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Mircea Eliade - The Tibetan Book of the Dead



Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

Also shamanic in structure is what has been called the Tibetan Book of the dead.  Although strictly speaking it is not a psychopompic guide, we may compare the role of the priest who recites ritual texts concerning the roads in the afterlife in order that the deceased may follow them with the function of the Altaic or Goldi shaman who symbolically escorts the deceased into the beyond.

This Bardo thodol represents an intermediate stage between the narrative of the old shaman psychopomp and the Orphic plates, which briefly told the deceased the right paths to take in his journey through the beyond; it also has a number of features in common with the Indonesian and Polynesian funerary chants.

A Tibetan manuscript from Tun Hiang entitled ‘Exposition of the Road of Death’ and recently translated by Marcelle Lalou describes the directions to be avoided

The source of the experience

Tibetan Buddhism

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image