Various Conceptions of Tibetan Buddhist Thanatology in XIX–XX
E. N. Sereda
Thanatological guide known in the West under the title of «Book of the Dead» include Tibetan «Bardo Thödol» or «Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo». It is thought that this book was first written in the VIII BC, and contains a detailed description of the stages through which the human consciousness goes from the physical process of dying until reincarnation. The research efforts of Western scholars – theologians, Tibetologists, orientalists, Buddhist, psychologists – were to accept this experience, and even put it into practice. This article is devoted to the description and classification of leading concepts and interpretations of Tibetan thanatology formulated by European scientists in the XIX–XX centuries on the basis of «Bardo Thödol». The analysis of sources providing interpretation, translation and commentaries on this book, makes it possible to identify three main approaches to the study of texts such as the Bardo Thedol, as well as to identify specific features of each method. Academic and historical approach seeks to identify rationally and empirically verifiable foundation psychological approach focuses on the symbolic and archetypical reality, trying to draw parallels between Western psychology and Tibetan Tantric system anthropological approach points up a person's ability to change him- or herself, and offers practical techniques, searching for «non-religious» meanings that can be used not just in philosophical or historical research, but also in medical, psychotherapeutic, and everyday practice of communicating with people. Taken together all three approaches provide a more or less complete description of Tibetan thanatology and possibilities of its practical understanding. This article considers forms of these concepts, and their influence both on Buddhist studies and popular culture.
Tibetology, thanatology, Buddhism, Buddhist studies, Bardo Thodol, Shitro, Bardo, Tibet, Mahayana, Nyingma