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Tibetan Book of the Dead & Theosophy

Jan 15, 1999 02:32 AM
by Richard Taylor

In a message dated 1/15/99 3:03:10 AM, Leon wrote:

<<I would be curious to know what other "problems" there might be that would
cause HPB to ignore this book (which, as far as I have heard, is actually a
manual for an exoteric religious ritual funerary practice, and used as a guide
for departing souls passing through the lower astral realms). >>

It is quite true that the Bardo Thodol text is now used that way by many (not
nearly all) Tibetans.  However, the origin of the text, according to Tibetan
mythic tradition, is that it was a "hidden" (terma) text, planted in the 7th
century by the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava.  It was then
discovered in the 13th century by Karma Lingpa.  So the book's history, if one
accepts the legend, is quite esoteric.  It's use now is quite exoteric.
Anyone heard from Elizabeth Clare Prophet lately?  That woman is using
Theosophical ideas and names and specific teachings as exoterically and
financially as anyone could, I think.  Shall we thus impugn the source of
Theosophy, because certain scoundrels see fit to abuse and "exotericize" it?

Leon further writes,

<<I don't think it was any part of HPB's mandate to give out or promote such
cultish or religious practices in her expositions of pure esoteric

Couldn't agree more.  On the other hand, the Bardo Thodol *need not* be used
that way, even though it *often is* used that way.


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