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81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking eloquence, infinite wisdom
In this book the Dalai Lama has given an answer to all of us who have questioned our motivation in life or ever said, "yep, it's a messed up world but what can you do?" Going out of his way to avoid promoting Buddhism or even looking through Buddhist perspective, he confronts even the most sensitive of issues (genetic science, GM food ect.) with compassion, wisdom and an...
Published on 17 Jan. 2001 by Andrew W. Martyr-icke

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't really know what to make of this book
An enjoyable enough book, I was edging towards a 4 because it is written with the best of intentions but something was missing that i can't quite put my finger on
Published on 23 Feb. 2013 by Taekwon


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81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking eloquence, infinite wisdom, 17 Jan. 2001
By 
Andrew W. Martyr-icke "andy_icke" (Evesham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In this book the Dalai Lama has given an answer to all of us who have questioned our motivation in life or ever said, "yep, it's a messed up world but what can you do?" Going out of his way to avoid promoting Buddhism or even looking through Buddhist perspective, he confronts even the most sensitive of issues (genetic science, GM food ect.) with compassion, wisdom and an understanding of what it is to be human, where-ever your from, that is without compare outside Shakespeare. I am not one to rave about a book in this manner without reason, but this is one of those books that upon reading it you feel the need to buy it for everyone you know, in the hope that they too may put their copy down feeling happier, wiser, humble yet full of optimism for the future. I urge you to read this book so strongly I cannot find words to express it.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical wisdom for a spiritual revolution!, 6 April 2002
By A Customer
Although I found this a bit slow to get going, with the opening couple of chapters surely rather obvious to most of us in the Western world these days, this is an excellent book. The Dalai Lama carefully puts forward universal principles that can inspire all humanity in the direction of fundamental personal happiness.
Some Buddhist terms are used (e.g. "nying-je" = the supreme emotion of love and compassion, "chi-sem" = universal consciousness), but the author is far more interested in embracing ALL religious and non-religious perspectives. "Whether or not a person is a religious believer does not matter much. Far more important is that they be a good human being". His approach is practical too. There are countless everyday examples of possible moral and ethical choices, with clear observations and comments on the consequences. An awareness of the fundamental interconnectedness of ourselves and those around us is a major theme.
Through the application of moral principles to a very broad range of human experiences, the Dalai Lama inspires a practical, intelligent, spiritual awareness and sense of responsibility in the reader. The approach is balanced, rational and compassionate. Great words to be absorbed and acted upon.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book for Everyone, Religious or Not!, 13 April 2003
This book was an excellent read!!! I had expected a book steeped in religious belief but it is highly readable for everyone from all walks of life and religious backgrounds (or not). The Dalai Lama teaches lessons in just being the type of person we all like to be around, you know the type, they make you feel loved and safe, they are trustworthy and gentle. The poem on the last page sums it up beautifully (you'll have to buy it to read it).
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It really IS so good, 8 Nov. 2003
Although it seems redundant to add another voice to this chorus of praise I cannot resist doing it: this book really IS so good. It does not promote sensational new ideas for universal ethics, it just shows with unprecedented clarity that the basic principles we need are quite simple and make common sense, and it IS possible to overcome negative habits and learn virtues. The author as a person is strongly present in the text and makes it credible. He lives what he preaches, and he sounds like his smile: vital, joyful and with a heartwarming sense of humour, never moralistic, never boring. You don't have to be holy to enjoy this book, and you don't have to be a Buddhist. I agree with the other reviewers: Read it!!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One for all, 3 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Ancient Wisdom, Modern World: Ethics for the New Millennium (Paperback)
I have always found it hard to believe in 'A God'. Reading this book talked to me of things we all need in this life, and yet are hard to find reference to without having to climb inside a Bible. Reading this Man's words, I have the feeling I am listening to an old friend, and understanding what's there, although some deep thinking is required, is not hard...I gained from this experience greatly.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING BOOK, 25 Jan. 2005
I am not religious at all but I do believe in being in harmony with the world and each other. This book makes so much sence and is very inspiring. I would recommend it to everyone it makes you think and maybe if we can all take just something away from reading this book then the world will be a better place.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very sincere and thought-provoking book about you., 10 May 2000
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This review is from: Ancient Wisdom, Modern World: Ethics for the New Millennium (Paperback)
It takes a great deal of wisdom to write a book about the problems of modern life and culture. It usually ends in most readers shrugging the author off as being too idealistic, or not seeing the importance or detail of cultural status. You may feel the same about this book, but I doubt it. The Dalai Lama writes with a sincerity and warmth that you think you only ever hear about, and he leaves you thinking that maybe there is 'something' in what he is saying. I'm not going to tell you to read this book, but I am going to urge you to. You might have heard it all before, but I doubt you've heard it with such truth and honesty.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well presented solutions for the improvement of society., 15 Aug. 2001
The Dalai Lama clearly puts forward some solutions to the problems we face in the modern society of the "developed world". This book is aimed at people from any walk of life and I am sure that anyone who reads it will take something special from it. He tackles complex issues such as nuclear stockpiling and genetic foods with understanding and clarity. He demonstrates that by changing our viewpoint we can live both happier and more rewarding lives. Each and every point made is backed up by solid logic which shows his reasoning and enables understanding on behalf of the reader. Definately one to recommend to others.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Neuroscience could prove it right, 27 April 2013
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This review is from: Ancient Wisdom, Modern World: Ethics for the New Millennium (Paperback)
Though religion is declared to be valuable but not necessary, the whole approach is entirely molded in the metaphysics of the religion that is behind the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism. I do not pretend to go into a full analysis of this religion here, but I would like to make a few remarks on the main concepts of the book.

