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Infinite Life: Seven Virtues for Living Well Hardcover – February 19, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; 1ST edition (February 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573222674
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573222679
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Robert Thurman--father of Uma, outspoken critic of George Bush's administration and one of the first Westerners to bring popularize Buddhism in America--has written what is arguably his finest book. In Infinite Life he invites readers into a fascinating new way of thinking, living, and meditating that might do more to save the world than any political act known to humans. In recognizing that our lives and even our moment-to-moment choices have eternal ramifications, we are at once free from the burden of petty pursuits yet suddenly saddled with the weight of infinite responsibility. Thurman helps students understand that carrying this weight is the only way we can free ourselves and the rest of the world form suffering. Buddhists recognize this as the path of "the bodhisattva," dedicated to the well-being of all beings. In order to help readers make this quantum shift in awareness, Thurman structures his chapters around the paramitas, or transcendent virtues: wisdom, generosity, patience, contemplation, justice (usually called "discipline"), and creativity ("diligence"). He adds a seventh virtue: art—as in the "art of infinite living." Each chapter includes a lesson on a virtue as well as meditations and life choices that support personal and global transformation.

"You can try out a whole new approach to life," he promises. "Then we'll explore how can put your new ideas into practice in the world, turning your thoughts into action. We'll examine the repercussions of your personal change on society and on the fragile, opalescent planet. We'll see how personal transformation is social transformation."

He delivers his promise with political and spiritual punch. Some criticize Thurman for his outspokenness against the current Bush administration. But for those who want to use their spirituality to create political change—this book is filled with excellent meditations and lifestyle suggestions for bringing about global compassion and humanity. --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

One day more than 40 years ago, when Thurman was a 21-year-old novice monk (the first Western Tibetan Buddhist monk), he had a physical experience that showed him how the idea of reincarnation, so vast and impossible to verify, can transform our lives right here and now. In his follow-up to Inner Revolution, the Columbia University professor describes how he was walking down a road in New Jersey, sent by his Tibetan teacher to buy milk for tea, when he suddenly experienced the lifting or release of a familiar "push-pressure" around his tail bone. "The pressure gone, I immediately saw that I had always been feeling as if I were being pushed along from behind toward my destination, not only to the grocery store on Route 9 but to my destiny in life, my future in general." Taking stock, he realized that under all of his ordinary thoughts, he had been pondering the Buddhist understanding of the "beginninglessness" of life. Here, in a guide that can be read through as daring thought experiment or delved into as a workbook, Thurman seeks to impart a sense of the inner freedom, the literal lightening up, that becomes possible as we begin to understand that we are all participants in an "infinite life." Thurman explores related transcendent virtues: wisdom, generosity, justice, patience, creativity, contemplation and making art in the service of others. He offers meditations but always returns to the larger truth that true enlightenment--"true awakening to the infinite"--is never an escape from life but a state of awareness and compassion for other living beings. Among the riches offered here is the insight that we do not become faceless blobs as we realize our selflessness and the infinite nature of our lives but true individualists. Liberated from a fear of death and isolation, confident that we are in a long-term relationship with life that can never be severed, we can begin to help ourselves and others to happiness.
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Shirley Priscilla Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In this work author Robert Thurman takes the reader through steps to help rid themselves of negative effects in their lives and lead them to the positive. He talks on such subjects as, Wisdom, Generosity, Patience, and explains their meaning and the effect they have on your life, which runs much deeper than you imagine. He shows the importance of releasing such emotions as anger and the damage it does to us personally.

You will be surprised to find out how much your negative emotions are only hurting yourself.

I have to say that all the principals that he offers would certainly better mankind if they were followed and we would indeed live a much more peaceful existence with one another. He challenges the reader to do a self-examination of their life, and take a good hard look at where they are going and how they are getting there.

I do not agree with some of his beliefs such as reincarnation, however I do applaud his deep conviction of the same.

The work is very readable and easy to understand and would be a great work for any Buddhist to help them in their walk and for those wishing to understand this belief . It would also be a plus for those who want to overhaul their lives and come forth a better human being
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Swing King on March 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book (recently released) redeemed my esteem for Thurman. Following his book "Essential Tibetan Buddhism" I thought perhaps his style of Buddhist thought was not up my alley. But this book is much more natural. Robert perhaps is America's most admired and appealing Buddhist writer/scholar. His first book, Inner Revolution, is an international hit and his lectures at places like Harvard sell out to thousands of participants. Infinite Life shows that all of our actions have countless consequences for ourselves and others, here and now, and after we are gone; in short, we are constantly creating some sort of karma. Here we are introduced to the "Seven Virtues" to reforming our body and mind wisely in order to diminish the more harmful karma created and nurture the more positive variety. In a skilled and practical style, he gives invigorating instructions on understanding human virtue and emotion. Thurman calls us to take on accountability for our actions and their consequences by remaining mindful that our lives are truly immeasurable. This book is one of the best guidebooks for understanding our place in the world and appreciating ways which we can universally thrive in serving other beings. This was a good book.
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75 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Rahayu Ratnaningsih on May 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There are so many facets of Buddhism -one compliments the others-, the true embodiment of emptiness at the very heart of Buddhist teachings that nothing has an inherent existence of its own. No one does a better job than Robert Thurman, one of the most prominent Buddhist scholars representing the Mahayana school of thoughts, in giving a cerebral erudition of the meanings and interpretations of old manuscripts and their relevance to our contemporary life. That is represented, again, in his latest craft. The Mahayana tradition puts a huge emphasis on infinite and universal compassion for all sentient beings, it is the basis of every effort toward self-transformation, that ultimately entails self-transcendence in the selfless spirit of the altruistic mind seeking for enlightenment for the benefits of all. His book works on that basis in a very forceful, dense, idealistic fashion but accessible at the same time.
This Bodhisatva ideal is so infinitely lofty to the point that many people might find it impractical and unrealistic. However, as Thurman point-blankly elaborates throughout the book, that ideal isn't an empty dream of a romantic fool, but it's based on the infinite outlook of life with infinite room for personal growth; infinity that stretches to the "past" and "future" through infinite numbers of past and future lives, intimately intertwined and interrelated.
In this infinite universe, that is supported by science needless to say, there are infinite possibilities. That is one thing. The other is the proclamation that we are all Buddha now, we just need to be awakened to that fact. So if we are all enlightened beings with built-in infinite capacity for altruism and infinite deadlines to fulfill our Bodhisatva ideal, aiming high isn't that crazily unrealistic.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Joseph S. Maresca HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent but somewhat controversial work which embellishes the Mahayana School of Buddhism. The author espouses the virtues inherent in selflessness and individual/collective
wisdom. He challenges the reader to embrace creativity and
generosity in interpersonal relationships. Most importantly,
the work demands that we do a critical self-examination to
determine what is within us. It is only by knowing ourselves
thoroughly that we can transcend our current condition.
This self-transformation is a condition precedent to achieving the creativity and generosity of spirit needed to help others.
The book challenges us to transcend ourselves and achieve
levels of learning and experience outside the normal everyday
patterns of life. It is an important contribution to
religion, philosophy and the psycho-social sciences.
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