This is the highly acclaimed book of Sogyal Rinpoche that many people have on their bookshells. My Dutch version also has a forword by “the Dalai Lama”, the Tibetan leader in banishment.
As the title suggests, this book is based on the Tibetan Book Of The Dead (Bardo Tödol), but it is very different from this classic work and what is more important: Rinpoches book is also understandable for the average man from the West.
However “the laughing lama” was born and raised in Tibet, he has spent most of his life in our regions and knows a lot about our society. He thought that it was important that the west also got a proper book about living and dying that was understandable and helpfull for the common western man. Many lectures and lessons he has given all through the western world and eventually he wrote the book this review deals with.
This book is divided in four parts:
-part one: living;
-part two: dying;
-part three: death and reincarnation;
-part four: conclusion.
Part one tells us about our way of living, many things we know, other things are so common to us we don’t even notice, but our Tibetan friend did. Rinpoche tells us about better living, with more attention to our deaths, which is a subject that the western society pushed in a far corner, while it is actually part of daily life.
The way Rinpoche speaks about death is totally different from the average western way of looking at it and will possibly take away some of the fear that many people feel.
The best part of the book is that however English isn’t Rinpoches mother language, the book is really very good to read and Rinpoche has a very nice writing style, nice sence of humour and a very direct way of saying things. He also doesn’t try to impress us with technical Tibetan term like many new-age movements do, but explains what he wants to say in normal English. This makes the book a good start for anyone who isn’t familiar with the Eastern view on living and dying, because you don’t need to have background knowledge about Hinduism or Buddism. The greatest part is that while reading this book, you will learn quite a bit about it anyway, because Rinpoche tells a lot of things about his youth and this gives a very nice picture of the Tibetan culture and religious systems.
All in all I can totally understand why so many people have bought and enjoyed this book, since it deserves to be read by anyone. A very light book about a heavy subject (in the west) and you will not only learn about death, but (more importantly) also about living. It is also a book that you can keep reading again and again.