Ann Tashi Slater joins Raghu Markus for a Mindrolling conversation about The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and what the journey into death can teach us about our everyday lives.
Ann Tashi Slater is a writer and professor based in Tokyo, Japan. She contributes to the New Yorker, the Paris Review, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Tricycle Magazine, the Huffington Post, and others. Find out more about Ann and her work at www.anntashislater.com.
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The Wisdom of the Dead
Raghu welcomes Ann and asks about her special connection to The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Ann shares the story of reconnecting to her Tibetan heritage and discovering the role her great grandfather played in helping Walter Evans-Wentz bring The Tibetan Book of the Dead to the West.
“That was one of the things that was, and remains, very intriguing to me about The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which is that it’s meant to be as much for the living as for the dead.” – Ann Tashi Slater
Read A Journey Between Lives – Ann Tashi Slater writes about how she found her way back to her ancestors through The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Birth to Death Bardo (15:56)
Raghu and Ann explore the journey into death detailed in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, including how the dead may cling to life, encounter terrifying thought-forms, and face the judgment of their conscience. They discuss what this journey through death can teach us about our everyday lives, and how we can live consciously in this birth to death bardo.
“So one bardo is death to rebirth, and we need to accept that we’re dead in order to move on. And another bardo is birth to death, and in what kinds of ways might we actually be dead and not admitting it and not facing it?” – Ann Tashi Slater
Raghu Markus and David Silver explore different states of bardo on Mindrolling Ep. 298
Turning Towards Death (34:57)
Raghu and Ann discuss how we create our own experience in the bardos. They talk about the state of denial most people live in when it comes to facing death, but it’s possible to turn towards death with an open perspective rather than hide from it. Ann shares her personal encounter with death, and how freeing it was to face the truth of impermanence.
“One reason I find The Tibetan Book of the Dead so moving is that it’s about facing reality, but not giving up.” – Ann Tashi Slater