This book was purchased in a book warehouse sale some time ago and I only got to read it recently.
The book is an autobiography of the Dalai Lama. He gives us an insight of his childhood, his mother and how he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama when he was just three. We learn briefly about his life in the monastery. It was interesting to read his experience dealing with the Chinese invasion in 1950. He was only 16 years old. His disappointment that the outside world was not interested in Tibet then and no pressure was put on China. Although he could see the progress Communism has made in China, he did not agree with Karl Marx’s vision. ‘His (Marx) vision of the world was based on confrontation, It is on account of this primary motivation that the entire communist movement has failed. If the motivating principle had been compassion and altruism, things would have turned out very differently.‘ Chairman Mao’s view of religion was frightening to him. Mao said to him, ‘Religion is poison. It has two great defects: it undermines the race (since monks and nuns are celibate), and secondly it retards the progress of the country.’
I am a Tibet sympathizer, having heard from somewhere that Tibet has now become another Chinese city. The struggle for Tibet to regain independence seemed futile, yet he says that if he were to develop feelings of vindictiveness, anger or hatred towards the Chinese, he would be the loser, because he would ‘lose my own peace of mind, my sleep, and my appetite. My bitterness would not affect the Chinese in the least.’
It’s interesting how he describes a typical day in his life, why he was advised against returning to Tibet and life in exile, admitting that he could be the last Dalai Lama. He gives his thoughts about world affairs freely, environment, death penalty (oppose) and birth control (support), media, etc.
I find his teaching of Buddhism easy and simple to follow. The openness of Buddhism towards other religion is best explained by what he says, ‘For some people, Buddhism may simply not be an answer. Different religions meet different people’s needs. I do not try to convert people to Buddhism. What I try to explore is how we Buddhists can make a contribution to human society in accordance with our ideas and values.’
To learn the way to inner peace, the last chapter gives short clips on how we should deal with the various emotions. There is even an attempt to explain the creation of universe and the Big Bang Theory.
Generally, I found this book to be an easy read and explain clearly the concept of Buddhism that laymen like me can understand and appreciates.