Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
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Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,675 ratings  ·  185 reviews
An unprecedented event: a beloved world religious leader proposes a way to lead an ethical, happy, and spiritual life beyond religion and offers a program of mental training for cultivating key human values

Ten years ago, in his best-selling Ethics for a New Millennium, His Holiness the Dalai Lama first proposed an approach to ethics based on universal rather than religious...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Barry Graham
The Dalai Lama is one of the most misunderstood public figures, and he is misunderstood in two major ways. His fame as a spiritual teacher, combined with the warmth of his huge personality, makes it possible for people to enjoy his presence without actually hearing what he says, and so many of his fans experience him as a cuddly enabler along the lines of Thich Nhat Hanh or Deepak Chopra. In actuality, he is as far from Oprah Winfrey as fire is from ice. He is a deeply serious, tough-minded prac...more
I love the Dalai Lama. Every time I hear him in an interview I smile from ear to ear, I can't help myself.

But I have read several of his books and each and every one was difficult to get through. I listened to this audio, which helps me actually finish books like these, but I had a hard time focusing on what was being said. My mind kept wandering every which way. Funny thing since a lot of this was, of course, about meditation practice, which is all about focusing the mind!

I had to laugh at my...more
Sara Jo Easton
I am a Goodreads First Reads winner of this book.

This is a great book for anyone interested in philosophy who wants a book as entertaining as it is intellectually challenging. Each new concept is backed up with anecdotes from the Dalai Lama's life, told "half-jokingly" in a way that doesn't fly over your head. I finished the book several hours ago, and I'm still thinking about everything His Holiness said about our common humanity and the place ethics has in society. Thank you for the great rea...more
Feb 29, 2012 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: library
This book on a secular approach to ethics by the Dalai Lama caught my eye when I was browsing the new books section of my library. Acknowledging the shortcomings of religious approaches and the problems caused by the inherent conflicts of religion, the Dalai Lama turns to humanist principles and calls for a secular approach to ethics. In the later chapters, he addresses the overlap between secular humanism and Buddhist principles - a topic that has long been of interest to me.

This is a very good...more
This book is part of a larger movement by progressive religious leaders - one that makes the argument for ethics outside of the constructs of religious teachings. I really appreciated the time the Dalai Lama spent defining "secular", a term which, all too often, has a negative connotation. His reasoning and practical approach to implementation was intriguing. While Humanist principles assert ethics (and morality) without religion, I'm left to wonder how accepting the larger religious community w...more
Kate Lawrence
I agree with the Dalai Lama that only if the world's people succeed in finding common ground Beyond Religion is there a chance of working together for any kind of a sane future. I wondered what he was going to suggest, and found myself reading with interest. He describes compassion--the foundation of secular ethics--in detail, what it is and isn't (e.g. it isn't meekness). He shows why the practice of compassion and restraint is necessary for a sustainable environment, stable governments, as wel...more
Jud Barry
All my life I have been told by "religious" people that religion is necessary for morality. I have never believed this, mostly because my own parents were every bit as moral as they were secular.

Also, growing up I absorbed the "enlightened," civic faith of the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A. in the ability of a body of citizens to govern itself without being ruled by a set of religious doctrines. All that was needed was the right framework (laws) and a willingness to work for the common good of a...more
Ethics-based approach to the idea of improving the condition of humanity by improving yourself first. Wrapped in pretty much a Buddhist philosophy without the religious aspects. Promotes moral/ethical principles that are mostly common to the teachings of the major religions, even if not their practice. Full of very sensible ideas, though nothing revolutionary.

The writing style was simplistic, as if aimed at 12-year-olds, I thought. Whereas the content is more adult focused. So I'm not sure who i...more
To some, this may be a surprising book and proposition coming from the modern 'father' of an ancient faith.* Not that Buddhism (in my experience and practice) must be faith-driven. Still, many may be surprised to hear a religious leader advocate and articulate universal morality and ethics free from faith-based or doctrinal foundations.

The book is short, practical, well-reasoned, easy to follow, and includes positive prescriptions that can be carried out in the everyday lives of even busy secula...more
I always enjoy listening to the Dalai Lama and his calming words. After the disappointment of realizing Martin Sheen was narrating the book I decided to read instead. He talks about the need for a system of ethics that doesn't depend on religion but instead depends on people's shared humanity and compassion, where people of many religions and none all live together and increasingly must work together to solve global problems. I appreciated how he spoke his own Buddhist religion and says even tho...more
Since I recently started a whole slew of religion courses for my degree program, I thought that this book would be a good supplement to read. After all, the Dalai Lama is a very well spoken man and I've read other things by him that I've liked. This book follows right along with those other writings in that I was hypnotized by this book.

