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August 16 , 2008

Luminous Emptiness

Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead


The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a best-seller for three decades, is one of the most widely read texts of Tibetan Buddhism. Over the years, it has been studied and cherished by Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. Luminous Emptiness is a detailed guide to this classic work, elucidating its mysterious concepts, terms, and imagery. Fremantle relates the symbolic world of the Tibetan Book of the Dead to the experiences of everyday life, presenting the text not as a scripture for the dying, but as a guide for the living.

According to the Buddhist view, nothing is permanent or fixed. The entire world of our experience is constantly appearing and disappearing at every moment. Using vivid and dramatic imagery, the Tibetan Book of the Dead presents the notion that most of us are living in a dream that will continue from lifetime to lifetime until we truly awaken by becoming enlightened. Here, Fremantle, who worked closely with Chögyam Trungpa on the 1975 translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Shambhala), brings the expertise of a lifetime of study to rendering this intriguing classic more accessible and meaningful to the living.

Luminous Emptiness features in-depth explanations of:

  • The Tibetan Buddhist notions of death and rebirth
  • The meaning of the five energies and the five elements in Tibetan Buddhism
  • The mental and physical experience of dying, according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition
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