Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How To Be Compassionate - The Dalai Lama

How To Be Compassionate
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins
Rider Books, 2011

Review by Ramona Wadi

"Violence always produces misery, so it is fundamentally counterproductive." The Dalai Lama

Another book of altruistic philosophy from the Dalai Lama - a gentle reminder for humanity to divest itself of hatred. The book is also an exercise in patience and developing a character which recognises and accepts the concept of interdependence.

Through gentle words, readers are enticed to embrace a manner of thinking that seems remote yet, upon reflection, it is evident that humanity has confused independence and its consequences. The negative emotions assailing a person at a crucial moment enslaves the mind to the point of distorting existence and consciousness. Consequently, anger diminishes rationality and fails to distinguish between the act that causes anger and the person through whom the action has been carried out.

The Dalai Lama advocates 'cultivating insight' in order for people to distinguish between the illusion created by extreme emotions and reality. Insight remains a necessity if people are to contribute effectively to the pursuit of happiness for humanity. Again, insight provides people with the qualities necessary to build a compassionate society.

Reminding society of two important concepts - impermanence and interdependence, the Dalai Lama asserts that embracing these two realities shifts the burdens of anger and hostility. The realisation that every situation in life is as temporary as life itself allows an individual to perceive existence and choice of action as an integral part of humanity. Embracing the philosophy of interdependence becomes both an obligation and a right - inherent to acknowledging our responsibility of performing kindness and compassion beyond the confines of race, religion, and any other category which has served to disperse the unity of society.

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