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on 3 March 2017
not bad
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on 13 December 2010
I picked up this book after hearing the news of the sudden and shocking death of a close friend. I wanted to read something that would not gloss over the significance of death or attempt to make me feel better about it with words of comfort or consolation. What I encountered and found most helpful was a staightforward and direct account of the Buddhist view of the process of death. I was moved by the confidence of the writer in mapping out for the reader the various stages of death in a practical no-nonsense manner. This helped me to put my own shock regarding the loss I had incurred into some perspective. It gave me a framework in which to confront my own immortality and to do so without any sentimental frills. As I read the book I felt I was in the good hands of a reliable authority who could speak from direct experience and wisdom. The new view of death that the book gave me has enabled me to begin to live my life more meaningfully. I hadn't really expected that.
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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.
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on 14 September 2014
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is my favourite author of this type of book. He shares so much of his insights and makes so much sense. Its one of those books I read a chapter absorb and then go to the next chapter. Blessings Geshe
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on 13 May 2009
This is an excellent read. In the seven pages of the introduction it succinctly gives a clear overview of the Buddhist understanding of life and death, and happiness and suffering. It is very inspiring and encouraging. In the rest of the book we get clear detailed advice on how to make our human life meaningful and happy. There is also advice on what to do when we are with others who are dying and how to make our own death very meaningful. This book is priceless. It answers all the big questions in a beautiful way.
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on 2 March 2009
The introduction to this book is a brief but sublime explanation of how to live a spiritually meaningful life. The main body of the text is a highly qualified commentary to the traditional Buddhist practice of 'Powa' or transference of a dying person's consciousness to a state free from suffering. This is done in conjunction with prayers to the Buddha of Compassion - Avalokiteshvara.

I have known many Buddhists who've found this practice an extraordinary source of peace at a friend or relative's deathtime. What has surprised me more, is how meaningful and helpful non-Buddhist family and friends of recently deceased have told me they have also found this practice.

If you are looking for a more general introduction to Buddhism, try Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life or Transform Your Life: A Blissful Journey by the same author.
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on 8 June 2016
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