Tibetan delok

In Tibetan tradition, there is an interesting phenomenon called delok, which literally means 'returned from the dead'. The name deloks is given to people who seemingly 'die' as a result of an illness, and find themselves traveling in the Bardo, before returning to life again. His Holiness the Dalai Lama observed that this argument could offer some interesting parallels with the NDE. In a book called Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying: An Exploration of Consciousness with the Dalai Lama (Varela 1998) he mentions the story of a young lady who was instructed by her mother not to touch her body. For a week the mother remained immobile: 'We are not sure whether this person was even breathing, or whether there might have been subtle respiration during this period' (ibid.: 206). When she regained consciousness, she narrates having visited various places.

Another interesting account of this curious phenomenon is featured by Sogyal Rinpoche in his book The Tibetan Book of the Living and the Dying (1992), where he narrates the story of a Lingza Chokyi, who lived in Tibet in the sixteenth century. She died and found herself out of the body. She had the vision of a pig's corpse lying on her bed and wearing her clothes. She also saw her relatives and attempted to communicate with her living relatives as they were doing the practices for her death. She felt joy every time the practices were done. Then she heard the voice of someone she thought to be her deceased father, and thus followed him to the Bardo realm. Miss Chokyi described this like a place with a bridge leading to hell. There she met the Lord of Death, who was counting the good or evil actions of the dead, as well as people who recounted their stories and a great yogin who had come to the hell realms in order to liberate other beings (ibid.: 330). At the end she was sent back because there had been an error of her name and family, and it was not yet her time to die. A similar phenomenon has been encountered in Pasricha and Stevenson's study on NDE in India (Pasricha and Stevenson 1986).

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