The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” by Sogyal Rinpoche, 2008. Revised and updated version of 2002 edition.

page 17, on unconscious, living corpses… “Most of us do live like that; we live according to a pre-ordained plan, We spend our youth being educated. Then we find a job, and meet someone, marry, and have children. We buy a house, try to make a success of our business, aim for dreams like a country house or second car. We go away on holiday with our friends. We plan for retirement. The biggest dilemmas some of us ever have to face are where to take our next holiday or whom to invite at Christmas. Our lives are monotonous, petty, and repetitive, wasted in the pursuit of the trivial, because we seem to know of nothing better.”

page 19, on Active Laziness… “there are different species of laziness: Eastern and Western. The Eastern style is like the one practiced to perfection in India. It consists of hanging out all day in the sun, doing nothing, avoiding any kind of work or useful activity, drinking cups of tea, listening to Hindi film music blaring on the radio, and gossiping with friends. Western laziness is quite different. It consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time at all to confront the real issue.”

page 20, “Sometimes I think that the greatest achievement of modern culture is its brilliant selling of illusions and its barren distractions. Modern society seems to me a celebration of all the things that lead away from the truth, make truth hard to live for, and discourage people from even believing that it exists.”

page 35, “Usually we assume we must grasp in order to have that something that will ensure our happiness. We ask ourselves: How can we possibly enjoy anything if we cannot own it? How often attachment is mistaken for love! Even when the relationship is a good one, love is spoiled by attachment, with its insecurity, possessiveness, and pride;”

page 121, “In Tibetan ego is called dak dzin, which means “grasping to a self.” Ego is then defined as incessant movements of grasping at a delusory notion of “I” and “mine,” self and other, and all the concepts, ideas, desires, and activity that will sustain that false construction. Such a grasping is futile from the start and condemned to frustration, for there is no basis or truth in it, and what we are grasping at is by its very nature ungraspable. The fact that we need to grasp at all and go on and on grasping shows that in the depths of our being we know that the self does not inherently exist. From this secret, unnerving knowledge spring all our fundamental insecurities and fear.”

p.124, “Two people have been living in you all your life. One is the ego, garrulous, demanding, hysterical, calculating; the other is the hidden spiritual being, whose still voice of wisdom you have only rarely heard or attended to. As you listen more and more to the teachings, contemplate them, and integrate them into your life, your inner voice, your innate wisdom of discemment, what we call in Buddhism “discriminating awareness,” is awakened and strengthened, and you begin to distinguish between its guidance and the various clamorous and enthralling voices of ego. The memory of your real nature, with all its splendor and confidence, begins to return to you.

You will find, in fact, that you have uncovered in yourself your own wise guide. Because he or she knows you through and through, since he or she is you, your guide can help you, with increasing clarity and humor, negotiate all the difficulties of your thoughts and emotions. Your guide can also be a continual, joyful, tender, sometimes teasing presence, who knows always what is best for you and will help you find more and more ways out of your obsession with your habitual respones and confused emotions. As the voice of your discriminating awareness grows stronger and clearer, you will start to distinguish between its truth and the various deceptions of the ego, and you will be able to listen to it with discemment and confidence.

The more often you listen to this wise guide, the more easily you will be able to change your negative moods yourself, see through them, and even laugh at them for the absurd dramas and ridiculous illusions that they are. Gradually you will find yourself able to free yourself more and more quickly from the dark emotions atht have ruled your life, and this ability to do so is the greatest miracle of all.”

p.126, “Listening is a far more difficult process than most people imagine; really to listen in the way that is meant by the masters is to let go utterly of ourselves, to let go of all the information, all the concepts, all the ideas, and all the prejudices that our heads are stuffed with. If you really listen […] those concepts that are our real hindrance, the one thing that stands between us and our true nature, can slowly and steadily be washed away. […] ‘If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.’ The beginner’s mind is an open mind, an empty mind, a ready mind, and if we really listen with a beginner’s mind, we might really begin to hear. If we listen with a silent mind, as free as possible from the clamor of preconceived ideas, a possibility will be created for the truth of the […]”

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