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Showing 1-10 of 95 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on August 7, 2000
In The Art of Happiness The Dalai Lama tells listeners how to defeat day-to-day depression, anxiety, anger, jealousy. The concepts are simple but difficult. If you liked this book I would suggest you also read Way of A Peaceful Warrior and An Encounter With A Prophet
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on March 16, 2000
There is a common thread uniting all living beings, and that is their desire, their right, to happiness. This point is the focus of the Dalai Lama's comments throughout the book, which is written by an American Psychiatrist, Dr. Howard C. Cutler.
In private interviews with Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Dr. Cutler is able to provide his own professional insight into what is a centuries old philosophy. Bringing to light how these ancient teachings are pertinent to modern day living.
You don't have to believe in one religion over another, or in any at all. To benefit from the content of this book. This is not about Buddhism, per se, it is about living.
There is a gentle rhythm to this book - it flows from a question posed to the Dalai Lama, to his thoughtful and inspired response - followed up by Dr. Cutler's professional comments. You'll realize everyday connections that drive home the fact that these are more than lofty ideals, they are real life tools to defeat day-to-day depression, anxiety, anger, jealousy, and other negatives aspects in your life.
The only disappointment is there wasn't more of the Dalai Lama's comments. But it is an excellent resource for anyone - interested in Buddhism or not.
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on January 2, 2000
I would recommend this book to everyone. The only qualifications they must have though is an open mind and the ability accept what another says even though you might think differently. I think that the combination of the Dalai Lama, a devote, Tibetan monk, and Dr. Howard C. Cutler, a Western society psychologists, work well with the book. We get to here from two different views of society. The Dalai Lama offers up his Buddhists beliefs to help others achieve happiness. Understanding that not everyone is a Buddhist and that not everyone believes in a higher, supreme, "being" he offers alternative routes to finding happiness. When there are times that the Dalai Lama's explanations becomes a little difficult to grasp he offers examples in everyday life to illustrate what he has just said. Dr. Cutler also offers everyday experiences, which might be easier for a person from Western society grasp. There are many experiences in which I am sure that everyone can relate to, from our feelings of anxiety to those of hatred of others or ourselves. Within the book we can see how we a closed minded people by the way Dr. Cutler acts, even after he has been lectured on the art of happiness. The book in a whole is great, but like the Dalai Lama says, even something that seems one hundred percent perfect, if you look at it closely you will be able to find something wrong. One thing I didn't like within the book was some of Dr. Cutler's ramblings about his conversation with the Dalai Lama. He does give good scientific evidence to support what the Dalai Lama has said (once again making it logical for the scientific Western society to believe), but sometimes he keeps going on and on about the psychological, and neurological meanings and explanations. I found this to get a bit tiresome after a while, and I'm sure it would be extremely tiresome for someone who has no interest in either subject. Overall though I found this book enjoyable to read, which is hard because for one I hate to read and two, I have a vivid imagination, so anything that usually has no aspect of fantasy in it I find dull. Not with this book though. I liked it so much I picked it up everyday and read, I felt compelled to learn more, compelled to absorb the Dalai Lama's teaching and utilize them in my everyday experiences. If your not happy with your life, or even if you are, I recommend this book as a way to get yourself on track or keep yourself on the right track.
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on May 28, 2000
I enjoyed this book; a little long. I wanted to thank the online reviewer for recommeding this book as well as "Working On Yourself Doesn't Work by Ariel & Shya Kane."I found the Kanes' book to be excellent and easy to read. I have noticed amazing levels of Happiness in my life as a result of reading Working On Yourself Doesn't Work. Being Happy is Possible especially when you don't "work on yourself"!THANKS to the Online Reviewers Again!
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on December 14, 1999
I found this book to be deeply moving. The Dalai Lama's teachings revealed to me the profound problems we have with disconnectivity in our society. My one criticism of the book is that the co-author, Howard Cutler, did not seem to appreciate what the Dalai Lama was saying. His anecdotes (and his questions) revealed that he had not grasped the essence of what the Dalai Lama was trying to teach him. His commentary, interspersed with wonderful interviews with the Dalai Lama, can be quite intrusive, and counteracting the feelings of harmony and enlightenment that the Dalai Lama's lessons produce.
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on March 25, 2001
Always one to be skeptical of these kinds of collaborative book efforts, I think it's important to point out that "The Art of Happiness" was written not by the Dalai Lama, but by Howard C. Cutler, M.D., a psychiatrist. Dr. Cutler weaves together exerpts from numerous conversations with His Holiness spanning many years, and from public talks given by the Dalai Lama throughout Arizona in 1993. The result is an enjoyable and enlightening treatise on a topic of widespread importance: happiness (or the lack thereof).
