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Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  2,163 ratings  ·  232 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
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2011)
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Trevor Price
It's important to clarify that by secular the Dalai Lama doesn't mean anti-religion or excluding religion, but rather cross-religion. He proposes an ethical framework that can be used as a common value-based language regardless of one's religious views, yet that allows any given practitioner of religion to plug his/her own religious/moral core into the slots.

Compassion, unsurprisingly, is the central value from which all other values flow, and His Holiness lays out a persuasive case that such an
A breath of fresh air.
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
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
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
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
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
Alaa Bit Hashim

‘The longer I live, and the more I reflect on humanity’s problems and achievements, the more convinced I become that we have to find a way of thinking beyond religion altogether…’

A very inspiring book that would definitely spark some infinite light of love and compassion towards humanity into the heart of the reader.

The religious leader, political head with no country, Nobel laureate, and Buddhist monk practicing non-violence and on an eternal mission for peace; provides an insight into a 21s
Despite his faith in the tenants of Buddhism, the Dalai Lama believes religion alone doesn't hold all of life's answers. For instance, he says that while he appreciates people who pray for him when he's sick, he appreciates good doctors and modern science even more. The trouble is that modernity has brought with it fractured societies, intolerance, and mindless business. Because of this, he says, "it is vital for us to find a genuinely sustainable and universal approach to ethics, inner values, ...more
"Happiness comes not from wealth but from setting limits on our desires and living within those limits with satisfaction...The only effective antidote to greed is moderation and contentment...In contrast, when it comes to acquiring mental riches, the potential is limitless. Here, where there is no natural limit, it is appropriate not to be contented with what you have, but to constantly strive for more. Unfortunately, most of us do the exact opposite: We are never quite satisfied with what we ha ...more
Hannah Givens
A wonderfully refreshing book in which a religious person actually acknowledges that not everyone is or ever will be part of his religion. He's concerned about making things better, not about correcting your theology or how you're using your ladyparts. He just really does care and want to help people. Everyone take note: He does all this without downplaying or badmouthing his own religion! I also love that he wants to have a faith that's compatible with the world as it really is, and he's managi ...more
I was hoping that this book would contain more specifics than it actually did. I was specifically interested in whether or not the Dalai Lama would have any interesting anti-death penalty ideas outside of the expected "thou shalt not kill" area, but I didn't find much there. Of course he is anti death penalty, but he is sparse on suggestions for alternatives, only going so far to say that all people are capable of change, and that we should guide them compassionately. Personally, I find explanat ...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...
This book was very fluid in presenting and explaining the ethics that the Dalai Lama believes will help people realize happiness and ultimately a more compassionate world. The book is divided into two parts, the first is dedicated to explaining the importance of the ethics he presents, while the second elaborates on how one can develop these qualities for her or himself.

I personally found this book to be wonderful at accurately explaining and bringing alive concepts that many of us are familiar
"Actively promoting the positive inner qualities of the human heart that arise from our core disposition toward compassion, and learning to combat our more destructive propensities, will be appreciated by all. And the first beneficiaries of such a strengthening of 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."

"How people treat their fellow human be
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.
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GoodReads DSM: Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World 2 4 Mar 14, 2012 08:55AM  
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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 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.”
“Even from the most rigorous scientific perspective, unselfishness and concern for others are not only in our own interests but also, in a sense, innate to out biological nature.

In Indian usage, "secular", far from implying antagonism toward religion or toward people of faith, actually implies a profound respect for and tolerance toward all religions.

"honor another's religion, for doing so strengthens both one's own and that of the other.”
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