by Karma-glin-pa (Karma Lingpa)
This book is the first English language translation of the famous Tibetan death text, The Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Intermediate State. Also known as the Bardo Thodol which means "liberation by hearing on the after death plane" (Bardo: after death plane, Thodol or Thotrol: liberation by hearing), it was originally written in the Tibetan language and is meant to be a guide for those who have died as they transition from their former life to a new destination.
The work has been traditionally attributed to Padma-Sambhava, an Indian mystic who was said to have introduced Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century. Legend has it that while visiting Tibet, Padma-Sambhava found it necessary to conceal sanskrit works he had arranged to be written. The Tibetans of that time were not ready for the spiritual teachings contained therein, so he hid his texts in strange and remote locations, leaving them to be discovered at a later time when their spiritual message could be received by those with an open mind.
The most famous of those that discovered and revealed Padma-Sambhava's writings was Karma Lingpa who was born around 1350 CE. According to his biography, Karma Lingpa found several hidden texts on top of a mountain in Tibet when he was fifteen years old. Within those texts, he found a collection of teachings entitled The Self-Emergence of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities from Enlightened Awareness. These teachings contained the texts of the now famous Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Bardo.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead was first published in 1927 by Oxford University Press, London. Dr. Walter Y. Evans-Wentz coined the title because of parallels he found with the writings of The Egyptian Book of the Dead. The paperback and hardcover editions of the book contain extensive notes by Evans-Wentz about the conclusions he drew from the translation which, some say, were greatly influenced by his involvement with Theosophy and neo-Vedantic Hindu views. A later edition of the book includes commentary by the renowned psychoanalyst, Dr. Carl Jung, whose insightful essay illustrates that this Tibetan text goes beyond a study of Tibetan culture and reaches into a psychology that has great relevance to the western world.
This e-book, made courtesy of Summum, represents the edited English translation taken from the first edition. Based upon our copyright status research, this edition appears to be in the United States public domain. If you believe this to be incorrect, please contact Summum with information as to why so that we may review your information and remove this e-book if necessary.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead can be quite difficult to read and understand since it was written for a different audience. However, we offer video broadcasts of readings of the book that include insightful discussions of its contents within the context of the Summum philosophy, the Summum rites of Modern Mummification, and what Summum terms as "Transference." Transference is that period of transition between one life and the next that occurs just before, during, and after death. The video discussions greatly help convey the intent and meaning of the book since they are in terms more easily understood by the western world.
You can access the video by clicking links that will appear along the left side of the pages as you read through the book. You will need the Adobe Flash player installed in order to watch the video. The player is available from Adobe.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation
Other Video Resources