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The Meaning of Life: Buddhist Perspectives on Cause and Effect
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The Meaning of Life: Buddhist Perspectives on Cause and Effect

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  177 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Using the traditional Buddhist allegorical image of the Wheel of Life and the teaching of the twelve links of dependent origination, the Dalai Lama deftly illustrates how our existence, though fleeting and often full of woes, brims with the potential for peace and happiness. We can realize that potential by cultivating a wise appreciation of the interdependency of actions ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 15th 2000 by Wisdom Publications (first published 1993)
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Jun 21, 2008 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book while running, as I have taken to listening to books while on a trail, in my Zen zone. So some of my difficulty following it may have been related to that. However, in my opinion, this is one of the most complicated books the Dalai Lama has written. Many parts of it make an, "aha!", with me, however, it was still difficult to understand and I found myself rewinding a few times.

However, it resonates with Jungian philosophy, the concept of the collective unconscious as wel
Sep 29, 2012 Nate rated it it was ok
This book describes the 12 stages of dependent-arising through life as depicted by the complex image that appears on the back of the book (unfortunately I forget the name). The Dalai Lama also describes how each of these stages resolve not only through life but how tantra, yoga, and the process of meditation/Buddhist practice will affect your journey in cyclic existence. While explaining cyclic existence and how it applies to [your] life could be read as "The Meaning of Life", those looking for ...more
Oct 16, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, religion
This book is a little dense for a reader who is unfamiliar with the basic tenets of buddhism. It describes the 12 stages of dependent arising through life and the buddhist tenets of reincarnation. For non-buddhist readers, it does not give much advice on the meaning of life - except seeking to become compassionate to all living beings. There are some issues with the translation of this book, which may make the subject matter seem denser than it really is.
Feb 24, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Regardless of your religious affiliation, the Dalai Lama's books are always insightful and beautifully written. The text is a tad more complex than some of his other writings. For some people, this book may be a little too advanced in the teachings of Buddhism. However, for those who are deeply curious about having a deeper understanding of Buddhist teachings, this is the book for you. The Dalai Lama always teaches a way to help people find more meaning and purpose in their life.
Frank Cardenas
An honest account of Dalai Lama's beliefs and teachings. As the title goes, we might finally find a sense to our very nature, maybe are we here for a purpose? and in his answers you can find a possibility that makes more sense to what I have been taught so far.
Mar 08, 2017 Brandon rated it really liked it
A great "next level" book for those who practice and have already gained a moderate understand and the Way.

The deeper analysis of cause and effect in relation to cyclic existence and karma helps provide a better understanding of how your actions influence and have been influenced by previous actions. In this way, one who practices may find a themselves more effective in their attempts to understand what it means to practice in everyday life.

On the downside, the final two chapters focusing on enl
Robin Friedman
Nov 21, 2016 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

As with the other books of the Dalai Lama I have read, this book combines difficult and obscure teachings with the simplicity of the everyday. The book consists of the text of a lecture series the Dalai Lama gave in London in 1984, before he received the Nobel Prize. The title of the book together with its subtitle "Buddhist perspectives on cause and effect" give some idea of its breadth.
The first two lectures in the book, together with Professor Jeffery Hopkins's introduction discuss the fundam
Feb 28, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has read the Dhammapada or other beginning books on Buddhism.
Very good, nice explanations of some of the truths and other Buddhist teaching. My fave part is: "Because sentient beings are of many and various dispositions and interests, Buddha set forth many different levels of practice. Recognizing this is helpful not only in gaining a proper perspective on Buddhist teachings but also in developing respect from the depths of the heart for the different types of religious systems that are present in this world, since they are all beneficial to those who bel ...more
Jan 24, 2016 Lizzie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Buddhists
Shelves: matters-of-mind
I, too, was expecting another book than the one I got and had to recalibrate my expectations based on the book I actually bought vs. the book I thought I was buying. This is an insightful, semi-digestible (though not nearly as accessible as the Dalai Lama's other writings and transcribed lectures). As a spectator of Buddhism, but not a participant, I appreciated the detail of the proposed process of reincarnation and it is sprinkled with Dalai Lama-sized truth bombs throughout. I tend to think t ...more
Jan 04, 2013 Emna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read, full of wisdom and important teaching about the aim that we need to define for our lives..I always find some sense of serenity when reading the books from Dalai Lama indeed! I will definitely read the rest of his writings. The major points of Buddhism referred to in this book are the 3 main evils for the mind : ignorance, attachment and aversion. In the opposite, the perfections of the mind are six points and are: generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom ...more
While rather esoteric at times and clearly meant to be a deep dive rather than an introduction (NOT for people new to Buddhist philosophy), I found this to be a deeply fascinating exploration of the Tibetan Buddhist world view. At times it skewed to belief systems that are specifically Tibetan (I think), but at other times it also included really excellent summaries of general Buddhist teachings on a philosophical level with a bit of humor thrown in here and there as well. It made me wish I'd be ...more
Kevin Summers
Apr 01, 2016 Kevin Summers rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
Most of this book is esoteric, so I couldn’t highly recommend it to non-Buddhists. Regardless, the book has several nuggets of wisdom.

Sample quote:
“Question: I find it difficult to comprehend all the different levels of practice. What is a simple, basic practice that I could bear in mind? Answer: At best, if you are able to do so, help others. If you are not able to do so, at least do not harm others. This is the main practice."
If I had half an ounce more smarts I'd be able to rate this book much higher. As it is I was in way over my head, so I just plowed through and tried to glean as much from it as I could. Which was a surprising amount. The Dalai is a funny guy and he has the ability to force A-HA! moments on even the newest of us. Definitely a book I want to re-read when my Buddhist knowledge base is a little more extensive.
Martina Röll
I read the Q+A-parts and only skimmed the rest of the book. The questions touch many topics, not just the 12 links of dependent-arising, which is the subject of the lectures transcribed in this book. I found the Dalai Lama's answers to the questions interesting, wise and practical. Will probably come back to the book at a later time.
Aug 12, 2013 --- marked it as paused  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
För tung att läsa, jag har inte kommit tillräckligt långt i min utveckling för att kunna tillgodogöra mig det som skrivs. Utöver detta så visade det sig i den här boken att jag har lite svårt för buddhism, det är för mycket konstiga saker runtomkring, kanske kan det iofs ändå vara givande, men jag tror att det är smartast att börja med att läsa mer mindfulness/spirituella böcker.
Jan 12, 2014 Sean rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly difficult, metaphysical, and unapproachable. I'd expected something a bit more applicable to daily life, written for the common man/woman, rather than for students of esoteric aspects of Buddhism.
Aug 17, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading this one for its great explanation of the links of cyclical existence, and how dependent origination is the same as impermanence. Plus HH is a pretty funny guy.
Feb 20, 2016 Andy rated it it was ok
It was dense, for me - just difficult getting through it. The tone was not the as same as his other works, which is why it took me a couple months to finish.
Jun 15, 2015 Riobhcah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism, dalai-lama
Another phenomenal book by HH The Dalai Lama. He explains how the twelve links of dependent arising may be transcended in order to find true peace.
Alisha Bembridge
Jul 11, 2016 Alisha Bembridge rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audiobook most nights while I couldn't sleep. It inspired me and was very easy to comprehend. I'm going to read a lot more books by the Dahlia Lama!
Lis Quines
Lis Quines rated it it was amazing
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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
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