Ocean of Wisdom, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet is revered as a bodhisattva- a reincarnation of the Buddha- by six million followers around the world. He describes himself as a simple smiling monk. Between these extremes of divinity and being human, however, lies a personality fascinating in its own right: a theologian who can debate the intricacies of Buddhism, a philosopher whose thinking influences people around the world, a political and spiritual leader of the displaced Tibetan people, a best-selling author, a son and brother, and simply a friend to many. He is also universally recognized as the best hope for peace and amity in today's troubled world.
In Understanding the Dalai Lama, Rajiv Mehrotra brings together a range of contributors who offer insights into different facets of this remarkable individual. Pico lyer draws a portrait of a disarming man with an infectious laugh, Robert Thurman gives us a glimpse of the Dalai Lama's spiritual development, and Matthleu Ricard describes a day in the life of His Holiness. The Dalai Lama's deep curiosity, keen insight and high level of scientific sophistication are revealed by Daniel Goleman, while Thupten Jinpa recounts the Dalai Lama's passion for Tibet's thousand year old intellectual tradition of logic and philosophical debates. The book also includes a syllable by syllable translation of the Dalai Lama's full name by Jeffrey Hopkins, a poem by U.R.Ananthamurthy and an extended interview with His Holiness by Rajiv Mehrotra.
'Understanding the Dalai Lama certainly helps one to understand him as much as one can through the limited space of a book'- The Sentinel.
'Don't be nervous,' I said. He's the most human person you could ever hope to meet.'She gave me a shocked glance. He's a living Buddha!' she protested.
'Well, isn't it the same things' I asked her.
The Foundation for Universal Responsibility is honoured and delighted to present understanding the Dalai Lama. To Tibetans, the Dalai Lama is known as Yeshi Norbu, the precious Wish-Fulfilling Gem, the reincarnation, Avalokiteshwara, of the Buddha aspect of compassion. To others, he is known by his Mongol title-the Dalai Lama or Ocean of Wisdom. To the more initiated, he is quite simply His Holiness. His own description is Tenzin Gyatso, a simple Buddhist monk.
So what describes him best? The contributions in this book provide some answers to this question. This compilation of personal narratives as well as scholarly interactions brings out facets of an extraordinary life. Each contribution represents a personal response to the charisma of a supremely integrated personality, and together they reveal that he remains, in spite of all his achievements and all the accolades, self-effacing and intensely human. We can never completely know and understand the many dimensions of a human being, less so when that human form is a manifestation of the Buddha-the epitome of human striving. In attempting to answer the impossible, the book thus remains incomplete and inadequate. Yet, in a decision perhaps born of the vanity and blessings of being led by a great master, the Foundation felt it owed it to history and to the millions around the world whose lives the Dalai Lama has touched, more often through his ideas than his physical person, that we offer these contemporary insights into his personality and work by those who have met him and in most cases are well acquainted with him.
The Dalai Lama remains one of the most accessible public figures and has come to represent a singular if idealistic response to the individual and collective needs of our times. He evokes a range of views, analyses and descriptions, so similar and yet diverse, as he impacts the world in varied ways and dimensions. As with all truly great and inspiring leaders, his life is his message and philosophy. His Holiness represents a progressive and logical continuum of a mind that has evolved through lifetimes and the institution of the Dalai Lama, of whom he is the fourteenth reincarnaation.
As one of His Holiness's personal, if most unworthy, disciples, I feel twice blessed and privileged to have helped bring together this collection of essays, to be able to write these words and in a small way help make available this collection of contemporary insights into a living Buddha. I dedicate any merit gained to the benefit of all sentient beings and acknowledge total responsibility for any errors in the book.
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