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About the Author
His Holiness frequently states that his life is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values or secular ethics in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of interreligious harmony, and securing the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of their identity, culture, and religion. As a superior scholar trained in the classical texts of the Nalanda tradition of Indian Buddhism, he is able to distill the central tenets of Buddhist philosophy in clear and inspiring language, his gift for pedagogy imbued with his infectious joy. Connecting scientists with Buddhist scholars, he helps unite contemplative and modern modes of investigation, bringing ancient tools and insights to bear on the acute problems facing the contemporary world. His efforts to foster dialogue among leaders of the world's faiths envision a future where people of different beliefs can share the planet in harmony. Wisdom Publications is proud to be the premier publisher of the Dalai Lama's more serious and in-depth works.
Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D., served for a decade as the interpreter for the Dalai Lama. A Buddhist scholar and the author of more than thirty-five books and translations, he is emeritus professor of Tibetan and Buddhist studies at the University of Virginia, where he founded the largest academic program of Tibetan Buddhist studies in the West.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
This book by His Holiness the Dalai Lama stems from a basic Buddhist notion that love and insight work cooperatively to bring about enlightenment, like the two wings of a bird. The overarching theme is that self-knowledge is the key to personal development and positive relationships. The Dalai Lama shows us how, in the absence of true self-knowledge, we hurt ourselves through misguided, exaggerated notions of self, others, external events, and physical things. Even our senses deceive us, drawing us into attachment and negative actions that can only come back to haunt us in the future. The book details how to overcome these mistakes in order to live from a realistic knowledge of our healthy interdependence.
The first part of this book shows how to draw back the deceptive aspect of our experience like a curtain; other approaches, such as suppressing lust and hatred, may be helpful, but they do not address this root problem. By directing our attention to the false veneer that so bedazzles our senses and our thoughts, His Holiness sets the stage for discovering the reality behind appearances. Our tacit acceptance of things as they seem is called ignorance, which is not just a lack of knowledge about how people and things actually exist but an active mistaking of their fundamental nature. True self-knowledge involves exposing and facing misconceptions about ourselves. The aim here is to find out how we get ourselves into trouble, then learn how to intervene on the ground floor of our counterproductive ideas.
Buddhist psychology is known for its detailed descriptions of the mind's workings, and His Holiness uses these insights in a practical way by helping readers catch hold of these processes through their own experience. His central theme is that our skewed perceptions of body and mind lead to disastrous mistakes, ranging from lust at the one extreme to raging hatred at the other, so that we are consistently being led into trouble as if pulled by a ring in our nose. By developing insight into this process, we can free ourselves, and those around us, from these endless scenarios of pain.
This part provides step-by-step exercises to develop our ability to recognize the disparity between how we appear to ourselves and how we actually are. Once we have recognized our warped assumptions for what they are, the second part of the book shows how to undermine them. The tools used to accomplish this transformation are renowned Buddhist reflections for questioning appearances, which the Dalai Lama illustrates with his own experiences. His Holiness guides readers through a variety of practical exercises to help us break down the illusions we have superimposed over and beyond what actually exists, and learn how to act in the world from a more realistic framework. This calls for valuing the interdependence of all things and appreciating the latticework of our relationships for the meaningful contribution it makes to our lives.
The book's third part describes how to harness the power of meditative concentration with insight to achieve immersion in our own ultimate nature, which undermines our problems at their very foundation. The fourth and fifth parts discuss how people and things actually do exist, since they do not exist in the way we assume. The Dalai Lama draws readers into noticing how everything depends on thought -- how thought itself organizes what we perceive. His goal is to develop in us a clear sense of what it means to exist without misconception. Then the final part of the book explains the way this profound state of being enhances love by revealing how unnecessary destructive emotions and suffering actually are. In this way self-knowledge is seen as the key to personal development and positive relationships. Once we know how to put insight in the service of love and love in the service of insight, we come to the book's appendix, an overview of the steps for achieving altruistic enlightenment.
This book itself is an illustration of Tibet's contribution to world culture, reminding us of the importance of maintaining a homeland for its preservation. The light shining through the Dalai Lama's teachings has its source in that culture, offering insights and practices that so many of us need in ours.
Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor of Tibetan Studies
University of Virginia --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication date : December 5, 2006
- File size : 270 KB
- Print length : 292 pages
- Publisher : Atria Books; Reprint edition (December 5, 2006)
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- ASIN : B000N2HBOI
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0743290461
- Language: : English
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #298,744 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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If you are looking for a book that:
(1) Explains emptiness.
(2) Annihilates the the typical perceptions and conceptions of how we ( wrongly and unknowingly) view the world, ourselves, and others.
(3) Leaves you feeling totally in awe, connected to the world and universe.
(4) Carefully and in detail shows you how to see yourself as you really are and, in doing so, leaves little or no room for a selfish viewpoint to remain.
then this is book you have been waiting for.
This book is excellent for anyone who is searching for themselves, dealing with depression, looking to get into meditation, or a whole plethora of other reasons. There is not a person on the planet that could pick this book up and not realize something about themselves they were either hiding from or unaware of.
I recommend this book to everyone I get the chance to talk meditation with.
And no, I'm not meditating, just reflecting on the message though some might call that meditation I do not recognize that as the practice of sitting somewhere quiet and undisturbed while doing the advised exercises in the book. These I am not yet attempting.
But change I am. I'm starting to sort actions, and things into what I need and do not need to spend time or attention or energy on. It's already simplifying my life.
I do not know if I'll ever meditate. I don't align myself as Buddhist or anything. I call myself independent, but if you've read this book this will make you smile. ha!
If you're willing to take the time to read carefully and slowly (notorious book eaters - of which I am one - will have to slow down) you will find something to take away from this book that can only benefit you.
Top reviews from other countries
This is a book for people who already have a good grasp of Buddhist theory - as something of a beginner it was a little too difficult for me.