All cultures have funerary literature. The ones that come to mind most frequently are The Egyptian Book of the Dead which provided instructions for the soul’s journey to the next life and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, that has Buddhist monks guiding the souls of the dying through death to their next incarnation. In the Christian tradition it has been guardian angels that have acted as the soul’s guide to paradise. The hymn In Paradisum invokes the angels to escort the soul to heaven, and is still sung at Catholic funerals and around Easter.
I had no idea my left ear was so important.
Here’s a documentary produced by the Film Board of Canada in 1994, and narrated by Leonard Cohen. (In two parts, part 1 is 47 mins long, part 2 is 45 mins long. Save them for a day when you have a little free time.)
“…this enlightening two-part series explores the sacred text and boldly visualizes the afterlife according to its profound wisdom.” A Way of Life” reveals the history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead and examines its traditional use in northern India, as well as its acceptance in Western hospices. Shot over a four-month period, the film contains footage of the rites and liturgies for a deceased Ladakhi elder and includes an interview with the Dalai Lama, who shares his views on the book’s meaning and importance.”