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Délok (Tib. འདས་ལོག་, Wyl. 'das log) literally means “returned from death,” and traditionally déloks are people who seemingly “die” as a result of an illness, and find themselves travelling in the bardo. They visit the hells, where they witness the judgement of the dead and the sufferings of hell, and sometimes they go to paradises and buddha realms. They can be accompanied by a deity, who protects them and explains what is happening. After a period of about a week the délok is sent back to the body with a message from the Lord of Death for the living, urging them to spiritual practice and a beneficial way of life. Often the déloks have great difficulty making people believe their story, and they spend the rest of their lives recounting their experiences to others in order to draw them toward the path of wisdom. The biographies of some of the more famous déloks were written down, and are sung all over Tibet by travelling minstrels.

Famous Déloks

Further Reading

  • Barron, Richard (trans), Delog Dawa Drolma (author), Delog: Journey to Realms Beyond Death, Padma Publishing, 1995.
  • Bryan J. Cuevas, Travels in the Netherworld: Buddhist Popular Narratives of Death and the Afterlife in Tibet, Oxford University Press, 2008
  • Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (Harper San Francisco: revised and updated edition, 2002), pages 335-336.
  • Tulku Thondup, Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2005) ISBN 1-59030-182-X