The Tibetan Book of the Dead


by Robert ThurmanLibrary Journal  – The Dalai Lama’s blessing attends Thurman’s translation of the Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between . Composed by Padma Sambhava in the late eighth century, this text minutely describes the “betweens” ( Bardos ) or after-death transition states. Thurman, who opens this work with a new section of preliminary prayers, gives a helpful commentary in terms Westerners can understand and boldface portions to be read aloud in the presence of the dead. He closes by appending Nyingma tradition works to the main text. This text has already been translated in 1927 and 1975, and some of Thurman’s new translation choices are questionable. For instance, the West has adopted the term karma , which expresses the original meaning better than evolution –an alternative that obscures the personal responsibility emphasized in Buddhism. In addition, since Tibetan pronouns are sexually neutral, alternating his with her from verse to verse confuses. Still, Westerners will find this a colorful, awesome journey.

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