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Amazon Reviews


The Dalai Lama

by Gayl Woityra

Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, world-renowned as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, titular leader of the Tibetan people, winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, has become so well-known and admired world wide that his appearances often draw larger crowds than those at rock concerts. Something very special about His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, inspires those who see him in person or on television.

Therefore this month we examine two books about the Dalai Lama and his thoughts. The first work is an insightful, intimate look into the life and mind of the Dalai Lama: The Wisdom of Forgiveness: Intimate Conversations and Journeys by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan (Riverhead Books, Penguin Group, 2004). This work, based on conversations that took place over many years, acknowledges the Dalai Lama as co-author with the actual writer, Victor Chan. This book is highly readable, deeply interesting and inspiring and exceptional in its insights into the Dalai Lama's thinking processes and spiritual practices.

The second work is a more challenging book to read: The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Morgan Road Books, Doubleday, 2005). This work, a new one by the Dalai Lama himself, explores what he has learned from 40 years of study with some of the world's greatest and most famous scientific minds. The work reflects both his storehouse of knowledge as well as his lifetime of meditative, spiritual and philosophical studies. In this work the Dalai Lama draws parallels between "contemplative and scientific examinations of reality."

I would recommend that readers absorb the Victor Chan work first. This book is an excellent introduction to the Dalai Lama's thinking processes and will make the second book easier to understand. The Wisdom of Forgiveness is truly a unique treasure. For three decades Victor Chan traveled around the world with the Dalai Lama and was given unprecedented access to both the private and public moments of the Tibetan leader.

Victor Chan begins his book by noting that the Dalai Lama "has become an international icon." In New York City in 2004, 100,000 people attended his talk in Central Park, some peeking "through dense foliage from beyond the tree line." When Chan asked the Dalai Lama why he was so popular, the Dalai Lama seriously mulled over the question and replied, "In my heart I never blame, never think bad things against anyone... I believe others more important than me. Maybe people like me for my good heart."

This underlying theme of "good heart" and of a compassionate approach to all beings underscores the whole book. As we read the dialogues between Victor Chan and the Dalai Lama, we gain clear insight into how the Dalai Lama achieves his peaceful, centered calm and how he maintains and practices compassion.

It is truly helpful to learn the simple steps he takes so consistently. For example, the Tibetan teacher explains how he deals with difficult situations, tragic news or emotional issues. We find as we learn more throughout the book that the answer comes from much practice and discipline involving both meditation and other Buddhist exercises. But the basic idea is simple. The Dalai Lama describes it as "something like the ocean. On the surface, waves come and go, but underneath always remain calm." Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa spoke of the Dalai Lama's "popularity" as well. Why do so many people revere the Dalai Lama? "Why? Because he is good... I have met very few other persons as holy as His Holiness. I have met very, very few who have his serenity, his deep pool of serenity." Clearly, most readers will find Chan's book a wonderful source of insight into this goodness and serenity and how the Dalai Lama acquires these characteristics and how we may work to develop them as well.

This book is extremely easy to read. Each chapter has a setting somewhere in the world and then Chan reveals various insights he gathers from his experiences and conversations with the Dalai Lama. Considering the Tibetan people, for example, Chan says the Dalai Lama "and his countrymen practice a very simple religion they practice being kind to one another." Clearly, this is a simple idea and one that we could all practice in our daily lives.

The book's primary theme, of course, is "forgiveness." In 1989 the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Chan notes, "At the heart of the Dalai Lama's peace philosophy is his ability to cultivate forgiveness." In many chapters Chan offers various explanations from the Dalai Lama regarding how and why he practices forgiveness. Ultimately we learn that not only is it good for others, it is good for oneself. The Dalai Lama says, "If I develop bad feelings toward those who make me suffer, this will only destroy my own peace of mind. But if I forgive, my mind becomes calm."

Another part of being peaceful and promoting peace involves tempering emotions. "When human emotions come out of control," the Dalai Lama says, "then the best part of the brain in which we make judgments cannot function properly." Acknowledging the reality that conflicts and differences always exist in the world and in human relations, the Dalai Lama advises us to "use the differences in a positive way," and "through dialogue, (consider) others' interests and then sharing one's own, there is a way to solve the problems."

