The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud is famed playwright Jean-Claude van Itallie's poetic adaptation of traditional Tibetan passages used to aid and comfort at the time of death. His lyrical and insightful poetry is accompanied by Gerry Vezzuso's vivid photographs, Tibetan art, and other images evocative of this process. This text leads us through the stages we experience after death and helps us to overcome the ambitions, desires, jealousies, and fears that can obscure our understanding of ourselves and our transition into the next life.
Jean-Claude van Itallie, a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche has been a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism for over thirty years. His play The Tibetan Book of the Dead premiered at La MaMa E.T.C. in New York City in 1983. Van Itallie has written over thirty plays, musicals, and translations including widely produced versions of Chekhov's four major works. His prize-winning American Hurrah is considered the watershed political play of the sixties. He leads workshops in the healing power of theater around the country. He lives in Western Massachusetts, where he has transformed his farm into Shantigar Foundation, where artistic and spiritual practices meet.