By Donald S. Lopez, Jr.
The Tibetan ebook of the Dead is the main well-known Buddhist textual content within the West, having offered greater than one million copies because it was once first released in English in 1927. Carl Jung wrote a remark on it, Timothy Leary redesigned it as a guidebook for an acid journey, and the Beatles quoted Leary's model of their track "Tomorrow by no means Knows." extra lately, the ebook has been followed through the hospice move, enshrined by means of Penguin Classics, and made into an audiobook learn by way of Richard Gere. but, as acclaimed author and student of Buddhism Donald Lopez writes, "The Tibetan publication of the Dead seriously is not Tibetan, it's not particularly a booklet, and it isn't quite approximately death." during this compelling advent and brief heritage, Lopez tells the unusual tale of the way a comparatively imprecise and malleable selection of Buddhist texts of doubtful beginning got here to be so revered--and so misunderstood--in the West.
The important personality during this tale is Walter Evans-Wentz (1878-1965), an eccentric pupil and non secular seeker from Trenton, New Jersey, who, regardless of no longer figuring out the Tibetan language and not vacationing the rustic, crafted and named The Tibetan ebook of the Dead. actually, Lopez argues, Evans-Wentz's e-book is far extra American than Tibetan, owing a better debt to Theosophy and Madame Blavatsky than to the lamas of the Land of Snows. certainly, Lopez means that the book's perennial charm stems not just from its origins in magical and mysterious Tibet, but in addition from the best way Evans-Wentz translated the textual content into the language of a really American spirituality.
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The clearest statement of his own views on the matter appears in a letter of 16 May, 1963. “Do not think,” he writes, “that I regard suicide as praiseworthy—that there can easily be an element of weakness in it, I am the first to admit… but I certainly regard it as preferable to a number of other possibilities. , 381. ’ The greatest irony of this story is how a passage from a sutta saved an Italian fascist from committing suicide, in gratitude for which he wrote a book that impelled an English army officer to become a bhikkhu, who eventually committed suicide with the conviction that it was fully justified by the suttas.
92 How does one decide whether another person really is a stream entrant or whether they are deluding themselves? According to the suttas, only an ārya can recognise another ārya. It would follow, therefore, that only a bona fide ārya would have the authority to deny Nanavira’s claim. But then the same questions would arise with regard to that person, which would require the authority of yet another bona fide ārya, and so on ad infinitum. Subjectively, however, the attainment of stream entry can be validated by a discernible and definitive psychological change.
In other words it would seem to be simply the momentary occurrence of access concentration, rather than a different level of concentration as such. 22 This is used to explain how someone practising breathing mindfulness emerges from jhāna and contemplates the mind associated with jhāna as subject to destruction and liable to disappear. ). Subsequently he fixes the mind on the object by means of this momentary one-pointedness of mind. This seems to imply that the term momentary concentration would be applied by Buddhaghosa to the earlier stages of insight.