Karl Käsnapuu (University of Tartu, Estonia) “Applying Near-death Study Tool on the Tibetan Book of the Dead”


The research of near-death experiences has been in rise already for four consecutive decades. Researchers gather more and more data of different subjective experiences. Nowadays people even have an opportunity to report their NDEs anonymously over the internet.

Many investigators in the field (starting already from Raymond Moody, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross etc.) have noted that the contents of the reports of NDEs quite frequently include similarities with the contents of the well known Tibetan piece of sacred literature – the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” (originally labelled “Bardo Thodol”, 8th c. CE).

To put that claim to the test and to evaluate to what extent the claim can hold – the Near-Death Study Tool – the Greyson NDE Scale was applied on the text of Bardo Thodol. Bruce Greyson’s NDE Scale was used because it is widely known and has been used in a considerable amount of cases to give quantitative measures of the NDE and its components.

Using a method of directed content analysis, the Greyson NDE Scale was applied on the text of the Bardo Thodol. Despite the unusual approach, the aim of the study is well mounted in its inclination to firstly fixate and evaluate the concurrent elements in these two narratives based on those quite different sources.

 As the results encompassed strong representation of NDE elements in the narrative of Bardo Thodol, it has potential for further imagination. Can a claim be made that sufficiently mounted motivation for further studies is demonstrated? Possibilities and dangers? Pros and cons?