The Great Book of Natural Liberation through Understanding in the Between, or as we Westerners refer to it – Tibetan Book of the Dead, written by Padma Sambhava in the late eighth century, vividly describes the “betweens” (Bardos) or after-death transition states. It serves as a practical guidebook for the recently dead as he travels through the death experience toward liberation or enlightenment, or back to earth in another incarnation.

The documentary film The Tibetan Book of the Dead is narrated by none other than Leonard Cohen whose calming deep voice guides us as we experience from a private perspective how the Book of the Dead is used and understood by Tibetan Buddhists: “Death is real, it comes without warning and it cannot be escaped. An ancient source of strength and guidance, The Tibetan Book of the Dead remains an essential teaching in the Buddhist cultures of the Himalayas. Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this enlightening two-part series explores the sacred text and boldly visualizes the afterlife according to its profound wisdom. “A Way of Life” reveals the history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead and examines its traditional use in northern India, as well as its acceptance in Western hospices. Shot over a four-month period, the film contains footage of the rites and liturgies for a deceased Ladakhi elder and includes an interview with the Dalai Lama, who shares his views on the book’s meaning and importance.”

Watch a segment of Part I of the documentary: The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life –

Purchase the DVD (parts I and II) on Amazon – The Tibetan Book of the Dead (A Way of Life / The Great Liberation)

book of the dead video

Purchase the Book of the Dead on Amazon – The Tibetan Book of the Dead translated by Robert Thurman
Book of the Dead
“Imagine that as you leave your body at death, you hear the voice of a loved one whispering in your ear explanations of everything you see in the world beyond. Unlike other translations of Bar do thos grol (or The Tibetan Book of the Dead), Robert Thurman’s takes literally the entire gamut of metaphysical assumptions. Thurman translates Bar do thos grol as The Great Book of Natural Liberation through Understanding in the Between. It is one of many mortuary texts of the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism and is commonly recited to or by a person facing imminent death. Thurman reproduces it for this purpose, explaining in some depth the Tibetan conception of postmortem existence. Over as many as 12 days, the deceased person is given explanations of what he or she sees and experiences and is guided through innumerable visions of the realms beyond to reach eventual liberation, or, failing that, a safe rebirth. Like a backpacker’s guide to a foreign land, Thurman’s version is clear, detailed, and sympathetic to the inexperienced voyager. It includes background and supplementary information, and even illustrations (sorry, no maps). Don’t wait until the journey has begun. Every page should be read and memorized well ahead of time. –Brian Bruya (Amazon reviews)”