In one fascinating discussion, the Dalai Lama describes his "give and take" meditative practice, one designed to "reduce hatred and other destructive emotions... (and to) develop their opposite compassion and kindness." He makes a "visualization" in which "I send positive emotions like happiness, affection to others." Then in "another visualization, I visualize receiving their sufferings, their negative emotions." He does this every day. He breathes in the world's "poisons" and breathes out the "good things" compassion, forgiveness. He says this meditation is "very effective." Clearly the meditator needs to be highly disciplined and practiced to do such meditations. Perhaps average folks could consider a less strenuous practice: visualizing the world's troubles; then imaging them disappearing and being replaced with kindness, love and peace.

A key philosophy of the Dalai Lama's is what science might term a "unified field theory." He sees all humans and himself as well as the same and as "interdependent." "The universe is looked upon as an enormous web woven of innumerable strands of thread." Victor Chan emphasizes that "Interdependence conditions both the way he acts and the way he looks at life." It is a fundamental principle of Buddhism and of ecology as well. According to the Dalai Lama, the whole idea of interdependence helps one see the world differently. Through an "understanding of interconnected reality... you come to realize that if good things happen to others, you will also benefit; if not immediately, then eventually... If they suffer, you eventually suffer." Therefore, practicing compassion and forgiveness benefits not only others, but oneself as well.

The Wisdom of Forgiveness is so rich with insights and practices that could benefit every reader that it is impossible to touch upon more than just a few. One rather challenging Buddhist concept is that of "emptiness," an idea often misinterpreted in the West. In several chapters Chan includes lucid discussions by the Dalai Lama that clarify the concept for Western readers. For example, "Emptiness does not mean nothing exists. Things exist, but the way they exist we cannot find. Therefore empty." Once again, we learn that "emptiness" really means interdependency. Nothing, according to Buddhism, exists independently. "It comes into being only through a complex web of relationships." Consider anything, from persons to a chair or a tea cup. Their very existence is the result of multiple factors, acts, designs, developments and processes. None originated all by itself. Therefore it is "empty of intrinsic, inherent existence" another phrase for "interdependent."

As a result of his spiritual philosophy, centered in "the fundamental interconnectedness between people and people and between people and things,.. (the Dalai Lama's) interest and 'your' interest are inextricably connected." Chan notes "that is why he has devoted his entire life to the well-being of others."

Clearly this delightful book about the Dalai Lama provides insight into the very highest living model for human behavior, a model we would all do well to emulate. This small volume will remain a treasure on my bookshelf for years to come and I hope it will serve you as well.

A chapter in the Victor Chan volume forms an excellent introduction to the Dalai Lama's book, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. In both works we learn of the Dalai Lama's lifelong inquisitiveness and his interest in learning new things. In his position as a world leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, he has, over many years, met most of the famed scientists, teachers, philosophers and religious leaders of the world.

Over the years the Dalai Lama developed a particular interest in modern science. He noticed various parallels between Buddhist perspectives and scientific practices. He hoped "scientists could open up new directions of exploration by learning to look at reality from a Buddhist perspective (and) he thought Buddhists could take home useful insights about modern science." This dialogue could "help expand human knowledge." The idea here is the basis for the Dalai Lama's new book.

As the Dalai Lama explains in his "Prologue," "This book is not an attempt to unite science and spirituality,.. but an effort to examine two important human disciplines for the purpose of developing a more holistic and integrated way of understanding the world around us." Both have the same goal, he says: "to seek the truth." Moreover, he would like to see the objectivity of science add an altruistic and compassionate element to its practice. "By the same token, spirituality must be tempered by the insights and discoveries of science."

For readers who may have struggled with current books (and movies like What the Bleep do we Know) to even minimally comprehend the often paradoxical concepts of quantum physics, it is encouraging, even amusing, to read about the Dalai Lama's own struggle with the theories, even when his instructors were the top scientists in their fields. Because he had to gain his comprehension of these ideas step by step, his descriptions and discussions help readers gain understanding as well. It is clear, moreover, that the Dalai Lama's education over his lifetime is exceptional in its range and depth.

