The Hidden History of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. By Bryan J. Cuevas. Oxford University Press, 2003. 328 pages. $25.00 (paper).
AbstractJournal of the American Academy of Religion Adornment to create a âpoetics of enlightenmentâ (248) meant to evoke the profound gulf between enlightenment and unenlightenment, all the while maintaining firm conviction in the reality of enlightenment as it is described in Buddhist scripture (252). If the Adornment thus cannot be described as modern in terms of content and argument, it âmay be judged,â according to Lopez, âas a modernist work from the perspective of its style; it is a collage of elements drawn from disparate sources, its tone vacillating between pious poetry and biting satireâ (252). Yet these elementsâcollage, stylistic variation, and even satireâmay be found throughout the history of Tibetan literature (one has only to look at the biting irony of the twelfth-century contemplative-cum-military leader Lama Zhangâs self-critical poetry or the polemic invective of the great fifteenthcentury Gelukpa logician Kedrup). These stylistic features may be necessary to count Gendun Chopelâs work as modern, but they are not sufficient. Lopez presses the point further stating that Gendun Chopel âmanipulates . . . the foundational categories of Buddhist philosophy so that the aesthetics of enlightenment might triumph over the philosophical certainty derived from reason.â He concludes that âit is