Cover image for Luminous emptiness : understanding the Tibetan book of the dead
Luminous emptiness : understanding the Tibetan book of the dead
Fremantle, Francesca.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Shambhala : Distributed in the U.S. by Random House, 2001.
Physical Description:
xxii, 407 pages, 8 pages of plates : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BQ4490 .K3713 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



TheTibetan Book of the Dead,a best-seller for three decades, is one of the most widely read texts of Tibetan Buddhism. Over the years, it has been studied and cherished by Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.Luminous Emptinessis a detailed guide to this classic work, elucidating its mysterious concepts, terms, and imagery. Fremantle relates the symbolic world of theTibetan Book of the Deadto the experiences of everyday life, presenting the text not as a scripture for the dying, but as a guide for the living. According to the Buddhist view, nothing is permanent or fixed. The entire world of our experience is constantly appearing and disappearing at every moment. Using vivid and dramatic imagery, theTibetan Book of the Deadpresents the notion that most of us are living in a dream that will continue from lifetime to lifetime until we truly awaken by becoming enlightened. Here, Fremantle, who worked closely with ChÖgyam Trungpa on the 1975 translation of theTibetan Book of the Dead(Shambhala), brings the expertise of a lifetime of study to rendering this intriguing classic more accessible and meaningful to the living.Luminous Emptinessfeatures in-depth explanations of: The Tibetan Buddhist notions of death and rebirth The meaning of the five energies and the five elements in Tibetan Buddhism The mental and physical experience of dying, according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1975, Shambhala published The Tibetan Book of the Dead, whose actual name is less catchy: The Great Liberation through Hearing during the Immediate State. (This misnomer originated with W.Y. Evans-Wentz's initial English translation in 1927, piggy-backing on The Egyptian Book of the Dead's popularity at that time.) The 1975 version of Padmasambhava's original eighth-century text, translated by Fremantle and Chegyam Trungpa, strengthened a bridge between Tibetan Buddhism and the West, and it stills sells briskly. To pay tribute to her teacher Trungpa, Fremantle offers this commentary to expound upon and clarify the spiritual classic. Her solo work here is a blend of high intellectualism, readability and spiritual gifts that successfully enhance the understanding of the bardos, or stages, between life and death. The commentary's first part examines the text's foundations, illuminating its rich concepts, while the second applies this clarified knowledge to newly translated excerpts. As Trungpa once observed, the text could just as easily be called The Tibetan Book of Birth; it is indeed a manual about death, the "process of dissolution, but also the process of coming into being, and these two processes are continually at work in every moment of life." Fremantle wrote this for "everyone who feels attracted to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, whether they are Buddhist or not." Except for the most dedicated students, this is not a book for beginners, but it will provide expert assistance for those who yearn to contemplate Tibetan Buddhism's deeper fathoms. (Dec.) Forecast: Fremantle's association with the 1975 translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and with Chegyam Trungpa, should help this become an enduring backlist title for Shambhala. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A scholar in Sanskrit and Tibetan, Fremantle is more than qualified to write this guide; she collaborated with renowned meditation master and scholar Chegyam Trungpa on a well-received translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead in 1975. Nothing less than a careful explanation of the world and the ideas that surround that text, this new work is an excellent and plainly written manual to the complex mythologies, symbols, philosophies, and doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism. The West could hardly ask for a better primer. Highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.