Synopses & Reviews
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
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
"'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)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Makes the teachings of the best-selling Tibetan Buddhist classic relevant and meaningful for Western readers.
About 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.