Awakening upon Dying: The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The subject of this book is the continuity of consciousness and the consequent possibility of spiritual liberation after death, as understood in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, an explanation long famed in Europe and North America as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. A partial rendering of the complete cycle of this extensive work, this volume contains the translation of several of the central texts, the two principal ones of which here included were originally entitled An Elucidation of the Intermediate State of Reality, Great Liberation through Hearing During the Intermediate State and An Introduction to the Intermediate State of Rebirth, Great Liberation through Hearing during the Intermediate State (Part one).
The translation of three invocations (Part Two) which traditionally accompany these teachings and of the Root Verses of the Six Intermediate States (Part Three) are also included. Part Four offers guidelines on how to assist a person at the moment of death and beyond, and is followed by two Appendixes, concluding what can justly be considered a manual for spiritual realization in the afterlife state.
The translation presented in this book is a revisiting of the Italian translation by Prof. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in collaboration with his university students, during a course given by him in Tibetan language and literature at the oriental Institute of the University of Naples in the academic year 1979-1980. The present book can be more properly considered a new translation of the Tibetan text since knowledge contained in editions of the Tibetan text which
have surfaced since 1980 has shed light on ambiguous passages and since improvements made in the interpretation of Tibetan texts by recent translations have been integrated.
The profound Introductory Commentary of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu which precedes and clarifies the texts from the Dzogchen point of view is an elaboration based on an introduction compiled by the master’s students from oral teachings given by him at a meditation retreat at Volpago, Italy in 1980 and which have previously appeared in the Italian language (see below). Enriching the present introduction is the addition of material from written works and
oral teachings of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, particularly that of an essay on the four intermediate states in Birth, Life and Death, Shang Shung Publications, Arcidosso, 2008. Extracts are also included from transcriptions of oral teachings given by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu at Merigar (Arcidosso, Italy) in January 1992 and August 1998, as well as at other times.