Vol. VIII No. 3 - Tuesday
January 20 - January 26, 2009



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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

365 Dalai Lama

“365 Dalai Lama, daily advice from the heart” (ISBN 0-00-717903-0, Element Press, 2003) is a hefty soft cover publication, with teachings from the Dalai Lama, one for each day of the year – hence the 365 in the title.
The 365 concepts addressed are lumped together in contrasting ways. Each is entitled ‘Meditations’ but you get meditations on living a life of plenty, followed by the same style of meditation, but this time on living a life of poverty. Others include happiness, unhappiness, and youth, adulthood and growing old, to mention but a few.
The publication was initially transcribed from his native Tibetan into French, then a few years later, into English. Undoubtedly this will lose shades of meaning along the way, but meditations are really quite straightforward, and there are explanatory footnotes where the editors considered this necessary.
On day 28 there is salutary advice to the media. “The favourite subjects in the media tend to be robberies, and crimes, and actions motivated by avarice and hatred. And yet it is not true to say that nothing noble happens in the world, that nothing arises from our good human qualities. Aren’t there people who look after the sick, orphans, the elderly and the handicapped, without any desire to make money? Aren’t there people who act out of love for others? In fact there are many such people, but we have become used to thinking that this type of negative behaviour is normal.” (However, as opposed to many media, I do believe that this newspaper does try to present a balanced picture.)
With the current global conflicts, it is worth pondering on day 23. “In childhood it is easy to make friends. You only have to laugh with someone once and immediately you are friends. Children do not ask about each other’s race or profession. The main thing is that the other person is a human being like us and that we relate to him or her.”
The political arena produces the following, “In defence of politicians, they are necessarily the products of a society. If it is a society that only thinks of money and power, without any concern for moral values, we should not be surprised if politicians are corrupt, and should not therefore consider that the responsibility for such a situation lies entirely with them.” Perhaps the PAD and the UDD and several disbarred politicians should take note.
At B. 495, it is an uplifting publication, and you do not have to profess to the Dalai Lama’s Buddhist faith to see the worth in the book. The 365th meditation even cautions the reader, “If as a Buddhist, you wish to dedicate yourself to humanitarian work, that is a good thing. Check that your intention is perfectly pure. But nevertheless, social action is not in itself, an engaged form of Buddhism if it is not carried out with love and compassion…”
I found it a delightful book, and well worth keeping on your personal bookshelf for reference when needed. Most aspects of human life are covered with the abovementioned compassion. This book deserves a more durable hard cover imprint.

 


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