The Tibetan Book of the Dead is one of the best-known Tibetan Buddhist texts. It is also one of the most difficult texts for Westerners to understand. In Living, Dreaming, Dying, Rob Nairn presents the first interpretation of this classic text using a modern Western perspective, avoiding arcane religious terminology, keeping his explanations grounded in everyday language. Nairn explores the concepts used in this highly revered work and brings out their meaning and significance for our daily life. He shows readers how the Tibetan Book of the Dead can help us understand life and self as well as the dying process.
Living, Dreaming, Dying helps readers to "live deliberately"—and confront death deliberately. One thing that prevents us from doing that, according to Nairn, is our tendency to react fearfully whenever change occurs. But if we confront our fear of change and the unknown, we can learn to flow gracefully with the unfolding circumstances of life rather than be at their mercy.
Of course, change occurs throughout our life, but a period of transition also occurs as we pass from the waking state into sleep, and likewise as we pass into death. Therefore the author's teachings apply equally to living as well as to dreaming and dying.
Through meditation instructions and practical exercises, the author explains how to:
- Explore the mind through the cultivation of deep meditation states and expanded consciousness
- Develop awareness of negative tendencies
- Use deep sleep states and lucid dreaming to increase self-understanding as well as to "train" oneself in how to die so that one is prepared for when the time comes
- Confront and liberate oneself from fear of death and the unknown
"The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a guide to liberating the mind from illusion in the bardo of death. In order to accomplish this, it is necessary to train the mind in this life by developing kindness, compassion, and wisdom. Rob Nairn is offering a modern psychological perspective with the hope that it will be easier for people to understand and apply these ancient teachings to their lives."—His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa
"This book will benefit many beings."—His Eminence the Twelfth Tai Situpa
"Rob Nairn integrates the insights of Jungian psychology with the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to explain the relationships between day-to-day life, our experience of dreaming, and the opportunity for enlightenment that arises when we die. This excellent book speaks directly to the reader in a style free from jargon, and shows with great clarity how we can begin right now to prepare for a skillful death."—Francesca Fremantle, author of Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead and co-translator, with Chögyam Trungpa, of The Tibetan Book of the Dead
"Beautifully written, Living, Dreaming, Dying is at once a profound description of and an accessible guide to the most fundamental aspects of ourselves—the great mysteries of birth, death, and what lies between. Highly recommended."—Joseph Goldstein, author of One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism