This book offers trustworthy guidance at the time of death, and in the after death state through which every one must pass. In the words of Milarepa, we must regard as one this life, the next life, and the life between in the Bardo Plane.
The central message of this book is that dying is just as important as living or coming into birth. Knowing the manner of dying confers the power to consciously control the process of regeneration. The Book of the Dead teaches that we should face death calmly and with a clear mind. Our past thoughts have determined our present, our present thoughts will determine our future. Thus, The Book of the Dead teaches that the thoughts of a dying person should be rightly directed. The manner of dying only prepares us for a transition from the human plane of consciousness, and leads to (a coming forth into) a new life.
Lama Govinda says that what we call birth is the reverse side of death; like a door which we call “entrance” from outside and “exit” from inside a room. Because most people do not remember their previous lives in their waking state, they do not believe there was a previous death. But our subconscious memory preserves past impressions and experiences. Lama Govinda says that we should not try to separate the philosophical content of Buddhism from its mythological (Hindu) elements.
According to Tibetan tradition, The Book of the Dead is one of the works which were secretly hidden in order to preserve them for later generations. These works were to be revealed to the world when the time was ripe. The Book of the Dead is a key to the innermost recesses of the human mind and a guide for those who are seeking the path of liberation by hearing on the after-death plane.
It has value for those who practice and realize its teachings during their lifetime. The initiate must go through the process of dying before he can be spiritually reborn. He must die to his past before he can take his place in the new spiritual life. Buddhists believe that at every moment something within us dies, and something is reborn. The initiate, being able to perceive death’s illusory nature, is freed from fear. Thus, The Book of the Dead is as much a guide for the living as it is for the dead and the dying.
Dr. Carl Jung, the eminent psychologist, recognized the importance of “The After Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane”. Stored in the unconscious, there exists in each of us the memory of a forgotten past. But only the awakened ones remember their many lives and deaths. It goes without saying that this book is based on the doctrine of re-birth, a doctrine that was taught not just by Lord Krishna and the Buddha, but by the Greeks, the Ancient Egyptians and the Gnostic Christians as well.
The mere knowledge of language does not suffice to make one a translator. The author says he would not have undertaken this task without believing in its teachings or without studying for many years with a traditional teacher (guru). The author says he has approached the work with a spirit of devotion and humility, as a sacred trust that has come into his hands.