The Tibetan Book of the Dead – Carl Jung’s Inspiration

Whilst researching into Vogler’s inspiration I delved a little deeper into the inspirations of Carl Jung who studied mythology and human psychology. I was surprised to find that his theories were heavily influenced by The Tibetan Book of the Dead. It seemed strange that he took this book that depicts the transition from life to death and used it as an influence for the basis of the heroes journey. Maybe this transition between life and death can be brought into account when the hero does not take up the call to adventure, and ultimately lets fear overwhelm him into living a mediocre life; one without challenges or new endeavours.


Image courtesy –

“The text is to be read to the dying and then to the corpse in the days after death to help it be released from rebirth and achieve nirvana.  Again and again, the text implores the dead to embrace the clear light from above which appears bright and frightening to the ignorant, who prefer the dull light from below.  Embracing the clear light, which they are now ‘set face to face’ with, results in liberation, while running into the softer dim light means being reborn in the world of suffering and desire.”

– quoted from Eric Gerlach’s blog entitled ‘Asian Philosophy 5: Buddhism in Tibet, China and Japan’. (link here)


Image courtesy – Youtube

After having a read through a few excerpts from The Tibetan Book of the Dead I found a simple quote that I feel relates to the Voguer Presentation; in particular to the herald/threshold guardian archetype’s which we will be discussing.

“how hollow and futile life can be when it’s founded on a false belief in continuity and permanence.”  – Sogyal Rinpoche

In reality if we had too much permanence in life, life would become stagnant and our inspiration could fade quickly. Taking risks and fighting the urge to stay safe ultimately prevents us from a life of boredom and dissatisfaction.

I gave this documentary a watch and found it very interesting on the subject.


Karma-gliṅ-pa, Zla-ba-bsam-‘grub, and Evans-Wentz, W. (1960). The Tibetan book of the dead. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

YouTube. (2017). The Tibetan Book of the Dead – The Great Liberation . – Documentary (1994-Film) –. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Feb. 2017].

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