The first and surprising central concept is that of "suffering" which is never quoted in Pali, hence "dukkha," but only in this English translation which is the worst possible translation. "Dukkha" refers to the cycle of "birth-life-decay-death-rebirth." Thus it refers to death as soon as birth, even death in birth when reducing it to "suffering". If you reduce it to "suffering" you do not understand the dialectics of Buddhism. "Dukkha" is the opposite of "sukha." "Dukkha" is the fact that any event of life has a beginning, a period of existence (growth and decay) and an end to eventually be reborn like a plant from a seed. This is connected to dissatisfaction, the fact that the phenomenon we are dealing with does not exist before its birth and will not exist after its death and its birth necessarily leads to its death. In other words life is a fatal, lethal, deadly business. But there is sukha on the other hand. Before decaying any phenomenon has to grow and develop. Before dying any phenomenon has to be born and grow and then only decay. Reducing "dukkha" to "suffering" erases the joys and the happiness of life, or it makes them purely artificial since they require a voluntary, hence non-natural, hence not arising from the natural circumstances in and around the concerned human subject but from his ethical decision to follow a certain path that cannot be natural since it is superimposed onto the natural human being. Love, compassion and empathy are not natural in man but the result of ethical choices guided by some ideological choices.

This centering of the whole vision on suffering, what's more, shifts the center of interest from the phenomenon itself to the individual experiencing this phenomenon, as if the phenomenon had maybe not no existence but at least no value outside the vision this individual may develop. This is very dangerous. The phenomenon exists and occurs outside any individual who may be observing or using it. In fact the phenomenon does not even need to be observed or used by any individual to exist and develop. The Dalai Lama would probably agree but some formulations are inadequate.

This reduction of "dukkha" to "suffering" has far-reaching consequences.

It does not understand "dependent origination" properly. Once again this translation of "paticcasamuppada" is reductive. We are dealing here with a vision deeply embedded in Pali (and before Pali in Sanskrit and hence in probably most if not all Indo-Aryan languages). It is what is called the "preterit participle." This preterit participle builds "nominalized" clauses attached to main verbal clauses and they express the fact that a set of circumstantial elements, actions or events are fulfilled and that this fulfillment enables another element, action or event to develop, to arise. This construction does not exist in Indo-European languages. That is a main difference between the two cousin linguistic families. This does not mean there is a cause and then an effect. It is not a connection based on causality but only on circumstantial fulfillment. Of course we can consider rain and sunshine are the causes of the growth of plants but that is not what happens in the real world. When rain and sunshine have been or are fulfilled up to a certain level then plants may grow, and at times they don't because another circumstance is not fulfilled like the proper temperature. It is not causation but it is a set of circumstantial fulfilled elements and when this fulfillment is reached then another element develops, arises. That sounds logical because behind the universe there is no philosophical thinking mind that dictates in a way or another the fate of the cosmos. Evolution is produced by haphazard mutations (that might though be influenced by the circumstances in which they occur) selected within a constraining circumstantial environment.

