This was a moving story of the Dalai Lama and the people he represents, told from his perspective.
“My Spiritual Journey” has inspired me to be more compassionate to the people around me. I left the book agreeing with the Dalai Lama when he says, "Compassion, what I sometimes also call human affection, is the determining factor of our life."
But compassion can't be a passive part of our lives. The Dalai Lama says that "Real compassion is not just an emotional response; it is a firm, thought-out commitment. Therefore, an authentic attitude of compassion does not change, even faced with another person’s negative behavior."
His approach for this is simple: "I try to treat every person I meet like an old friend, and that gives me a real sensation of happiness."
For the leader of a culture that was cut off from the outside world until China invaded their territory in 1950, the Dalai Lama has a global view of his people's plight.
He says, "When we look at the Earth from space, we don’t see any borders, just a little blue planet. One planet.... The interdependence taught in Buddhism does not now seem like an ideological abstraction, but like a proven fact, illustrated by this image of the Earth."
I also loved the way the Dalai Lama worked the Buddhist theories of interconnectedness into foreign and environmental policy. He says, "...our only home is this little planet. If we want to protect it, each one of us has to experience universal altruism."
He also calls each of us to start solving the issues closest to us. "In the present circumstances, no one should assume that someone else will solve his problems."
Another part of this book that struck me was his approach to religion. I have spent the first 18 years of my life as a devout Catholic, the next 5 years as a questioning Catholic, and the last 5 years as an atheist. I spent all of that time angry about religion. When I was Catholic, I argued about its merits. When I became an atheist I was angry because I felt I had been lied to about religion.
The Dalai Lama's views on religion seem to be much more utilitarian. He says, "I have always felt that we should have different religious traditions because human beings possess so many different mental dispositions: one religion simply cannot satisfy the needs of such a variety of people." I find this to be a freeing way to view religion and one I plan on thinking about.
The Dalai Lama makes a compelling request of each of us to have compassion for all of humanity. The only way that we can meet the challenges facing humanity, particularly climate change, is together. I recommend this book to everyone. It will help you find a better perspective on your life as well as educate you on the plight of the Tibetan people.