Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
I didn't want to read this book. My sister asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said "The Tibetan Book of the Dead", but also told her if it was the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying don't bother because that is a modern book. Something got lost in translation and thus I was presented with a copy of this book for my birthday. This was probably for the best.
The main theme of this book is compassion. The first time I read it, I liked it, but it wasn't until the second time that I read it, it really hit home to me. I guess sometimes it's not enough for a book to be saying something, you also have to be at a point in your life where you are ready to hear it. There is a saying "when the student is ready the master will come" and it is obvious one won't even recognise the master if they come. Sentences that had seemed little more than interesting on my first reading suddenly sprang to life as an important thought on the human condition.
If you are seeking to be a more compassionate person, and learn about Tibetan Buddhism, then this is a great book. Having said that, one can't forget that whilst Buddhism is on its basis a philosophy, people like religion and especially it seems the Tibetans. Tibetan Buddhism is in many ways removed from what it is believed the Buddha taught in his lifetime. Indeed Tibetan Buddhism strayed into a hierarchical, feudal, introspective religion before the Chinese occupation and ongoing genocide in Tibet. Having fled their country, through the monks the world has come to know Tibetan Buddhism, and this book is in many ways the pinnacle of the genesis between the compassionate ideals of Tibetan Buddhism, and the democratic, free culture of the modern, democratic nations in which the monks now live and work.
Compassion is the theme of this book, and compassion is the attribute needed most in our world, so reading this book can only be a positive experience for your life, and for the world which you effect with every movement and breath.