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The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

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The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche, gives a comprehensive presentation of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, exploring: the message of impermanence; evolution, karma and rebirth; the nature of mind and how to train the mind through meditation; how to follow a spiritual path in this day and age; the practice of compassion; how to care for and show love to the dying, and spiritual practices for the moment of death.

In his foreword to the book, His Holiness the Dalai Lama says:

In this timely book, Sogyal Rinpoche focuses on how to understand the true meaning of life, how to accept death, and how to help the dying, and the dead...Death and dying provide a meeting point between the Tibetan Buddhist and modern scientific traditions. I believe both have a great deal to contribute to each other on the level of understanding and practical benefit. Sogyal Rinpoche is particularly well placed to facilitate this meeting; having been born and brought up in the Tibetan tradition, he has received instructions from some of our greatest Lamas. Having also benefited from a modern education and lived and worked in the West, he has become well acquainted with Western ways of thought.

Publication history

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying was first launched in the United States in September 1992, where it received high acclaim and spent several weeks at the top of the bestseller lists.[1]

It was subsequently released in the United Kingdom, Australia and India, and first translated into German and French. To date, more than two million copies have been printed in 30 languages and 56 countries.[2]

The book’s success contributed to an expansion of the work of Rigpa, the network of Buddhist centres and groups set up by Sogyal Rinpoche in the 1970s.[3]

It also prompted Rigpa to introduce a Spiritual Care Education and Training programme, providing for the needs of caregivers.[4] A major conference held at Germering, near Munich in 1996 and involving several leading authorities on care for the dying, had a considerable influence on the emerging hospice movement in Germany.[3]

A revised edition was released in 2002 to celebrate the book's 10th anniversary.

Related publications

Chapter Five of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, which gives a detailed presentation of meditation, was published separately by Harper Collins under the title Meditation, ISBN 0-06-251114-9

Extracts from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying were also published as Glimpse After Glimpse: Daily Reflections for Living and Dying, ISBN 0-06-251126-2


  1. 'Best Sellers'. The New York Times Book Review. 3 January 1993
  2. Translations: English, French, German, Chinese (Mainland China and Taiwan), Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, Finnish, Turkish, Greek, Thai, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Croatian, Slovenian, Serbian, Hungarian, Estonian, Russian, Lithuanian, Czech, Bulgarian, Polish.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The History of Rigpa 1992-1996
  4. History and Development of the Spiritual Care Program


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