Beyond Religion: Ethics For A Whole World
- Ebury Press
- Publication Date:
- 05 January 2012
- Ethics & Moral Philosophy
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Without a doubt the best book written by the Dalai Lama, so far. I really didn't want to finish Beyond Religion and now that I have, I feel the need to read it again. I recognise that I have a tremendous lack of tolerance for religion and those who profess to be devoutly anything. This book came into my life at a very good time and I highly recommend it. I can not imagine anyone not benefiting from what His Holiness has to share. His acceptance is inspiring.
This book, Beyond Religion, speaks from the Eastern values and words causing me to re-think the words; secular to include those who have faith; and mental to include the heart; and so many other definitions. I am grateful for the way the author defines the words he uses the first time he does so, in a way that causes me to think, and not to feel condescended to. I had not considered the ideal of compassion being the foundation for my own happiness, although it made me happy to be able to help others. This book gave me the tools to help me create in myself the kind of person I want to be.
His Holiness uses this book, Beyond Religion, to further three basic premises. First, one does not have to be religious to be ethical. Second, one does not have to be religious in order to practice meditation. Third, meditation fosters the clarity and self-discipline that are necessary in order to live an ethical life. He goes on to argue that meditation should be included as part of formal ethical training in public schools because modern school systems are no longer tied to religious institutions, and so do not inculcate their students into a set of religious norms. Even if they did no single religion is a good fit for all 7 billion people alive today. The result is that, absent formal ethical training, people are adopting consumer capitalism as their default ethical system. This has dire implications for the health of the global ecology and for our ability to relate to one another compassionately. The first half of the book is spent making the case for the existence of and need for secular ethics. The second half is an introduction to meditation practice and an explanation of its benefits for the individual and for society. Both are written simply and warmly, which is amazing considering the complexity of the topic and the delicacy with which the subject must be handled. Ultimately, I found this book to be a very engaging paradox. Here is a man whose public identity is inseparable with a non-theistic religion making the case to both atheists and theists that for the good of the species mindfulness meditation should be included in public education. Skeptical atheists will likely question the value of listening to a person whose formal title is "His Holiness" and dogmatic theists will likely object to the notion of an ethical system outside of revelation. If they can get past these preconceptions and actually pick up the book they will find it to be a very unassuming, cogent and charming attempt at addressing how to deal with the breathtaking greed that seems so characteristic of our age. No matter what your preferred cosmology, I strongly encourage you to engage with this book. Even if your conclusions wind up differing from the author's you'll be richer for the encounter.
This is a very nice, brief collection from His Holiness that is best summed up by paraphrasing from the book itself: People cannot live without the dignity we all deserve as humans. Though technically a furtherance of his seminal work Ethics for a New Millennium, it is a stand alone, crystal-clear guidebook for embracing the post-religious world.This is a succinct, gentle reminder that simple empathy and compassion go a long way towards healing all that ails the world. The book tunes out the white-noise of our hectic lives. It cuts through confusion. The lesson is easy. Despite the ever-turning wheel of material/technological/political change, simple guidelines for simply improving life are easy to follow.Of course the sticking to them is the hard part. But this book is full of reminders about how to stay on the path. One of my favorite (and I think most important) prompts was his call to always educate future generations. It is our responsibility and should be our chief priority. This book is a good start in teaching "ethics for a whole world."
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