Roger J. Woolger, Ph.D.
Dr. Roger Woolger here presents the connections he has discovered between the theories of Tibetan Buddhism, as expressed in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, and what we find in past-life therapy. An important article that most past-life therapists (and others) will relate to. This article is based on a lecture given at the November 6, 1998 Conference of The Association of Humanistic Psychology (Britain), held at Stoke Rochford Hall, Grantham, Lincolnshire. A shorter version is published in the Spring issue of Self and Society, Journal of the AHP (B).
In recent times there has been a renewed interest in ways of looking at death, transition and, significantly, rebirth. In hospitals the work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and the Hospice Movement has humanized the experience of death. The remarkable writings about near death experiences of Raymond Moody and Ken Ring are widely known and in many ways they have changed consciousness of what death and transition might be about.
To amplify this picture, there have been some extremely valuable works on the death transition by Buddhist teachers in the west, notably Sogyal Rinpoche. His commentary, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, is a superb modern amplification of the archaic symbolic material of the famous Tibetan Book of the Dead that fascinated Jung a generation ago. In addition, our growing appreciation of the phenomenon of shamanic journeying has lead to the phenomenological discussion of both near death experiences and actual death experiences as types of out of body or “other worldly” experiences. German anthropologist Holger Kahlweit has even stated in his book Dreamtime and Inner Space, “As far as I am concerned, an out of body experience is identical with a near death experience.” My own findings from past-life regression therapy fully agree with this and in fact add a huge amount of detail to both shamanic and Tibetan studies. This is what I want to sketch in what follows.