Why is the book "Tibetan Book of the Dead" so popular amongst non-Buddhists / beginners

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Re: Why is the book "Tibetan Book of the Dead" so popular amongst non-Buddhists / beginners

Post by Miorita »

I try an answer.
The book takes you on a journey, from the Tibetan perspective, past death, to the journey, according to them, each of us is to take after our lives here.
For everything else, there are rules, rituals, customs readied by the Church.
The moment of death, of separation is a moment one would be willing to lower their self-imposed stance to ideas of other religions than Christianity and search into "other beliefs". It is in human nature to explore the unknown.
Once the book is published, it will have a circulation. Eventually the book meets its readers and by choice they read the book.
Then it becomes a go-to book for explanations outside common beliefs on death and dying.
To read it would not imply studying Mādhyamika. It appears as light reading, yet "transformative" and explanatory.
So that is how it happens: someone who read it introduces you to it.

It can have competition from the Kali cult. A typical motivation will be: "I prefer the human, don't expose me to gods!" because the church does not allow gods, idols. It's not only the content but the context playing a part as well.

There is "The Christian Book of the Dead What do Catholics believe about the fate of the soul after death?" to give answers, but the first book already hit a spot. So that's why is popular: it caught the clergy (East and West) off the guard.

The central character in this story is Walter Evans-Wentz (1878-1965), an eccentric scholar and spiritual seeker from Trenton, New Jersey, who, despite not knowing the Tibetan language and never visiting the country, crafted and named The Tibetan Book of the Dead. In fact, Lopez argues, Evans-Wentz's book is much more American than Tibetan, owing a greater debt to Theosophy and Madame Blavatsky than to the lamas of the Land of Snows. Indeed, Lopez suggests that the book's perennial appeal stems not only from its origins in magical and mysterious Tibet, but also from the way Evans-Wentz translated the text into the language of a very American spirituality.
As you see, there are many books. If I were to sell one to you, which would you prefer?
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Re: Why is the book "Tibetan Book of the Dead" so popular amongst non-Buddhists / beginners

Post by Malcolm »

Aemilius wrote: Sun Feb 06, 2022 3:34 pm
Malcolm wrote: Sun Feb 06, 2022 3:27 pm
Aemilius wrote: Sun Feb 06, 2022 3:06 pm

It is much earlier than that. What are the names of the youth- and subculture movements in 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's?

"Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz (February 2, 1878 – July 17, 1965) was an American anthropologist and writer who was a pioneer in the study of Tibetan Buddhism, and in transmission of Tibetan Buddhism to the Western world, most known for publishing an early English translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead in 1927. He had three other texts translated from the Tibetan: Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa (1928), Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines (1935), and The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation (1954), and wrote the preface to Paramahansa Yogananda's famous spiritual book, Autobiography of a Yogi (1946)."
Yes, and he understood none of them and interpreted all of them through the cloudy lens of Theosophy. His publications are useful for understanding the progress of the reception of Buddhism in the west, but importantly, none of his books are accurate and immediately attracted the attention of early Tibetan arrivals for their lack of accuracy. Of course the Sikkimese gentleman who translated these for him understood them perfectly well, but Evans-Wentz’s editing distorted these translations not to mention his introductions, etc.
Your eye of transcendental wisdom is lacking in compassionate understanding of the times and people of those times, I would kindly suggest.
I would suggest that EW’s publications were quite typical of colonialism, and nothing like Csoma De Koros pioneering work.
Vases, canvas, bucklers, armies, forests, garlands, trees
houses, chariots, hostelries, and all such things
that common people designate dependent on their parts,
accept as such. For Buddha did not quarrel with the world!

—— Candrakīrti. MAV 6:166
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Re: Why is the book "Tibetan Book of the Dead" so popular amongst non-Buddhists / beginners

Post by Dmitry »

This book describes near death experience (NDE). Bardo stages. For example Human Design system describes bardo stages. Meditation process sometimes can drop to the NDE with bindu tonnel vision. So this is very interesting for beginners.
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Re: Why is the book "Tibetan Book of the Dead" so popular amongst non-Buddhists / beginners

Post by Agent Smith »

It's good to have a manual that goes into as much detail as the Tibetan Book of the Dead for how to find one's way postmortem to the so-called Pure Land or pull of a return to samsara at the same/higher level you were before you passed on. The tome is a treasure trove of information on death & dying and how to deal with them when it happens, which it will, eventually. The catch is to remember it all.
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