The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying - Summary and Key Ideas

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying provides a comprehensive guide on how to live fully and die fearlessly, based on ancient Tibetan teachings. It offers practical advice, meditative exercises, and personal anecdotes to illuminate the stages of living, dying, death, and rebirth.

The target group of this book is people of all backgrounds and professions, specifically those involved in the care of the dying such as families, doctors, nurses, clergy of all denominations, counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists. It also targets individuals seeking to understand the true meaning of life, death, and what happens after death.

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The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Key ideas


Discernment, depth over breadth, and commitment are key to a successful spiritual journey, avoiding the pitfalls of a 'shopping mentality' and the delusion of keeping all options open.


Meditation transcends cultural and religious barriers, transforming our mind, emotions, and body, and potentially leading to enlightenment.

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The nature of mind, likened to the sky, is a vast, luminous, and unobstructed field of awareness, obscured by thoughts and emotions, yet revealed in the gaps between them through meditation.

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Perception shapes spiritual understanding, turning the same world into heaven or hell, and only by purifying our perceptions can we see the primordial sacredness of all things.

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The purpose of life is to courageously undertake a spiritual journey towards self-realization and transformation, ultimately benefiting humanity.

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Breath-focused meditation dissolves duality, cultivates presence, and can influence our physical and mental states, yet its intensity should be tailored to individual comfort.

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Bardos, Tibetan transitional states, offer opportunities for liberation and enlightenment by navigating changes in consciousness, a process key to understanding the true nature of our mind.

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Wisdom, cultivated through listening, reflection, and meditation, serves as a transformative force on the spiritual journey towards enlightenment.

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Spiritual teachers, embodying wisdom and compassion, serve as crucial guides to enlightenment, despite the challenge of discerning genuine masters in today's world.

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Summary & Review

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche is a comprehensive guide on how to live and die. It provides a clear understanding of the Tibetan Buddhist view on life, death, and rebirth. The book emphasizes the importance of living a meaningful life, preparing for death, and helping the dying. It also offers practical advice on how to deal with grief and loss, and how to transform these experiences into opportunities for personal growth.

Sogyal Rinpoche

Sogyal Rinpoche was a Tibetan Dzogchen Lama of the Nyingma tradition. He was recognized as the incarnation of a great spiritual master and saint, Tert├Ân Sogyal Lerab Lingpa, and was known for his teachings on meditation and spirituality.

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