When readers get to the Dalai Lama's third chapter, "Emptiness, Relativity and Quantum Physics," and later ones as well, they will be happy that they read the Victor Chan book first, as everything discussed in that book will make this volume that much easier to comprehend. I am not going to attempt to discuss details from this work since they tend to be complex and interconnected. Nevertheless, this book is extremely thoughtful, informative and helpful to readers who would like to better understand how the sciences and spiritually inter-relate.

Just to give readers an idea of the scope of this book by the Dalai Lama, let's look at a few chapter headings. Chapter 4 discusses the "Big Bang and the Buddhist Beginning Universe." Chapter 5 discusses "Evolution, Karma and the World of Sentience." Chapters 6, 7 and 8 deal with the question, science and spectrum of consciousness. Chapter 9 treats "Ethics and the New Genetics." The Dalai Lama concludes his book with a discussion of "Science, Spirituality and Humanity." The book also has a useful index of topics.

We'll conclude with some words from the Dalai Lama. "My plea is that we bring our spirituality, the full richness and simple wholesomeness of our basic human values, to bear upon the course of science and the direction of technology in human society. In essence, science and spirituality, though differing in their approaches, share the same end, which is the betterment of humanity... Today, science and spirituality have the potential to be closer than ever and to embark upon a collaborative endeavor that has far-reaching potential to help humanity meet the challenges before us. We are all in this together."

Gayl Woityra, a retired high school English and Humanities teacher, now resides in Arizona where she continues to pursue her eclectic metaphysical studies in consciousness, the Ageless Wisdom, astrology, flower essences, music, color and alternative medicine.

A Simple Buddhist Monk
February 13, 2006
***** (5 stars)
Reviewer: Jason Nelson "musshin"
(Kansas City, MO USA)

Victor Chan's book about the Dalai Lama is simple but enlightening. The book itself contains selections from numerous interviews Chan conducted with the Dalai Lama. Chan also writes down numerous anecdotes about what he has seen from observing the Dalai Lama in different settings.

Some of the people who are familiar with the Dalai Lama will recognize many of the teachings contained in this book. There are strong passages concerning the importance of compassion, wisdom, and forgiveness. The salient point is made that if we can't forgive others we come to suffer from internalized feelings of anger. I was also really impressed with Chan's characterization of the Dalai Lama's formula for happiness. This formula is; emptiness + compassion = happiness. How true. In different spots emptiness is explained as a concept that means interdependence. In other words, everything (trees, soil, water, clouds etc.) is interdependent in some way. No man is an island. This concept allows us to realize and look at things from a perspective that helps us understand other people. If we can do this perhaps we can overcome any feelings of anger in the future. Just common-sensical advice that's easier said than done. The other area emphasized as of the utmost importance is compassion. When we have compassion for others we are what the Dalai Lama terms "selfish Buddhists". But selfish in a good way. By being compassionate towards others we get back gifts that truly make us feel happy. Rewards that are hard to put into words but that people understand on a deeper level. We karmically accumulate so much merit from these works that we can't help but be happier.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was that it presented practical advice but it wasn't done in a Hallmark fashion. There wasn't a cheesy feel to it, and the author seemed very humble and authentic. He wrote about his own personal feelings towards Tibet and his respect for the Dalai Lama with a truthfulness seldom displayed by writers looking to push an agenda. As an example of this truthfulness was one section where he revealed the Dalai Lama had an air rifle. Only to scare away hawks that prey on small birds, though.

Lastly, people will enjoy this book because of the lovable personality of the Dalai Lama that comes to the fore. Obviously he's more intellectual than most people realize and he's well versed in ancient Tibetan teachings. However, his greatest asset may be that he helps people feel good about themselves. He has a jovial personality that shakes with laughter from head to toe at a good joke. It could be argued that no teachings are as great as those moments when a true Buddha can with utter honesty, lack of pretension, and total sincerity make people smile and forget about their problems. He wants you to realize he's just a simple monk dedicated to serving others. As you read this book you'll be reminded of how the law of emptiness (interdependence) has found its way to you and how the Dalai Lama has succeeded once again in giving his greatest teaching.

