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The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Everyday Life
October 22, 2010 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm PDT
The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or Bardo Thodol, is a manual or guide for the 49-day period between a person’s death and their next rebirth. Written in Tibet in the middle ages, it describes the entities and experiences that await all of us in the bardo, or the in-between. Many strange and scary things happen in that intermediate phase, and it is best, from the point of view of the text, to be prepared. In fact, if one is prepared enough, the moment of death can be the most opportune time to achieve liberation. This occurs when you can see what is happening, including the most terrifying images, as aspects of your own mind.
Jung writes that the Bardo Thodol makes “clear to the dead man the primacy of the psyche, for that is the one thing which life does not make clear to us. We are so hemmed in by things which jostle and oppress that we never get the chance, in the midst of all these ‘given’ things, to wonder by whom they are ‘given’. It is from this world of given things that the dead man liberates himself; and the purpose of the instructions is to help him toward this liberation. we … learn from the very first paragraphs the that ‘giver’ of all ‘given’ things dwells within us. This is a truth which in the face of all evidence, in the greatest things as well as in the smallest, is never known although it is often so very necessary, indeed vital, for us to know it.” (vol 11: 514)
Why does Jung say this is vital? Because this exploration of the in-between has the capacity to liberate us in this life, long before the body dies.
Our lecture will include a brief history of the Bardo Thodol and then a symbolic exploration of its other reality. We will look at it compared to the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Jung’s own opus of the undiscovered country, The Red Book. Finally we will ground it in our daily lives as a useful and inspirational tool that has something to say to everyone. Fantastic images will accompany the lecture.
Related Workshop: The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Everyday Life
MORGAN STEBBINS, MDiv, LMSW, is a Jungian Analyst in New York City, where he completed his analytic training at the C.G. Jung Institute. He is currently Supervising Analyst and faculty member at the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association. He is also on the faculty of the C.G. Jung Foundation, New York Theological Seminary, and the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, where he trains Buddhist chaplains and Jungian analysts in the skills of deep listening. His teaching interests focus on integrating depth psychology with the world’s spiritual traditions. He has just completed a hospital-based research study on the efficacy of dream work in palliative care.