing - definitely worth reading.

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