I bought a copy of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche when I was about 14 years old. I was getting right into Buddhism back then and I thought naturally I should have a copy of L & D and read it. I thought it would be this impressive, impacting read that I would learn so much from. A real eye opener. It didn’t help that people would puff it up to sound impressive either.
That was over ten years ago and since then I’ve tried several times to read it with no success at finishing it. At first I couldn’t make it past the introduction and then eventually I made it through one or two chapters. Now I’m finally reading it and I’ve made it to 100 pages.
I first thought my difficulty with reading it was that it wasn’t the right time, I wasn’t ready, because there are some books out there you can really only get into when you’re ready for them. And I thought L & D was one of those books, but now I wonder.
I wonder because I find myself questioning if I should have forced myself to read it back when I was 14 rather than now. I wonder if that would have made a different. I wonder if I would have learnt something new or been moved by this book if I had of read it before a lot of the experiences I had gone through because now, now I’m not feeling anything towards it. There’s nothing impressive, there’s nothing impacting, there’s nothing illuminating. So far from what I’ve read I’ve discovered that I’ve already come to these conclusions and learnt these things. And I’m wondering if it will keep on at the same pace without anything for me to learn or if there will be something, anything that will come along. I was expecting eye opening, but I’m starting to suspect that perhaps I’ve had too much pain, suffering, and difficulties in my life for this book to make any difference. I’m starting to suspect for all it’s hype and supposed wisdom it’s more for people who haven’t experienced hardships and have not had to face up to the subjects in this book.
I’m starting to believe The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is more for people who want spiritual enlightenment or teachings and have no idea how to go about it. It’s more for the people who don’t live every day like it’s their last. It’s for the people who don’t appreciate that life and death are intertwined and who take so much for granted.
In a way it is a disappointment for me because I was expecting something eye opening, or something I could learn more from, or something that would re-affirm for me, but maybe, just maybe it’s not a bad thing that I am not having this experience with this book. Maybe it’s a good thing because I’ve learnt so much and had my eyes open to so much that others wouldn’t have had by my age.
It is, incase anyone is thinking twice about reading it after this, a really good book so far. I think Sogyal Rinpoche has a great delivery that is really easy to read and take in. There’s also a lot one can learn if they haven’t been opened up to these things before. I’m just one of those people who have come to these conclusions naturally at an earlier age and had my eyes opened to it early on. It doesn’t mean the book and it’s teachings are bad or inadequate, it just means this book is probably not for me which does sadden me a little.
I can’t decide if I want to finish reading it though. It’s such a hard slog that feels like it won’t give any reward, but at the same time I feel like I’m cheating myself if I don’t push on because you never know what you could learn. I might learn something different.