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Tibetan Book of the Dead

Chandra2010-07-05 14:58:21 +0000 #1
This is a correspondence between myself and Hamsa which we would like to open up to the general group for discussion, it was originally sent as a private email, and we will put in our thread of discussion over the next day or two. Please feel free to jump in!

Dear Hamsa,

Seems you frequently have the opportunity to assist people making the

transition from the physical world and/or contemplating it. You have

probably some if not a lot of familiarity with the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I found a web site with good information (I think), and thought you might like to check it out. I am interested in the yogic approach to death and using the awareness of death to facilitate living. I will be reading from here as well.

Love and Light,

Hamsa2010-07-05 15:00:04 +0000 #2
Dear Chandra,

Thank you for your suggestion, and for the information about the website.

In working with cancer patients on an individual basis, I often use both the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and a wonderful contemporary book that expounds on this material, titled The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. In working one-on-one, I have found many students with cancer (or other life-challenging illnesses) open to the beautiful, life-enriching ideas in these works. However, when I work in groups of cancer patients, I have been a bit hesitant about using this material. Since this is a group setting, rather than a one-on-one setting where the students can make it clear to me what they are open to, I am not sure how appropriate it is for me to offer these thoughts. After all, who am I, a healthy yogini, to lecture to these courageous, beautiful students about how their illness might be their teacher, or how this time in their lives that can help them live more fully, with more grace and consciousness? I wonder, will they see my reading of these texts as supremely arrogant?

I see these wonderful students as my teachers -- I learn so much from them! And, though I recognize the great potential value of these teachings for students battling a life-threatening disease, I hesitate to offer anything that might be hurtful or disturbing, in a group setting where I usually can't have a direct interaction with individual students and therefore don't know how such messages will be received and processed, or what impact they will have.

I would love to know what others' experiences with such students have been.




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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Hamsa on 2002-05-19 15:17 ]</font>
Chandra2010-07-05 15:30:33 +0000 #3
Dear Hamsa,

I am knee deep in housekeeping, but have a minute or two now. Perhaps amore thought out response will come later...

Seems to me the main point you are considering is 2 part. 1) you have seen and witnessed the benefit of both living and dying in an attitude of being informed by death (have you ever read Carlos Castenada? Don Juan was the shaman and this anthropologist from CA was the apprentice - anyway - one of the main themes the teacher offerred was that Death should be one's guide, rather than being this thing we deny or avoid thinking about) and 2) you are not sure when it is appropriate to offer this material.

Hmmm.... Couple thoughts. Is it possible to offer the insights of the

Tibetan Book of the Dead without referencing the particular "ideology" from which you became familiar with them? Many of these thoughts are universal truths and accessible to a variety of people, both religious and nonreligious, and are reflected in various traditions. Is it possible to distill the essence of the teaching and present it in a nondogmatic way to a broad audience? Obviously, working with a group one cannot offer individual coaching, but reflections to guide the mind down the pathway of it's relationship with the Source of it's existence.... the state of Being - the

process of letting go of the activities of everyday life. In a way, this is what we practice as "deep relaxation" or Savasana - dying to the activity body level of existence and opening to a deeper layer of self (or Self if one can!...I keep trying!) Can you present how the teaching offers lessons both to this living and the dying - finding common ground with your students? I am thinking of John MacEnulty, and the things he has written about how the turns of fate and illness have changed his life. If the goal in the transition is to avoid identification with the nonreality states which bind us to another round of existence, but rather to identify with Consciousness itself (seems a lot like what we practice in yoga on an ongoing basis...) can we not offer meditation to those who are facing life, illness or death, as a path of self discovery - what I mean is, there will be those who are ready for the whole banana, and the Tibetan Book of the

Dead can be brought straight out for them...there are others who are ready for a new mental approach to life, and something much less direct like letting go and daily relaxation periods may be appropriate for them. And in between there will be others who are prepared to test the waters of awareness with meditation, affirmation, reflection etc.

I must apologize for not being as familiar with the Book as I would like to be or should be to answer your thoughtful questions. I will do some reading and thinking, and would like to follow this line of discussion with you some more....think I could learn something here....

Love and Light,




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