Monday, March 16, 2009

An Open Heart

An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life
© 2001 the XIV Dalai Lama
191 pages

Because I enjoyed The Art of Happiness so much, I decided to continue reading the Dalai Lama's thoughts. An Open Heart is considerably more short than The Art of Happiness, but its singular topic is much more narrow. The book repeated a lot of what was in The Art of Happiness, but this book is different in that it focuses more on ideas to meditate on to cultivate feelings of compassion for everyone. He combines the material from The Art of Happiness and these meditative techniques with explainations of Budhhist concepts like karma, no-self, and reincarnation and of how they apply to what he is teaching. I had a fairly simplistic understanding of karma (what goes around comes around), but the idea he espouses is more severe. If you steal, he says, not only will you suffer the consequences in this world, but when you are reborn you will be reborn lower and will have to fight a greater urge to deal while being stolen from. I imagine if you steal again you'll be reborn lower and will have a still greater urge to steal, which to me sounds like a negative feedback loop. I still don't see how the idea of "no soul" works with reincarnation. What exactly is being "reincarnated"?

It was an interesting read, but inferior to The Art of Happiness from my view.

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