The book begins by establishing a datum with respect to the purpose of life and the nature of human drives and emotions, and moves on to the overcoming of suffering, anger, hatred and anxiety. Dr. Cutler assumes the position of middleman in passing on to the reader many words of wisdom and by asking the Dalai Lama questions we ourselves might ask as to how to apply Buddhist practices to western society's efforts toward achieving a satisfying, stress-free life. It's a good formula. Dr. Cutler asks the right questions in getting the Dalai Lama to move beyond spiritual edicts, and elaborate on a kind of "westernized methodology" (my words) we can try in attempting to enhance our own emotional well-being. I found the many comparisons between eastern religious practice and western clinical treatment to be very interesting.
If you're after involved, thought-provoking discussions about the intellectual view of relationships and emotional conflicts, this book might come up a little short (read instead "Happiness is a Serious Problem," by Dennis Prager). Still, the wisdom and level-headed composure of the Dalai Lama that Dr. Cutler brings out puts this book high on my recommended list.
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VINE VOICEon May 21, 2003
Let me just say upfront that I'm a pretty skeptical person and I don't go in for touchy-feely stuff very easily. That said, I really enjoyed this book and think that almost anyone could get something out of it.
It is a series of discussions with the Dalai Llama and the author's reflections on his words. The author makes an honest attempt to understand the presented doctrine, but doesn't hesitate to ask probing questions. Sometimes he even gets the Dalai Llama to think about things in a new way!
For me, the main theme of the book was about patience, tolerance, and understanding. It has certainly changed my perspective on human behaviour, and I feel I am calmer for this. Although I am not capable yet of embracing all the qualities that this book espouses, I am definitely changed by reading it.
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on November 30, 2002
Stephanie Brothers
Philosophy 211
Kevin Browne
Book Review
Fall 2002
Living enjoyable, happy lives is something that most try to strive for; however, the path to "happiness" is not always readily apparent. The Art of Happiness: a Handbook for Living, by Howard C. Cutler, MD and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a collection of insight and conversations from the authors. The Dalai Lama gave public talks in Arizona, which Mr. Cutler attended, and they also had many private conversations both in America and while traveling in India. Based on these conversations, Mr. Cutler composed his text, which is intended to be a guide to eliminating the obstacles to and finding happiness. They feel that happiness is determined more by one's state of mind rather than external events, and you can train yourself to change the common practices that lead to an unhappy state of mind.
I found the ideas in this book very interesting as well as practical and logically consistent. I think that this text defends their point very strongly. They argue the premise that through having a positive outlook and avoiding, or gaining a new perspective on, negative events, we can personally control our level of happiness.
The authors provide a good, inductively strong argument. I say this because although the reasoning is good, it is possible to imagine some situations in which a person could not successfully employ these practices. I believe that the basic premise is true; your perspective does strongly shape your level of contentment. The Dalai Lama explains, "While undergoing rigorous training, an athlete may suffer a lot... but the athlete doesn't see it as a painful experience. The athlete would take it as a great accomplishment... but if the same person were subject to some other physical work that was not part of his athletic training, then the athlete would think, `Oh, why have I been subjected to this terrible ordeal?' So the mental attitude makes a tremendous difference" (Cutler 118).
The Dalai Lama offers several more suggestions for cultivating a better outlook. One is to act with compassion toward every person that you meet. He suggests trying to relate to them on the basic level that you are both human. Connecting on this level opens doors to other connections, and it is one basic quality that we all have. Learning to connect with others on this level will allow you to have a happier outlook. He explains the idea in the following passage. "In generating compassion, you start by recognizing that you do not want suffering and you have a right to have happiness. This can be verified or validated by your own experience. You recognize then that other people, just like yourself, also do not want to suffer and that they have a right to have happiness. So this becomes the basis of your beginning to generate compassion" (Cutler 128).
Suffering and problems in our lives are one of the obstacles to happiness. This too, he suggests, can be controlled by outlook. Accepting that suffering will be a part of your life can prepare you for it; it will make you more tolerant, less overwhelmed when bad events come about. "Without a certain degree of tolerance toward suffering, your life becomes miserable; the it becomes like having a very bad night. That night seems eternal, it never seems to end" (Cutler 141).
