Who can study Buddhism and not read something by His Holiness The Dalai Lama? This book is one in The Path To Enlightenment Series. The Dalai Lama has written more books than I could list here, and I recommend reading any one of them.
The book discusses the principles of Buddhism from the perspective of our natural human fear of our own death. From the Buddhist point of view, we do not have to fear death if we have a secure understanding of the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. The reason a good practitioner of these teachings can die peacefully without regret is because his or her human potential is fulfilled.
Although we may think that we suffer from such things as natural disasters, biological frailties, human enemies or opportunities lost, our real enemy is our own mind. The path to true happiness is basically to let go of our desires for all these impermanent objects and states of mind. Remove the wanting and you remove the tortures of unfulfilled desires and disappointing outcomes. The real goal in life is to just see things as they are. In this way you can live your life to its full potential and not regret when the end comes.
To cultivate this awakening mind, meditation is essential. We must be ever mindful of our disturbing emotions. The mind must be trained and disciplined. But a follower of the Buddha must also act and live his or her life by treating all sentient beings as your friends. Your worst enemies are really your best teachers. Anger is the greatest hindrance to cultivating the spiritual path. It is your enemies who confront you that will test your patience and teach you to be mindful.
The title and subject of this book particularly interested me, but I believe that the wisdom of the teacher can be garnered from any of his books. I am always having to catch myself when I begin pondering why someone did not teach me these things when I was younger. Then I try to apply a little of the wisdom I have read here and I realize that I am feeding my mind with the negative emotion of regret rather than just seeing.
Everyone of us will die one day, and most of us have been living for decades without realising the purpose of this life. This book outlines the basic beliefs of buddhism on the subject of living and dying in a way that will make living more joyful and dying more peaceful. The little examples and analogies used throughout the book (as in most buddhist teaching traditions) help readers relate better to the topics concerned. In a nutshell, it tells you life is not the beginning, we have come a long way to become who we are, and we are working towards the shaping of our future, not just in this life, but many more lives to come.
If you are a buddhist, this little book encapsulates the ideas of living & dying the buddhist way in a brief yet comprehensive manner. If you are not a buddhist, this little book gives you a glimpse into the philosophy and mindset of the religion in a very personal manner and you don't have to be a buddhist to practice the teaching.