Let me iterate that this is not a religious book, but it does contain spiritual topics. Someone from any religious (or non-religious) background can read this book and gain something. The author (Dr. Culter) specifically gears the writing at a non-Buddhist, Western audience. He compares and contrasts the teachings and thoughts of the Dalai Lama with research and teachings in Western science.
It is an understatement to say that this book moved me. This book has changed my perspective on how I should lead my life and interact with people around me. While there are so many lessons to take from this book, the key mantras that I took were:
- Happiness is not something that "happens" to you. It is a skill that you can hone. It is something that you must work towards -- everyday.
- Compassion is the key to happiness. The most famous quote from the book is "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
Also -- the next time you see the Dalai Lama in the news -- notice how happy he is. Smiling. Laughing. Genuinely enjoying the company of both world leaders and laypeople. This is a man who lost his home, lost his country, and has lost most of his family, and yet this man is happy most of the time.
Genuinely, honestly, and throughout his spirit -- happy. He does that through compassion for others, appreciation of suffering, and training of his mind.
Photo courtesy of dalailama.com.