Twenty Years of “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” in German
This year marks twenty years since the publication of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying in German. The following are a few stories from people in Germany about how they met the book.
Dr. Günter J. Bauer from Berlin and Hamburg writes: “I was in a book shop rummaging around for some books about Asian philosophy—in particular about the teachings of Confucius—I noticed the The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. However, I did not want to buy a “book of the dead”, so I chose a very beautiful book about Confucius’ teachings but then happened to leave it in an airplane some days later.
I went back to buy another copy in the same book shop, but it was sold out. So I picked up The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by a certain Sogyal Rinpoche, leafed through it, read some pages and then I bought it to have something to read. When I started to read it properly, a whole treasure opened up in front of my eyes. For the first time I had an idea and a feeling of what Buddhism was. Since then, the book has been my constant companion and I am endlessly grateful that it offers such an accessible bridge for people with a “Western” education.
Cristine Schell, from Cologne, writes:
“I came across Rinpoche’s book when a friend invited me over for coffee while I was still living out in the country. The book stood on her bookshelf; she had hardly looked at it, much less started to read it since she had borrowed it from a friend. She told me I could take it home with me…. It was incredible, I had not read a book so intensely for a long time. I rearranged my whole life around reading it, and in just a few days I had read it from beginning to end. Thanks to the addresses in the back of the book I got in touch with the local Rigpa group in Hamburg. Even though I lived two hours away, I immediately registered for a meditation course.
A few months later my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The doctors did not give her any chance to survive, and so her only wish was to go home. Up until this point in my life I had never seen anyone die, let alone accompany someone through this process. I took a train to where she was living, with Rinpoche’s book under my arm, and I can say, without any exaggeration, that his book saved me. With my brother I spent two weeks at my mother’s side in her apartment and throughout this time the book was a tremendous support. It accompanied us through all the phases of dissolution with such a gentleness, and it gave my brother and I courage and love. I am so very greatful for that.
My mother died very peacefully.
Dirk van Fürden, also from Cologne, writes:
“In the mid 90s I worked in a dark office. When a neighbour went on holiday he asked me to water his plants. One lunch break I went over to his room again with the watering can, lost in thoughts. From the corner of my eye I noticed something I had not seen before. Something seemed different. I watered the plants, walked through the room again and had a look around. There it was! A book on a small side table. Such pleasant colours, and what a title: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. I opened it up and started to read. Captivated by the story of Rinpoche’s childhood and the way it was written, I kept reading, page by page. Suddenly I realized that one and a half hours had passed. Over the next three weeks my lunch break turned into a source of joy as I continued to read the book. Fascinated by everything I had read, I quizzed my neighbour on his return about Sogyal Rinpoche and his experiences with him. Thanks to this coincidence I had the opportunity to see Rinpoche live in Cologne and went on to attend further events. Today I attend the Rigpa parallel programme course and enjoy the public study evenings. My gratitude to Sogyal Rinpoche, for his generosity and compassion in the form of his book. “
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