Jun 14, 10
Read in June, 2010
This book breaks down Buddhist practices for the average person just trying to get by in the world. You don't need to travel to Tibet, practice yoga several hours per day, meditate constantly, speak Sanskrit or read sacred Indian texts to get something out of this. It offers suggestions for starting where you are, explains theories in relatively easy to understand methods and includes some simple exercises that anyone can do, such as wishing well each person you pass in a day or using "the four gates" to assist in decision making (asking yourself 1. Is it truthful? 2. Is it helpful? 3. Is it kind? 4. What is my motivation and intention?).
One thing I especially liked about this book is that it answers questions about and recognizes the complexities of real world scenarios. For example, we may think of generosity (something that is written about a great deal in this book) as a willingness to give things away at our own expense or always say yes to someone in need. Not so, according to Lama Surya Das. There is a place for tough love and being generous does not mean screwing ourselves or enabling a loved one.
Although this book is clearly Buddhist, it really does offer ways of thinking about life and our place in the world that can be useful to anyone from any religion or background. Practicing compassion, understanding our ego's role in the dumb things we do, walking around with the intent to make the world a better place, recognize connections between all living beings, letting go of greed and assessing what will truly bring us happiness is never a bad thing for anyone.
I highlighted and wrote all over my copy, because there are several suggestions that can be used by all sorts of people I'll meet in therapy practice that will simply provide a healthier way of assessing their world, work and relationship options and ways of thinking about themselves.