The second consequence is that the vision of the real natural world, of which man is an animal member, is entirely negative and then positive elements can only come from virtue, from a cultivated human dimension of this human animal. But this human dimension of the human animal is not really specified in its/his/her fundamental Buddhist dimension, the mind which is in fact two Pali concepts, "mana" and "citta," the first one being the more or less abstract capability and the second the various states of mind a mind can develop in various circumstances. I insist on these two concepts because it clearly states that the mind is not something that exists ready made in man but something that is a double process: a process in the confrontation of man to his/her environment and a process in its being a constructed dimension of the brain, and I insist on brain here. The Dalai Lama insists on the voluntary and systematic constructive attitude and action of any human individual to build empathy and compassion, but he misses the point at the level of the mind and the brain. He does not see the fundamental existence of this mind as a construct of the brain confronted to the world through the senses.

Compassion and empathy are the result of the mirror neurons in the neo-cortex. These mirror neurons enable an individual to imitate what another individual does in front of him/her, but also to share the emotions of the other person and his/her emotions with the other person. This neuronal fact is the very basis of compassion, empathy and love. This is typically human. But it is a physiological fact supporting a mental and behavioral phenomenon.

In the same way the Dalai Lama misses the fact that our brain is both animal and human. Animal in what we call the old brain only based on instinct and first of all on the survival instinct that states the individual has to survive at all cost in front of any danger, and the best way to survive is preemptive attack. But the neo-cortex enables a human being to develop a mind and that mind is the reflection and the construction of the brain. It is hierarchical, it works in stages: from smaller features to larger items, and from discrimination to identification and then later from simple sensorial capture to recognition, when the item has already been identified. This gives the mind the capacity to conceptualize and to build some abstract thinking and thus control the behavior of the individual this mind inhabits after having been constructed (and that construction is never finished).by the confrontation of the individual (and his/her brain) with the circumstantial, existential and experiential situational environment through the six sensorial organs of this individual, the mind being the sixth sensorial apparatus of the human individual.

Hence we come to the conclusion that the initial reduction of "dukkha" to "suffering" leads to the impossibility to integrate the most advanced research in brain neuroscience which makes the very ethical principles the result of the very particular way human beings, as a species, can survive in their world by producing a conceptualized vision of this world in order to both survive AND DEVELOP, the second dimension being most of the time forgotten by the adepts of the survival instinct like Ronald Lafayette Hubbard or ethics. Then what the Dalai Lama states as a voluntary action would become a voluntary ethical choice among possible responses to the environment, responses and choice both arising from the mind of any particular individual. And that's how Homo Sapiens when becoming the human species we are today, invented all kinds of conceptualized mental - and practical - systems - and weapons-tools-artifacts - to understand and control his/her environment: language, communication, arts, religion, philosophy, science and that process will never be finished since there will always be something more to understand.

Then education becomes essential, not to preach - or graft if not brainwash - ethics into the student's behavior, but to develop ethics in the ever mostly-self-constructing mind of any individual confronted to any circumstantial, existential and experiential situational environment to which this individual has to respond.

In other words the Dalai Lama has it entirely right but on premises that are not correct because they are not in phase with modern science, and yet it would be very easy to build the correspondence between this philosophy and modern science, knowing that there cannot be two identical minds in this world, that some minds have developed positive values and some others negative values, and that at any step in life there is always a mental choice to make, hence an ethical choice to make. The motivations of these choices can be of any type, sort or kind from the most negative to the most positive, from pure hatred to absolute love.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read spirit lifting and encouraging., 19 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Ancient Wisdom, Modern World: Ethics for the New Millennium (Paperback)
What jumps out from this book is the sincerity it is written with. The Dalai Lama writes with a feeling and honesty that is not always evident in modern text. It looks at a modern world from a different perspective. It is an inspirational read from an inspirational man.I would encourage anyone to read this book from a man whose wisdom crosses all boundaries.
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