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Description : The eighth-century Buddhist work about life and deathImagine 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 the Bar do thos grol, the so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead, Robert Thurman’s takes literally the entire gamut of metaphysical assumptions. The Bar do thos grol, or as Thurman translates, The Great Book of Natural Liberation through Understanding in the Between, is but one of many mortuary texts of 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 post-mortem 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, including background and supplementary information, even illustrations (sorry, no maps). Don’t wait until the journey has begun, every page should be read and memorised well ahead of time. —Brian Bruya