History of The Tibetan Book of the Dead to be Told During CWRU Talk

Donald Lopez

Donald Lopez

Since its publication in 1927, The Tibetan Book of the Dead by W.Y. Evans-Wentz has inspired people from Carl Jung and Timothy Leary to healthcare workers in the hospice movement to adopt Buddhist ways.

But what separates fact from fiction in the book? Donald Lopez, a Buddhism scholar from the University of Michigan and the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhism and Tibetan Studies, will talk about the bestseller’s history during the concluding talk of the 2011 Asian Studies Lecture Series at Case Western Reserve University.

The free, public lecture, “Tibet, America and the Book of the Dead” begins at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, in Clark Hall 309.

Lopez, who is chair of Michigan Society of Fellows, is the author of The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Biography. His book follows the evolution of the book’s origin from Evans-Wentz’s travels to the Himalayas where he chanced upon some Buddhist text that was translated into English by a local schoolteacher. Evans-Wentz and the teacher worked together to create a book that has sold more than 1 million copies and taken twists and turns in its interpretation over past decades.

“This lecture will tell the story of how an obscure Tibetan work became the most famous Buddhist text in the western world and an instant classic,” said anthropologist Charlotte Ikels, director of the Asian Studies Program at Case Western Reserve.

For information, call 216.368.0097 or visit case.edu/artsci/asia.

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