Continuing a dialogue started over 30 years ago between Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama, these talks at the Abbey of Gethsemani discuss 1) Practice of prayer and meditation 2). stages of growth, 3) the role of teacher, and 4) the goals of spiritual and social transformation.
The Dalai Lama sees the role of religion in alleviating human suffering, and the question for him is not which religion is right, but which is right for a particular person. I thought the chapter on achieving Calm Abiding was most practical, with antidotes to "the five faults", for example "The third fault is laxity and excitement. Its antidote is introspection". Discussing spiritual life, he discusses the six perfections, and sees similarity between the Christian and Buddhist monastic traditions of morality, simplicity, and contentment. Finally he discusses Nirvana, and the Christian goal of union with God. By sharing ideas between these traditions there is hope that tolerance, generosity, and love will be cultivated.
Dialogue is key in fostering mutual understanding with those of different religious faith groups. Such an encounter occured during the 1996 Gethsemani Encounter where Buddhist and Christian monks engaged one another on topics regarding the spiritual life.
Out of that context came this book which contains talks that His Holiness the Dalai Lama made concerning Tibetan Buddhist spirituality. The depth and breadth of his talk applied to both groups. Although his talks were of course grounded in Buddhism the advice given transcends mere sectarian concerns.
His Holiness is concerned about the daily practice of all spiritual seekers and gives pointers as to how one can be effective in one's practice through meditation, fostering a solid teacher-student relationship, the role of community in the spiritual life and the stages of spiritual growth.
I would highly recommend this gem to those who are interested in fostering an inter-religious dialogue with non-Christian groups and for those who desire to strengthen their own spiritual journey. Spirituality know no sectarian boundaries.