Using quotes and poetry from some lovely sources such as the Tao Te Ching and the Sonnets to Orpheus, Francois Cheng brings us a beautiful book about death. Five Meditations on Death was translated by Jody Gladding and simply contains five chapters and a very short preface by Jean Mouttapa. Cheng mixes Eastern and Western ideas in both philosophical and poetic ways in this, his second book of meditations.
The first thing I noticed about this book is that each meditation reads very differently. The first meditation was honestly difficult for me to get through; it's language and phrasing is very philosophical while at the same time being direct. For some reason I found myself feeling like I need to read this meditation quickly, somehow the word choices caused me to feel rushed. Happily the other meditations read slower, making the rest of the book a much easier read. The second is beautiful, the third thoughtful, the fourth informative and the fifth, poetic. Each of these meditations being so different, despite the difficulty of the first, is one of the biggest things that makes this book so moving. Taken as a whole, this is a book which will give you cause to think about death.
I find that this book is something which could really help a reader who needs personal comfort with the idea and concept of death, but I do not feel it would help someone cope with the death of a loved one. Recommended, provided the reader has an interest in the emotions and philosophy surrounding death.
~review by Jessica Elizabeth
Author: Francois Cheng
117 ppg; $16.95
2013; Inner Traditions