The title of this book, 'Awakening the Mind, Lightening the Heart' is, in essence, the core topic of this book. This book is entirely dedicated on teaching us how to awaken our minds and lighten our hearts.
His Holiness's eloquence and understanding of compassion are great and vast as an ocean. I realized this while reading the book. It took me over two months' time to get to page 30, because I was determined on completely understanding and grasping the meanings of each page before I moved onto the next. I was also determined to apply each page's teachings into my life before I'd move onto the next. How wrong I was to think I would finish this book in a timely fashion.
I would read a few pages, then set the book aside and contemplate on the teachings. I'd carry His Holiness's words in my heart and my mind as I went about my day's events. I'd go back to read the book, thinking I'd pick up where I left off. While skimming through the pages I had already read, I'd stop and notice that I realized something about a paragraph. How curious, I had already read it, but suddenly it was as if I were reading it again with fresh eyes, and I'd learn yet something else. Doing this again and again, it took me two months before finishing page 30. Then I'd look back on the past few months and realize I had basically changed into a much more patient and caring person.
I started on this book a long while back, and I'm still discovering and rediscovering truths and revelations in His Holiness's simple words.
The reason I provided the small anecdote is because this book can last you a lifetime if you apply His Holiness's teachings into your life. There is a lifetime's worth of lessons to be learned from the seemingly simple exterior of his teachings.
This book basically starts us at the basics and teaches us the fundamentals of Buddhism. What is suffering? What is the cause of suffering? How do we overcome suffering? The Dalai Lama goes over the Four Noble Truths and the Three Poisons (ignorance, greed, hatred) in such a friendly, warm, simple and engaging manner that we can't help but sit there and listen. I felt as if I were a preschooler listening to my favorite teacher while reading this book, and truly, when reading this book with an open, receptive mind, you'll feel as if you're re-learning all the basics about everything. It's as if we've walked all our lives in a manner that has caused us to trip and fall constantly, and here His Holiness is giving us a guide that teaches us why we were walking incorrectly, why our previous way of walking would cause us to fall, and finally, how to practice walking correctly in a manner that won't cause us to fall and hurt ourselves.
Usually, I review books and items pretty harshly. I'll point out descrepancies, things I didn't like, etc. I'm at a loss with this book. I've been a Buddhist for my entire life and after reading this book, I realized just how far from understanding I was. Don't be fooled by the deceptive simplicity of this book. It's one thing to read something and understand it, but in trying to apply it, this book will provide a lifetime's worth of lessons, knowledge, and understanding. It's as if the closer you come to accepting what the Dalai Lama always teaches -- compassion -- the more understanding you gain from the book that perhaps you never saw there before.
This is a book, I feel, that anybody can read. All it does is offer insight into suffering, what causes us to suffer, and how we overcome suffering. It's not about His Holiness preaching on and on about the Dharma. It's about him taking the best of the Dharma and bringing it to you in a very reader-friendly format, coupled with his own explanations.
I couldn't think of anything better.
I have been reading the book each day,it has become so well worn I decided to buy another.The concise step-by-step information appealed to me. The book is well written, illustrating a clear path to enlightenment through wisdom and compassion. The simple steps guide the reader to an easy understanding of the peace and beauty of a compassionate life. I was drawn to discovering more about Tibetan Buddhism after reading "some of the dharma" by Jack Kerouac. In contrast, this book by the Dalai Lama compelling in its advice about the importance of disciplining the mind. Kerouac struggled with these issues, and may have found some measure of comfort had he had this book available to him.