I wasn't even 10-20 pages into the book before it became very clear that this book is destined to become a recommended book for various religion and philosophy c...more
May 07, 2012 George rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Beyond Religion is another one of those special books that are written with the idea in mind to make the world a better place. Its author? A man who has dedicated his life toward travelling the world and spreading his messages of peace, tranquillity, and the capability of humanity.

It is, in one way of thinking, the culmination of the Dalai Lama's understanding of modern society and culture. It is also the product of his life as a spiritual leader. This book contains one man's empathy and compass...more
This is my first reading of the Dalai Lama. I always knew he is an amazing person, but reading his own words, written with knowledge, humor and humility, only impresses his wisdom on me more. The Dalai Lama's subject is to help his readers find a way to develop compassion from a secular position. He sees that agnostics or atheists are not off the hook for having positive human qualities of compassion, loving kindness, forgiveness and a healthy sense of justice. The Lama really seems to respect a...more
Dustin Voliva
The Dalai Lama knows inspiration and spirituality. He has both in spades. His claim that ethics needs to be defined outside of religion is something I believe is most certainly true.

However, Dalai Lama XIV would have us mostly believe it based on faith alone. He quotes friends and scientists, sometimes naming them, sometimes not,but never does he back these quotes with anything more. As he writes, the Dalai Lama is not a scientist and this is mostly a humble plea to begin encouraging humanity t...more
Despite his deep faith, the Dalai Lama is convinced that the striving toward moral ethics and inner values cannot be met solely through religion in the secular world of today. With so many belief systems, a religion-based approach to ethics will never be universal, thus the need for a secular ethics. Secularism - respect for all faiths and no faith - and religion are not mutually exclusive. A good example of this would be Gandhi. deeply religious and all-embracing.
I picked up this book primaril...more
David Gross
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama (his official title) asserts that religion, by itself, may not be adequate to answer all of the questions the 7 billion people on earth may have. He further asserts that we can live ethical lives without religion - amazing considering who he is. Of course, much of the book is peppered with Buddhist beliefs and practices which are, in turn, seen in other world religions. Living ethically - whether informed by religion or not - means seeking happiness, being contented,...more
Confession: this was my first-ever audiobook, so I had to contend with a pesky audio-learning curve. Martin Sheen delivers the content in a way that conjures the author's essence through inflection and emphasis. I liked the way I could hear both voices at once. His holiness created this curriculum veritas for those of us who, having awakened within a global society, sometimes stumble over the fresh new ground toward oneness. Resolved: I will start over from the beginning, listening in 45 minute...more
A simple, self-evident (to me, at least), yet potentially revolutionary and offensive idea: religion is not necessary for a moral life or a moral world. The abolition of religion is not necessary for a moral life or a moral world. Instead, we can start with the most basic things we as humans have in common: we all have basically the same biological and emotional needs. This can be the basis for compassion, which can be the basis for ethics...
I listened to this book as I walked to work. It really put me in a great mood, ready to face the trials of the day. It is very clearly written and truly inspiring. I liked the exercises at the end. I will be putting them into practice as I sit in the mornings. I just wish that more people in the world would come to understand our commonalities. It would go a long way to bringing peace to our communities and the planet.
Alisha Hanson-Glatzel
Maybe I'm just not evolved spiritually enough for books like this. I'd be reading, he would say something that brought back a memory and soon I have no idea what he is talking about because I haven't been paying attention at all. I had the same problem with A New Earth.

