Directed by Barrie McLean
Country: Japan/France/Canada
Year: 1994

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Death is real, and it comes without warning. An ancient source of strength and guidance originating in the spiritual cultures of the Himalayas, The Tibetan Book of the Dead remains an essential teaching for reminding us of this fact and aiding us in dealing with it. Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this two-part series explores the sacred text and visualizes the afterlife according to its profound wisdom. We’ll be showing Part 1: A Way of Life in October and Part 2: The Great Liberation in November.

Part 1: A Way of Life reveals the history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead and examines its traditional use in Ladakh, a region in northern India, as well as its newfound acceptance in Western hospices. Shot over a four-month period, the film contains footage of the rites and liturgies for a deceased Ladakhi elder and includes an interview with H.H. the Dalai Lama, who shares his views on the book’s meaning and importance.

Part 2: The Great Liberation follows an old lama and his novice monk as they guide a Himalayan villager into the afterlife using readings from The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The soul’s 49-day journey towards rebirth is envisioned through actual photography of rarely-seen Buddhist rituals, interwoven with groundbreaking animation by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Ishu Patel.