The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation

Lama Pema Chodan

The second of these films follows Lama Pema Chodan and his 13 year old novice Thubten Tsering as they attend to the ceremonies following the death of a young family man in Ladakh, and listens in on their coversations about life and death, as the master explains to his pupil the various stages (bardo) that the dead person passes through.

The Book of the Dead is chanted giving guidance to the spirit which has not quite left the body for the first few days, and following the cremation on the eighth day there are more readings guiding the spirit through the projections of gods and demons that are conjured up in his mind as he seeks for rebirth.

The documentary this week has many animation sequences to help illustrate the journey the spirit makes, some are quite effective like the animating of traditional thangkas, but others are a little crude. The whole is set against the magnificent Himalayan background and the difficult life the inhabitants there face.


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