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How to See Yourself As You Really Are Paperback – November 6, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He frequently describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. He passed his scholastic examinations with honors at the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa in 1959, the same year Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives.

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.

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.

Foreword

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 the Audible Audio Edition edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743290461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743290463
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Z. M. Ridgway on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very comprehensive guide to Buddhist meditation practices. Delivered as always in the Dalai Lama's distinctive style - full of humor, joy, and gentle compassion.

The one proviso regarding this book - unlike many of the Dalai Lama's other books, this book is actually intended as a guide to practitioners of Buddhist meditation, and not as an informative source for interested non-practitions (like "The Art of Happiness).
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Format: Hardcover
I believe the Dalai Lama is the closest thing we have to a Buddha on earth. His writing is full of grace and enlightenment. In this book he takes on the difficult task of explaining the true condition of a human being-impermanent conditional consciousness. This topic is very difficult to explain by putting it into words. The Dalai Lama does a great job and then follows up with many exercises. Here is how I would summarize this books teachings:

We are not our body, nor even our mind. if we were we could not say my mind or my body. Then what are we? We are "like" and illusion existing through our 5 aggregates, body, thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and consciousness. No "I" can be located. The closest we can come is understanding that we are consciousness observing the present moment, all else is thought and mental formation. Who we think we really are is just a mental formation we hold in our mind of our beliefs about ourselves our religion, height, weight, name, etc. Enlightenment is simply understanding this and the nature of reality.

I hope I did some justice to this books topic, but I highly recommend reading this book to move farther down the road to enlightenment.
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Format: Hardcover
I have over 100 books on buddhism and meditation and if I had to pick my favorite this is it. To me it contains everything an aspiring buddha needs to know and practice.Especially good if you don't have access to a teacher or a spiritual center.
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By Malomi on February 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Only someone with such a profound insight and deep understanding over a subject as complex as emptiness is, can expound it as clear, easy going, way as His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama... This is a wonderful book guiding the reader step by step into a precise methodology to discriminate between the way things appear to our senses and the way they actually exist... Inspiring, clarifying, amazing!!!

A book that can be enojoyed at so many levels!!!
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Format: Hardcover
I agree with the earlier reviewer who said this book is intended for practicing Buddhists, but anyone interested in Advaita Vedanta, or any other practice which serves to wake one up to the true nature of reality would benefit from reading it. In Buddhism, it is suggested that all our problems spring from the misapprehension that we and everything around us are separate 'things.' This book deals directly with this issue and provides a very solid foundation for practice, which so many other books on this subject lack. If you liked Ken Wilber's "No Boundary," I think you may love this book, as it approaches the same subject from a different perspective and includes methods of practice as well.
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Format: Paperback
Like a few other reviewers, I am in the beginning stages of my practice of Buddhism, and I have struggled with some of the concepts I have read about from other authors, lamas, and practitioners. However, when I read this book by the Dalai Lama, the veil was lifted from my eyes and I literally felt the sudden rush of understanding. Never have I meditated on a topic so deep and full of mystery and felt that it had been explained so thoroughly and with such clarity.

The pages just fly by as you get lost in your own thoughts - your world will be literally turned upside down as you proceed through the chapters. This book will have you thinking long after completion and will allow you to experience your life through completely different (and more compassionate and understanding) eyes.

Highly recommended for experienced practitioners, as well as beginners like me who wish to grasp an extremely deep and insightful concept that will not be explained with better clarity.
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By G. M. Flach on February 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a book to own and reread if you want to grasp its depth. I would also suggest having some practice or enough introspection to continue the delving into understanding that the HH Dalai Lama is well practiced in and so shares his personal findings within these pages. There are years of wisdom emanating from these words which convinces us that compassion and calm abiding are approachable, it is the way we must be and we must practice and teach others to do so.

But first we must understand ourselves and our tendency toward ignorance most especially our confusion with inherency. That is all is dependant on all, nothing exists in and of itself and as such all is intricately related with cause and effect. Dare I try to explain! The HH Dalai Lama walks us through and provides meditative exercises so we can learn to understand the emptiness of inherency and free ourselves through practicing morality, meditation and wisdom. I am still discovering these blessed implications that manifest themselves each day and further affirm that all is in view. Read to continue your own discovery and to see for yourself.
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