The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Apr 22

The Tibetan Book of the Dead

DEATH AS A JOURNEY…WHO KNEW? In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, or Bardo Thödol, death is described as a journey, and we, the living, are partially responsible for helping the recently deceased make that journey successfully.

In Western thought and Judeo-Christian belief systems, I don’t think there is a parallel.  Maybe the Jesuits or the Kabbalists have something to say on this topic, but the ancient Tibetan Buddhists seem to have a corner on this market. Please feel free to comment on this topic.

There is no Tibetan book called “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” but the actual translation of the title seems to be based on “The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State” as recited by Tibetan Buddhist lamas over a dying or recently deceased person, or sometimes an effigy of the deceased.

Why was the book written, and why do they do this?

What does this book say? You can probably pick up a copy at a new age bookstore, or on Amazon, but in brief, it describes a 49-day period (the square of their sacred number 7), when recently deceased people go through 4 stages of being “interval” or “bardo” between this life and the next rebirth. I’m not sure, but I think if the living do it correctly, they can help the person not have to be reborn again into suffering on this earth, but move beyond that.  It sounds kind of like praying for someone, or lighting a candle, which is OK, but I tend to believe we get what we really earn or deserve.  No one can pray us into or out of anything.  (But that’s just me)

What’s very cool is that it helps the living as much as the dead, I think, in their mourning of someone they recently lost.

I think I’ll pick up a copy and maybe make sure my husband and children have it when I die someday, just in case they can help me on to the next place…whatever that may be.

Someone recommended this English translation:  The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate Zone by Joe Schaepp.

Food for thought, anyway….what do you think?


  1. What an interesting perspective to have. The latest book on human memory reports that every single event is permanently stored in the Cerebral cortex which might mean that once we die, all of our memories will return to be re-experienced. Mayber that would be considered another chance to get it right??

    • admin /

      Thanks for stopping by, John! :)

      I think that’s the general concept – we don’t lose our wisdom, we just keep on coming back until we get it right. Another thought…Is the spiritual self made of some kind of matter, just a finer kind we haven’t learned how to measure yet?

      Whether it’s multiple lives on this earth, varying levels of afterlife to work through, or ???? I think we have eternal natures of some kind, and that none of this is without purpose. And even if there is no god pulling the strings, this eternal progression may just be a natural law, like gravity.

    • My porelbm was a wall until I read this, then I smashed it.

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