This book is perhaps the best introduction to the Dalai Lama available. In this slim, compact and hard-hitting book, you are exposed to the Dalai Lama and his ideas from all different angles. Perhaps that is what I like best about the book: Unlike other books which single-mindedly focus on one aspect of his thought, this one covers a lot of ground, and places the Dalai Lama's life in context. I found the book great, in that it blends the biographical with the intellectual, and the spiritual with the practical. For newcomers to the subject of Buddhism or to the Dalai Lama, this book is unmatched. Even for the introduced, however, this books is a gem. A well-edited anthology of writings about the Dalai Lama.
WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN THE BOOK:
1) The Dalai Lama's 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture: A timely address to his "brother and sisters" around the world. A well-written call for peace and understanding.
2) An understanding of the Tibet-China issue in historical context, as well as the Dalai Lama's position on the matter.
3) A quick primer on meditation: What it is meditation? Why it is important, and how to go about practicing it?
4) In simple, straight-forward language, the Dalai Lama's philosophy of kindness and compassion as it applies to practical, everyday life.
5) A detailed discussion about the relationship between Buddhist doctrine, Faith and Science, as the Dalai Lama see it.
6) The Dalai Lama's thoughts on environmental protection and ecological awareness.
7) The Dalai Lama's words for Western Buddhist practicioners.
8) The Dalai Lama's vision of Religious Pluralism/Cooperation.
9) The Dalai Lama's take on universal human rights and responsiblities.
10) Two penetrating interviews with the Dalai Lama (conducted by John Avedon and Catherine Ingram)
11) Lastly, on a general note, you will be inspired to contemplate and practice living a truely ethical life.
This book contains a number of interesting articles about the Dalai Lama as well as many illuminating speeches and addresses by him. One can't but be impressed by his concern for the suffering of the Tibetan people. At the same time - as a theist - I find much of what he teaches quite troubling. For example: "Since all the substances for enlightenment exist within ourselves, we should not look for Buddhahood somewhere else." [p. 79.] "Basically all the great teachers, such as Guatama Buddha, Jesus Christ, or Mohammed, founded their new teachings with a motivation for helping their fellow humans." [p. 57.] "Buddhists do not accept a creator; Christians base their philosophy on that theory." [p. 54.]
At least as reflected in this collection, the Dalai Lama's teaching is directly contrary to historic monotheism: there is no personal god, no created universe, no ultimate accountability, no sin. Man's solution is to look within. Not surprisingly, this "psychological" approach is in accord with our therapeutic culture. Indeed, much of today's "new age" movement seems to be taking its cues from Buddhism. In light of the "atheistic" (for lack of a better term) nature of the Dalai Lama's teachings, it is sad that may supposedly orthodox monotheists like John Paul II are so quick to praise him.