Leonard Cohen Narrates Film on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Featuring the Dalai Lama (1994)
“Death is real. It comes without warning and it cannot be escaped,” are the first words you will hear once you play the special documentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead on which now late Leonard Cohen appears as a narrator.
The National Film Board of Canada that produced the series did well in choosing Cohen as narrator for The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life, where also the Dalai Lama appears and shares his own views on life and death (see at 33′ 22”) and The Great Liberation that focuses on the life of an old Buddhist lama and 13-years old novice monk as they offer the guide to another deceased peson with the text of the Bar-do (in Tibetan meaning “the organization of the state between, usually reffered between death and rebirth”). Leonard’s voice is not only deep, but also perfect, soothing, so that it really guides you with his reading in the between realms.
It was with sadness to receive the news on Cohen’s death on Friday, November 11, at the age of 82. The legendary musician left a huge legacy of work for the generations now and the ones to come. Aside that we can praise him for a life-time of dedication in music and art, his other corpus of work is surely not to be forgotten.
When it comes to the documentary on the Tibetan Book of Death, it is no surprise that Leonard was picked for the role of narrator in 1994. Oftentimes, during his lifetime, Cohen was identified strongly with Judaism, as he was incorporating Jewish themes and lyrics into his music and poetry, but later in life he really dedicated to Zen Buddhism and Zen meditation.
This was not just another way of a famous person from the West to meet with Eastern teachings, but it was by far more ellaborative and more profound. In 1996 he was also ordained as a Zen Buddhist Monk, where he was given his Dharma name Jikan, or “Silent One.”
“All these things have their own destiny; one has one’s own destiny. The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show,” he has stated then.
As Cohen tells in the documentary, in Tibetan tradition, the time spent in the between supposedly lasts 49 days after a person’s death. During that time, a Buddhist yogi reads the Bardo each single day. In this time instance, it is believed that the consciousness of the dead person, hovers betwen one life and another, and can hear the instructions that are being read to him or her. The documentary gives us a more profound look into this ceremony, as it is performed for a villager who passes away.
Without further ado, see the documentary here:
video source: IndependentOvergroundTV
You Can Also Purchase Copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead here