Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
Not at all helpful
on 7 August 2008
I read this book to prepare for my mother's (and someday, my own) death. Nothing contained within was helpful. The author makes statement after statement with virtually no detailed explanations, sources or support beyond his own; oft times only referencing his other books.
This is also the same author who wrote in his New Meditation Handbook that swatting a mosquito in anger will result in eons in the hell realm. He is serious about this... it is not meant figuratively or as a parable and there is no explanation of purification or karma. If you buy this book, this is the simplistic rigidity of doctrine you can expect.
Upon completing this preachy and confused mess, I found myself more depressed than before picking it up. For example, when someone first learns they are going to die, Gyatso insists they should cut themselves completely off from the rest of the world and meditate non-stop until the end. Yeah, right. For a book written for Westerners, the author needs to ground himself in the realities of his target audience. If a person is dying and they cut themselves off from the rest of world, how do they eat? Do kindly Bodhisattvas drop off food and medications without interrupting the non-stop meditation? Even if practical, had my recently deceased mother done this, I (and all her family and friends) would not have not had any quality time together.
She, a Buddhist like myself, found far better books to read, discuss and practice before her passing. The one that immediately comes to mind is the vastly superior, down-to-earth and clearly written PEACEFUL DEATH JOYFUL REBIRTH (A Tibetan Buddhist Guidebook) by Tulku Thondup, also available from Amazon. By contrast, this book is not only uplifting (what Buddhism is really about), but also gives many specific examples of what to expect while supporting the information with outside sources, something Gyatso never, ever does. Additionally, it includes an excellent CD of guided meditations.
Additional recommendations for authentic answers to this age-old problem (also available from Amazon) include books by His Holiness The Dalai Lama who has written genuine and worthy titles such as:
> Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life
> Mind of Clear Light: Advice on Living Well and Dying Consciously
> The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace
If you are about to face death, want to plan for life's inevitable end, or help a loved one in this situation, do yourself a favor and be sure to prepare with something that is not going to make matters far worse by reading an over-the-top depressingly bizarre product such as this reviewed title.