Annotation of the Tibetan People about the Death


Death, to most Tibetan people, does not mean the ending of a life, but instead, it means the start of a new life. According to the doctrine of the Tibetan Buddhism, every thing has soul, and every life will be reincarnated. In this sense, the death means a separation of the two; while the soul that escapes from an old body transmigrates to a new body.

However, according to the doctrine, life is cycled in six different kinds of existence of the tripe world. Those who exercised virtuous practices will be sent to one of three virtuous kinds of existence, i.e. celestial, human or denizen; while those who had committed sinful deeds will be sent to one of three sinful kinds of existence, i.e. hell or animals. Sage Padmasambhava, the eminent Indian monk invited by the Tubo King Tsisong Detsan the 8th century wrote these concepts in his book Death and Rebirth.
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Though the concepts concerning the funerals in ancient Tibet are little known, we can still infer from the funeral customs during recent centuries, that the people attitude towards the death as well, as their concepts that permeate the funeral practices and rituals are generally the same. These are guided by the Buddhist doctrine about the soul and transmigration, and also lead to Tibetan funeral customs with the utterly different character.

Though the concepts concerning the funerals in ancient Tibet are little known, we can still infer from the funeral customs during recent centuries, that the people attitude towards the death as well, as their concepts that permeate the funeral practices and rituals are generally the same. These are guided by the Buddhist doctrine about the soul and transmigration, and also lead to Tibetan funeral customs with the utterly different character.
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This custom expresses the Tibetan people understanding concerning death, which, to them, is no more than a temporary departure, and therefore, it is not necessary to have extreme grief about it. This unique way of understanding and annotation about the life and death helps to form the kernel of overall Tibetan folk customs. That kernel is their optimistic personality, which makes the people here attach more importance on harmonizing with, than of struggling against, the harsh natural environment.