I found the last section about meditation really helpful and inspirational. I might have to read this again when I become enlightened some day.
Kristy Miller
The world is changing. The main traditional religions are declining as fundamentalists of all religions become more vocal, it is more obvious than ever that in no area of the world will one faith suffice for everyone, and agnosticism and atheism are on the rise. But this does not mean, as many fear, that the world is no longer a moral one. One can be a secularist and still have a moral center and live ethically. In this book the Dalai Lama strives to create a secular framework of ethics for all...more
Dawn Woodward
I loved this book. I like all of the Dalai Lama's books, but this one was particularly good. Concrete, concise and (as always) very logical. Should be required reading for the human race. There are so many situations where religion is interjected that cause FAR more harm than good, esp. in our diverse, global society. That a religious leader would acknowledge this is remarkable.
Megan Penner
This is only the second book I've read by the Dalai Lama but I have loved both. It was a great reminder that I need to start meditating again. Personal growth is something we can all strive for and I will definitely continue trying to incorporate these techniques into my life. Regardless of religion (or non-religion) his advice and views are universal and relatable.
May 09, 2013 Tim added it
Good advice for everyone, marred slightly for the secular humanist by the fact that this leader of one of the world's religions seems to be under the impression that he has single-handedly invented secular humanism. That said, if all the world read and, importantly, heeded every single word in this book, the world would be a much better place for it.
This non-sectarian philosophy applies to every human being in the world. It is a very short read and very easy to comprehend. EVERYONE should read this book for their own self-interest and the mutual interest of everyone and every living thing on our planet.
The material itself was thought provoking, but Martin Sheen is not ideal as a reader. If I hear him say "uman" instead of "human" one more time I may scream! I kept having My Cousin Vinny flashbacks. Not good.

Get this one as a book instead.
Patricia Joynton

Not the best book of the Dalai. There was a redundancy about it that made it...a bit maybe boring. Then again, if we want to learn something, how many times do professionals say we need to hear something before we learn it?
So far this is good basic stuff. Seems like the Dalai Lama is a bit on the rambly side to me. Good definition of theist and non- theist religions.
Rosi Guastella
" If...we view human nature as predominantly oriented toward kindness and the desire for a peaceful life, then we can consider ethics an entirely natural and rational means for pursuing our innate potential. On this understanding, ethics consist less of rules to be obeyed than of principals for inner self-regulation to promote those aspects of our nature which we recognize as conducive to our own well-being and that of others."

The Dalai Lama is really not interested in converting you to Buddhism...more
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GoodReads DSM: Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World 2 3 Mar 14, 2012 04:55PM  
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Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Lhamo Döndrub), the 14th Dalai Lama, is a practicing member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the world's most famous Buddhist monk, and the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

Tenzin Gyatso was the fifth of sixteen children born to a farming family. He was proclaimed the...more
More about Dalai Lama XIV...
The Art of Happiness An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama

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“For a considerable portion of humanity today, it is possible and indeed likely that one's neighbor, one's colleague, or one's employer will have a different mother tongue, eat different food, and follow a different religion than oneself. It is a matter of great urgency, therefore, that we find ways to cooperate with one another in a spirit of mutual acceptance and respect.

In such a world, I feel, it is vital for us to find genuinely sustainable and universal approach to ethics, inner values, and personal integrity-an approach that can transcend religious, cultural, and racial differences and appeal to people at a sustainable, universal approach is what I call the project of secular ethics.

All religions, therefore, to some extent, ground the cultivation of inner values and ethical awareness in some kind of metaphysical (that is, not empirically demonstrable) understanding of the world and of life after death. And just as the doctrine of divine judgment underlies ethical teachings in many theistic religions, so too does the doctrine of karma and future lives in non-theistic religions.

As I see it, spirituality has two dimensions. The first dimension, that of basic spiritual well-being-by which I mean inner mental and emotional strength and balance-does not depend on religion but comes from our innate human nature as beings with a natural disposition toward compassion, kindness, and caring for others. The second dimension is what may be considered religion-based spirituality, which is acquired from our upbringing and culture and is tied to particular beliefs and practices. The difference between the two is something like the difference between water and tea.

On this understanding, ethics consists less of rules to be obeyed than of principles for inner self-regulation to promote those aspects of our nature which we recognize as conducive to our own well-being and that of others.

It is by moving beyond narrow self-interest that we find meaning, purpose, and satisfaction in life.”
“We all appreciate in others the inner qualities of kindness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and generosity, and in the same way we are all averse to displays of greed, malice, hatred, and bigotry.

The first beneficiaries of such a strengthening our inner values will, no doubt, be ourselves. Our inner lives are something we ignore at our own peril, and many of the greatest problems we face in today's world are the result of such neglect.

When a system is sound, its effectiveness depends on the way it is used.

So long as people give priority to material values, then injustice, corruption, inequity, intolerance, and greed-all the outward manifestations of neglect of inner values-will persist.”
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