A surprisingly practical seeming guidebook.,
This review is from: The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living (Hardcover)
I had no notions of what Buddhism was like before reading this book, believing it to mostly be a requirement for ritualistic chanting. This book was a surprising eye opener, not only providing me a glimpse into the true nature of Buddhism, but also providing a number of practical tips for life improvement.
I was very impressed by what I understood to be the basic idea of Buddhism by my reading of this book: that one should strive for happiness, actively and thoughtfully eliminating those factors that take one from that path. In my opinion, the simplicity of this idea is its strength.
There are a number of other ideas presented that are integrated with this approach of happiness driven life. Examples are the building of compassion, dealing with anger, hatred and anxiety, and techniques such as shift of perspective. Even though I expect this book really only touches the surface of Buddhism, there are enough ideas here that are new that I'd expect many western cultured people could profit from an open minded read of even this introductory book. I plan to read it at least one more time, and perhaps purchase a copy for myself permanently instead of re-borrowing this book from the library once again.
Time and time again as I read this book I was impressed with the personality of the Dali Lama. He sets an amazing example to mankind, but it is an example built of many small things. There were a number of anecdotes, recalling or describing some compassionate handling of somebody he blundered across in his travels. That one could spend a lifetime consistently demonstrating such compassion is somewhat overwhelming. I think that if he was asked about this, he would stress that the key is doing this one act at a time, and that in isolation no such single act should be overwhelming.