Human Development Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


In The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche (2002) distills the essence of Tibetan Buddhist teachings into a format digestible for a modern Western audience. The central premise of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is that death can be a "teaching for us all," (Rinpoche, 2002, p. 3). The title of Rinpoche's book refers to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which describes the bardo, of transition between this life and the next. Through a concerted practice of meditation and spiritual discipline cultivated in the person's current lifetime, a practitioner can remain conscious through the bardo and therefore die as a self-empowered and spiritually aware being. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is divided into three main parts: sections on living, dying, and on death and rebirth. There is also a conclusion and appendixes. Rinpoche opens his Tibetan Book of Living and Dying with anecdotes from his personal encounters with death, beginning with the successive deaths of some of his spiritual mentors in Tibet. The author then compares the Tibetan attitude towards death and the practice of meditation with the Western attitudes that he finds unhealthy. As Rinpoche (2002) puts it, "Western society has no real understanding of death or what happens in death or after death" (p. 7). Unlike Tibetan monks, Westerners either fear death or are in denial of its importance for consciousness development.

The first section of the book is on living, which can be viewed as a training program in phowa, or "the practice of guiding the consciousness at the moment before death," (Rinpoche, 2002, p. 6). Rinpoche (2002) discusses the nature of mind, and how an unsettled mind creates conflict. A peaceful mind is one that is disciplined and focused. This life, moreover, is the "natural bardo," the first step towards…

Sources Used in Document:


Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying. New York: Scribner.

Rinpoche, S. (2002). The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. New York: Rigpa/Harper-Collins.

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