Well, the Tibetan Book of the Dead has lead me to The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.
This gives a pretty in depth look at Tibetan Buddhism and some practical tips on meditation but I wanted something a bit more on the practical side, so now I'm reading Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das, an American who journeyed to Nepal in the 60s to learn about Buddhism.
This is good so far (about a fifth read). It breaks down Buddhism into the fundamentals and explains them clearly. I did get two mantras from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying though:
Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum This is called the Padmasambhava mantra.
Padmasambhava is regarded as a Buddha by Tibetans and is known as Guru Rinpoche (Precious Master). In the 8th century B.C. he is said to brought Tantric Buddhism to Tibet from what is now Pakistan.
Om represents body, speech and mind. So we are using all three purposefully.
Ah represents the heart chakra or compassion. Hum means inseparability or indivisibility.
Vajra symbolises a thunderbolt (unstoppable force), a diamond (cuts through anything) and also active compassion.
Guru is a wise teacher.
Padma is the lotus flower which represents the enlightened mind because the lotus grows in muddy water but is stainless and so the enlightened mind is not influenced by the delusion, ignorance etc. it is surrounded by. It also represents wisdom.
Siddhis are paranormal powers attained through spiritual mastery and perfection. Hum means inseparability or indivisibility.
These 12 syllables are said to invoke the wisdom mind of Padmasambhava or Padmasambhava manifested as sound. They are a blessing said to be the equivalent of reciting the entire Buddha teachings.
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om represents body, speech and mind.
Mani means a jewel representing the altruistic intention to become enlightened for the benefit of humanity.
Padme means the lotus flower which represents wisdom of the enlightened mind.
Hum means inseparability or indivisibility.
These 6 syllables represent the intention to become enlightened by gaining wisdom.
My studies continue...