The ever-prolific Dalai Lama has given readers not one but two books this winter focusing on kindness and spiritual growth. In “The Wisdom of Compassion,” he tells stories from his own life and career in which he learned challenging but valuable lessons about empathy and generosity. “From Here to Enlightenment” presents a comprehensive account of the Buddhist path to spiritual freedom, based on a six-day session he led at Lehigh University in 2008 (the longest he has ever given to a Western audience). The new works arrive at an ideal time, as the holiday atmosphere of charity and togetherness carries us into a new year full of opportunities for personal change. We look at the Dalai Lama’s most monumental works, which have inspired readers for decades and continue to expand his loyal following.
The early years
One of his earliest published works is an autobiography of his younger years, “My Land and My People,” a time when he grew into his role as the future leader of a people.
Finding peace amidst conflict
Following the Nobel Prize, the poignant title of the Dalai Lama’s next autobiography said much about what the conflict between Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Communism has meant to this man of peace. “Freedom in Exile” recounts his country’s tribulations at the hands of the “Great Leap Forward” (estimates range from 200,000 to a million deaths, and 6,000 destroyed monasteries, during that time), and yet the Dalai Lama maintains his sense of conciliation and hope.
A ‘handbook for living’
Despite the painful history the Dalai Lama has witnessed, much of our love for the man comes from how happy he seems to be. And he has written extensively on the subject–his “handbook for living,” “The Art of Happiness,” continues to set the bar for books on joy, more than a decade after it was published.
Showing the way
He also has much to say on how to achieve enlightenment–not surprising for a man who has spend a lifetime praying, studying, and deepening his own consciousness. “How to Practice” is His Holiness’s guide to overcoming the negative feelings we all face, be it jealousy, anger, disappointment or insecurity.
Wisdom for tough times
Sadly, the Dalai Lama’s history has been punctuated with much loss–but, as ever, he takes these experiences and turns them into an opportunity to teach. His “Advice on Dying” starts with the Tibetan saying that “everyone dies, but no one is dead,” and draws upon a lifetime of reading and thinking to create a way to view death as another road to enlightenment.
A look back
Which brings us back to the beginning. In 2010 he published his latest memoir, “My Spiritual Journey,” a look back at a life filled with prayer, action, love, compassion and that extraordinary smile, beloved by so many people around the world.
–By Rosetta Young and Daniel Lefferts