The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

326 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING

complete transformation it often makes in the lives, attitudes,

careers, and relationships of the people who have this experience.

They may not lose their fear of pain and dying, but they

lose their fear of death itself; they become more tolerant and

loving; and they become interested in spiritual values, the

"path of wisdom," and usually in a universal spirituality rather

than the dogma of any one religion.

How, then, should the near-death experience be

interpreted? Some Western writers who have read the Tibetan

Book of the Dead equate these experiences with the experiences

of the bardos taught in the Tibetan tradition. At first glance

there do seem to be tantalizing parallels between the two, but

how exactly do the details of the near-death experience relate

to the teachings on the bardos? I feel that this would require a

special study beyond the scope of this book, but there are a

number of similarities and differences we can see.

THE DARKNESS AND THE TUNNEL

The final phase of the dissolution process of the bardo of

dying, you will remember, is when the black experience of

"full attainment" dawns "like an empty sky shrouded in utter

darkness." At this point, the teachings speak of a moment of

bliss and joy. One of the main features of the near-death experience

is the impression of moving "at a terrific speed" and

"feeling weightless" through a black space, "a total, peaceful,

wonderful blackness," and down a "long, dark, tunnel."

One woman told Kenneth Ring: "It's just like a void, a

nothing and it's such a peaceful—it's so pleasant that you can

keep going. It's a complete blackness, there is no sensation at

all, there was no feeling ... sort of like a dark tunnel. Just a

floating. It's like being in mid-air." 3

And another woman told him:

The first thing I remember was a tremendous rushing sound, a

tremendous ... It's hard to find the right words to describe. The closest

thing that I could possibly associate it with is, possibly, the sound

of a tornado—a tremendous gushing wind, but almost pulling me.

And I was being pulled into a narrow point from a wide area. 4

A woman told Margot Grey:

/ was in what felt like outer space. It was absolutely black out there

and I felt like I was being drawn towards an opening like at the

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