Sogyal Rinpoche was born in Tibet and became quite used to death. He witnessed the death of Samten, one of the personal attendants of his master, at the age of seven. He says that after Samten’s death he found it had taught him something. While death may seem like a horrible thing, the dying often welcome it with open arms. Sogyal also witnessed another death and saw how Lama Tseten, tutor to his master’s spiritual wife, became completely at peace and confident of death at the time of his passing.
He learnt that death is nothing to be scared of and that in time he might welcome it too when it is time for him to leave the physical world.
Sogyal talks about how he visited the Western world and saw how we treat death. He says that most often we are taught to deny death and that it means nothing but annihilation and ultimate loss. Some even look at death in a different way altogether - with cheerfulness. He notes the differences between people’s views on this and contemplates.
Personally, I find the whole thing regarding death morbid and it does scare me. After all, who knows what happens when we pass over? There might be nothingness - a sort of hell if you look at it deeply. Or maybe it is heaven, maybe your soul lives on in harmony and peace. Perhaps the troubled souls that cannot leave behind the world as they knew it haunt areas once special to them in human life. The whole subject is little known to anyone: scientists tell us one theory mediums tell us another. Who really knows?
Sogyal adds that according to the wisdom of Buddha, we can actually use our lives to prepare for death. That means finding a meaning in life and using every moment to change and prepare. I don’t know what I make of this - everything about this book is deep. Maybe it might be too deep for some people? I know it was for me. I struggled to find what Sogyal meant at times but when I understood, I was absorbed and a little uncomfortable with his deep philosophy.
Chapter two, Impermanence, talks about why it is so hard to practise death. I personally don’t wish to practise this. Call me a typical Westerner but as far as I’m concerned I think life is for living, not dwelling on death.
The author says that while death is a vast mystery, two things are for sure: it is certain we will die and it is uncertain how or when we will die.Again, very intense words to digest but the more you hear this the less terrible it sounds.
Meditation is a good way of solving life’s problems - discussed later. Find yourself a nice calm, quiet place and let yourself go. There are lots of books on meditation that claim to give you inner peace and help others. My mother practises this and chants every morning. I’m not sure if it helps but Buddhists claim it does. I suppose these are our teachers and they do seem to have a greater knowledge than we do.
I have read many books on spirituality and all seem to speak the same message. This one is different, indeed, taking a completely deeper look at the meaning. It is packed with information on Buddhism and what life is and why.
It is one of those rare books that you have to read and re-read over and over again to fully digest the messages. Each page seems to be packed with priceless words of wisdom.
A huge book - this is like the Buddhist bible.
So much to learn. This is an up-dated edition of the first Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
Read it and become enlightened with a better knowledge. What you will learn within these pages will change your views forever and keep you captivated. Mind boggling but highly recommended.
The above review was contributed by: Jessica Roberts:Jessica is a book reviewer for a local newspaper and has reviewed for a national women's magazine too. She has had various articles published in magazines and has now completed her novel. Jessica currently lives in West Yorkshire and enjoys walking in the dales and woodlands as part of her hobby as well as, of course, reviewing books. To read more of Jessica's reviews CLICK HERE
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