The claims that the authors make are very well supported, and they are explained very clearly and thoroughly. This book does a particularly good job of taking all evidence into account and addressing opposing arguments and views. In the beginning, Mr. Cutler is a skeptic of the method as well. He assails the Dalai Lama with endless questions, turning his theory inside and out. However, the Dalai Lama responds each time with well thought out, logically consistent replies. This makes the argument particularly convincing; you are able to follow Mr. Cutler in his thought process of eventually accepting this theory.
Overall, I found this argument to be very sound, with no real logical fallacies. The authors do an excellent job of explaining the basic premise that our perception controls our mood, and they are fair in taking into account that some people may not be able to control their mood. They also address that cultivating this new outlook and making real changes takes a long period of time; it will always be a developing process. The authors provide a very solid argument that finding happiness is something that is possible for us all.
References
H.H. the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, MD. The Art of Happiness: a Handbook for Living. Riverhead Books, New York, 1998.
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on December 28, 2001
"The Art of Happiness" is a treatise on the seemingly simple process of living a happy life that is based on numerous interviews that co-author, Dr. Howard Cutler (a psychologist), conducted with the Dalai Lama. Responding to a series of question posed by Dr. Cutler the Dalai Lama offers practical advice on how to understand the elusive nature of happiness and on how to obtain it.
The Dalai Lama's advice is simple but hardly rigid or superficial like most self-help programs. And while the Dalai Lama's insite is largely based on his understanding of the Buddhist tradition, it is hardly religious in nature. For example, when the Dalai Lama proposes a method for coping with with one's enemies or daily misfortunes he explains how the solution might work for a Buddhist, a Christian, or a rational secularist. His goal, it seems it not to prosletize people (indeed, Buddhism is hardly a prosletizing religion) but to provide a solution that is universally applicable to most belief systems. On many occassions Dr. Cutler challenges the Dalai Lama's approach and finds him all to willing to make a critical examination of his own beliefs.
While this book provides an abundance of useful advice, a few of the Dalai Lama's points particularly resonated with me. For example, the Dalai Lama suggests that we should dedicate ourselves to our own happiness with the same enthusiasm as building a family or with the same ambition as advancing our career. He is quick to point out that unlike the mere pursuit of pleasure, happiness is hardly a selfish quest. When we are happy we tend to have a more saluatary effect on others. When we are miserable we easily make others miserable.
More than anything else, the Dalai Lama urges us to approach life with a supple mind. For example, when we focus on how much someone has wronged us, we tend to be too rigid and we miss the complete picture. The chances are that that person has some redeeming qualities and that something in our own personality helped contribute to the situation. Similarly, the Dalai Lama suggests that we look at misfortune as more than just misfortune. When bad things happen to us, they also provide us with some form of opportunity. For example, while he is saddened by loss of his country and by the suffering of his people, the Dalai Lama also rejoices in the fact that life in exile allows him to shed protocal and communicate with people from all over the world.
I know that a lot of people found Dr. Cutler's narrative an intrusive part of this book. While Dr. Cutler is something of a bumbler who gets carried away with his descriptions of the sunset, I found his contribution to this book appropriate and helpful. Through several personal examples, Dr. Cutler points out that appreciating the Dalai Lama's advice is simple enough but actually applying it to one's life is a bit more challenging.
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on May 24, 2006
This book presents some of the Dalai Lama's ideas about daily living as interpreted by a western psychiatrist. Although the Dalai Lama's picture is on the cover, the writing amounts to a simulated interview with commentary.

While I think the book's packaging misrepresents the content to a degree, I still found it to be a useful, informative and very readable introductory taste of Tibetan Buddhist thought for everyday people. It is merely a taste which gives some flavor of the worldview, but it is NOT a thorough introduction to Tibetan Buddhism.

In other reviews, Howard Cutler is criticized more harshly than I think he deserves. I can't speak to his ability as a psychiatrist, but personally I think it is useful to have a book that asks the Dalai Lama questions that are of everyday concern to the average person, present his answer and discuss the implications of his answer in western psychological terms.

I also think the book is important because it gives a feel for what it might be like to be in the presence of the Dalai Lama. Apparently, he has an extraordinary effect on almost everyone he comes in contact with. For those who might not read anything else on about the Dalai Lama, this book is entertaining, accessible and informative about everyday issues. I think it meets a need in the market place, although it certainly isn't "the bridge" between East and West that some buyers may have hoped for.

I could imagine that this book could have been written better. However, I think it still has a lot of value despite its shortcomings.
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