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addabook - Beyond Religion
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Beyond Religion
Ethics for a Whole World
Dalai Lama
read on December 1, 2013

I didn't really know what to expect going in, but the Dalai Lama impressed my socks off on this book. Obviously he is a deeply religious man, but the book absolutely stays true to its title. This is not a book about religion. He neither promotes his own religion nor denigrates any others. In fact, he has many, many kind things to say about the other religions, but focuses entirely on a necessarily-secular view of ethics based on compassion. Many times throughout the book, he reenforces his points with science (!), and a handful of times makes reference to the latest developments in neuroscience and makes several comments about how excited he is about the advances in that field (particularly about the insight it can give us to ourselves and our own consciousness). I could hang with this guy. This is officially my go-to answer next time I ever get asked "if you could eat dinner with one person living or dead, who would it be?"

Two quotes I thought were great:

Time and geography will always impose limits on how much wealth anyone can succeed in accruing in a single lifetime. Given this natural limit it seems wiser to set one's own limits through the exercise of contentment. In contrast, when it comes to acquiring mental riches the potential is limitless. Here, where there is no natural limit, it is appropriate not to be contented with what you have, but to constantly strive for more. Unfortunately, most of us do the exact opposite. We are never quite satisfied with what we have materially, but we tend to be thoroughly complacent about our mental riches.

and...

All pleasures based on sensory stimulation derive at some level from the satisfaction of a craving, and if we become obsessed with satisfying that craving this will eventually turn into a kind of suffering.

This guy knows what he's doing.

Author Bio:

Dalai Lama /ˈdɑːlaɪ ˈlɑːmə/ (US), /ˌdælaɪ ˈlɑːmə/ (UK) is a title given to spiritual leaders of the Tibetan people. They are monks of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism founded by son of an official of the Yuan Dynasty of China, Je Tsongkhapa. The Dalai Lama title was created by Altan Khan, Shunyi Wang of China in the Ming Dynasty of China in 1578. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso. The Dalai Lama has always been an important figure of the Gelug tradition. Although finding dominance in Central Tibet, the Dalai Lama has been an important figure beyond sectarian boundaries. The Dalai Lama figure is important for many reasons. Since the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama his personage has always been a symbol of unification of the state of Tibet, where he has represented Buddhist values and traditions. The Fifth Dalai Lama was granted by the Shunzhi Emperor of China a golden seal of authority and golden sheets for the exercise of leadership over Buddhism under the heaven. The Dalai Lama is considered to be the successor in a line of tulkus who are believed to be incarnations of Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, called Chenrezig in Tibetan. The name is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning "ocean" or "big" (coming from Mongolian title Dalaiyin qan or Dalaiin khan, translated as 'Gyatso' in Tibetan) and the Tibetan word བླ་མ་ (bla-ma) meaning "master, guru". From 1642 until 1705, and from 1750 to the 1950s, the Dalai Lamas or their regents headed the Tibetan government (or Ganden Phodrang) in Lhasa which governed all or most of the Tibetan plateau with varying degrees of autonomy under the Qing Dynasty of China,up to complete sovereignty which was rejected by both China and Republic of China. This government also enjoyed the patronage and protection of firstly Mongol kings of the Khoshut and Dzungar Khanates (1642–1720) and then of the emperors of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1720–1912).