As a primer on living the good life, few books compete with How to Practice
, another profound offering from the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Westerners may be confused by the book's title, assuming that it focuses solely on Buddhist meditation and prayer techniques. Though it does address meditation and prayer, at its core this is a book that demonstrates how day-to-day living can be a spiritual practice. There are two ways to create happiness:
The first is external. By obtaining better clothes, better shelter, and better friends we can find a certain measure of happiness and satisfaction. The second is through mental development, which yields inner happiness. However, these two approaches are not equally viable. External happiness cannot last long without its counterpart.... However, if you have peace of mind you can find happiness even under the most difficult circumstances.
As he has in previous books (An Open Heart
, The Art of Happiness
), the Dalai Lama reminds us that developing peace of mind means paying attention to our daily attitudes and choices as well as taking the time to meditate and be prayerful. The six-part book covers Buddhist meditation techniques and visualization exercises as well as daily thoughts and actions that foster morality and wisdom. --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
The Dalai Lama, a formidable teacher, presents a way that is the middle way, but not necessarily the easy way. Because the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism has a natural gift as well as the translating and publishing resources that makes his teachings accessible, it is easy to forget the rigor and depth of those teachings. Too, Buddhism so often appears in the West as a system of daily behavior and practice that it is also easy to overlook the compelling intellectual challenge it presents to the Western understanding of reality. His Holiness starts on familiar Buddhist ground (morality of action, suffering, compassion) and chapter by chapter adds doctrine and complexity until teachings from the heights of imaginative Tantra and Tibetan deity yoga are being explicated. For the uninitiated the climb is steep, and those seeking general ethical guidance would do better with an easier text (His Holiness has written those, too). For the serious, however, the Dalai Lama offers elegant clarity about the paradoxes at the heart of Buddhism including the central Heart Sutra itself, the teaching of form-is-emptiness and about the intellectual intricacy of Buddhist teachings. Tibetan Buddhism is considered the esoteric wing of Buddhism; this slice shows some layers of its complexity while whetting the spiritual appetite for more understanding, or what Buddhists would call the intention for enlightenment.
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