And where most consider their individual relationship to the universe, contemplate relationships of my various selves to one another. ” (Man on TV – Waking Life) Wick’s The Therapeutic Psychology of “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” conducts analysis on the meaning and manifest purpose of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It discusses the Tibetan Book for the Dead as part of the Tibetan Buddhist funeral ceremony. The text is spoken to the dead under the belief that their spirit reincarnates.
The text purpose is to offer the dead multiple opportunities for enlightenment. If someone can give up their unconscious desires that led to suffering or choose not to and go through the pattern of their previous existence once more. These experiences are moments of perfect clarity, but soon fall off into slightly enlightened modes of conscious that lead to hell-like experiences of selfishness and animal regression. The purpose of the text is to exemplify that people will repeat themselves if they do not change their ways.
Furthermore, the experience in which an individual experiences divine or hell-like situations dependent upon their personality is called board states. This is when visions of demons or gods within the after- death are experienced reflecting ones inner self. The point is for the dead person to let go of their ego-centered personality, leading to enlightenment. Wicks critical point throughout his essay is that the Tibetan Book of the Dead was written especially for troubled or “bewildered” souls.
He states that the book implies that we are in control of our “desires, interpretations, evaluations, pleasures and our fears” and because of this we can suppress he effects of suffering completely under the assumption that we interpret the seriousness and significance of the world as the “play of our own creation”. He says that the book of the dead is not just a manual of rebirth of personality and composure to the dead but also for those in present life and that it is a book of practical wisdom.
Waking Life explores a variety of philosophical problems, issues and topics of controversy, primarily that of the nature of reality, dreams, the meaning of life and existentialism. The film follows a young man (referred to as The Dreamer) as he wanders through alms and dream-like “realities” in which he meets intellectuals and everyday people who willingly engage him in conversation on very abstract, thought provoking, and philosophical topics, even raising some questions of their own based on the topics stated previously.
As seen in the film The Dreamer encountered, witnessed and participated in some of the most profound, renowned conversations with some Of the worlds top intellectual thinkers. He was essentially being given multiple opportunities to enlighten himself. Instead of gods and demons he was given philosophers and societal anarchists. Each one an expert within their personality or genre of philosophy or life from the nature of reality, dreams, the meaning of life, existentialism… Etc.
In order to relate the film and text the assumption can be made that The Dreamer is dead throughout the film, stuck in a board state in which he encounters the “gods and demons” of the Tibetan Book of the Dead but in a modernist interpretation that depicts the gods as philosophical minds and the demons as social anarchists. The Dreamer becomes more and more cooperative and sociable with his “visions” the more he learns from them. It mess as he became more enlightened the more willing to open his mind to further thought and different ideologies.
The film’s last scene reveals this other character’s understanding that reality could potentially be a single instant someone interprets incorrectly as time or alternatively, life. It concludes that throughout life and living we are constantly being given an invitation by God to become one with the universe and life is the negation of that invitation; that dreams are simply a window into the infinite reality and its nature; to escape this “illusion” someone has to simply accept God’s invitation, which it seems The Dreamer does in the final scene when he floats up into the sky, the infinite abyss.
Waking Life can be seen as a visual representation of what Wicks believes the purpose of the Tibetan Book of The Dead is; a selection of personality genres that offer opportunities to gather old, ego-centric, habits or enlightenment. The book is the help a dead person achieve enlightenment but actually serves to help living “spiritually dead”, the film serves the exact same person just a visual representation. Even though the manifest level of the text and film is someone trying to gather enlightenment and truth after death, the real truth is about life before death.
That is the ultimate goal of both ‘texts”; little life lessons that serve to educate and teach someone how to think, to awaken an intellectual compassionate inner monologue but not to the extent that one would get lost In abstract thinking instead of simply paying attention to what going on in front of them. In a holistic sense, both texts embody the idea of rebirth or starting over. This rebirth is one attained through spiritual “death”; from the ashes something will rise, in a sense. The only ambiguity would be defining what it is that died.
One can argue that if the Tibetan Book of The Dead aims to defeat self-centrism then it is essentially rerouting how it is that people think. People are naturally self-centered. There is no experience someone has had that they are not the absolute center of. The world as everyone experience’s it is there in front of them or behind them, to the left or right of them, every problem is there problem, they are in control of their own minds everyone else’s thoughts have to be communicated, your own is so immediate and real.
Therefore, when it comes to determining what it is that died one can imply that that spiritual death is one of awareness of what it is that truly going on around you, or sense of selflessness and freedom of the mind. Instead of thinking about how the world is frustrating you and how it is so personally and selfishly unfair, you can choose to force yourself to consider the possibility that everyone else in life is equally as frustrated as you are, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than you.
Don’t consider this a lesson in morality but simply a different way of thinking. A withdrawal of egocentrics. That’s why if you are aware enough to give yourself a choice you can either look at the world in the normal “demonic” egocentric way, or consider enlightenment, a “god-like” free mind standpoint. In a sense it’s really a battle against selfishness and compassion. It can be suggested that both text and film serve to teach one how to think, a suggestion that can be initially insulting when implying that one doesn’t really know how to think, but in reality profoundly insightful.
It is bout awareness of what is so real and essential and so hidden in plain sight all around us. It suggests a way of living that involves attention and awareness and discipline. Furthermore it indicates an abandonment of an egocentric view that would encourage a lifestyle and awareness of which a person would be able to truly care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in numerous petty, genuine ways every day. That is real freedom. That is understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.