Compelling read
September 23, 2004
***** (5 stars)
Reviewer: Sanders

Now and then I pick up a Self help or How-to book that promises to be useful for my life. Most of them end up on the shelf, bookmarked about halfway through. The Wisdom of Forgiveness is different. It is a compelling read, packed with stories and anecdotes. It pulls you in. That's what I was looking for: a book that is full of insights, a book that is useful and at the same time readable and entertaining. A book that presents us with wisdom without being preachy and condescending.

It helps that Victor Chan doesn't take himself too seriously. He admits to struggle with some of the more difficult Buddhist concepts. He confesses to being in agony while sitting cross-legged. He doesn't don a suit or a robe (only a Moroccan cape); he doesn't tell us how to live our lives. Instead he gives us an example. He shows us a truly wise person not only through his words, but also in his actions.

Through Chan's eyes, we see the Dalai Lama as a guy who likes to pull people's beards, who likes to giggle and eat cookies when he's not supposed to. At the same time, there are significant insights I can take away from this book. I learned that a wider perspective helps me cope with my own problems. That forgiveness and compassion may well be beneficial for my health. And that I can be selfish, as long as I am wisely so. The Wisdom of Forgiveness is a book I highly recommend.

A Slow Reveal
June 12, 2006
***** (5 stars)
Reviewer: Janet Riehl
(Lake County, California)

Like a flower opening with time-release photography, Victor Chan slowly reveals the character, daily routines, spiritual honesty and generosity of His Holiness the Dali Lama as he travels in Asia and Europe for over three decades (from 1972 upon their first meeting to 2004 when the book was published).

The beauty of Chan's book is a meld of de-coding of high spiritual teachings such as impermanence--often translated in the West (somewhat misleadingly) as "emptiness"--and a sense that we are a pet mouse in Chan's breast pocket, listening to his heartbeat as it is altered by searching conversations and interviews with His Holiness.

A press conference in Prauge, The Dali Lama's inner shrine in Dharamsala in India (the seat of the Tibetan government in exile), experimental subject in the West, leader of conferences dwelving into the interweaving of meditation and science, walking the Peace Line through the war zone in Ireland, surviving a serious illness on the road, laughing backstage with Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Nobel Peace Laureate presentation day--these are a few of the places and roles presented in the vignettes offered up in these intimate conversations and journeys.

Victor Chan is guileless and does not posture to impress. This self-acceptance without worrying too much how he will look serves "The Wisdom of Forgiveness" well. We the readers can thus identify with Chan in all his humanity as he depicts the holiness of a great man shining through a human face and body.

Chan's writing is lucid, filled with telling detail and description that makes the pages fly by. Unlike other reviewers here, I had no expectations, and thus was merely delighted by "The Wisdom of Forgiveness"--with my views on important teachings such as interdepence clarified by their simple exposition and modeling on these pages.

--Janet Grace Riehl, author "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary"

A Different View of His Holiness
September 28, 2005
**** (4 stars)
Reviewer: abunaiyo
(Southern California)

Imagine for a moment that you have a good friend who just happens to be in the Dalai Lama's inner circle of friends. Now imagine that you have the opportunity to spend time with this friend, hearing about his travels and conversations with His Holiness, relishing every minute detail.

This is the feel that I got while reading Victor Chan's book. He presents a very personal account of his time spent with the Dalai Lama, unlike other books that tend to be more academic or intellectual. As a result, the reader is able to see the Dalai Lama in a different light. It's like viewing Mount Fuji from an angle different from the picture postcard; still the same beautiful mountain but with new angles and lines.

Some of Chan's descriptions border on the unbelievable. Did His Holiness really say that about the gun? And did he really say that about wanting to exact revenge on the Chinese soldier (if a certain situation arose)? And did His Holiness really say that to Oprah? These passages give "The Wisdom of Forgiveness" its uniqueness and color.

Some readers may criticize Chan's personal descriptions, especially his focus on his Chinese ancestry and how ironic that he, of all people, has become a close friend of His Holiness. I was not bothered by it; it seemed consistent with and relevant to his very personal account.

For those seeking general knowledge of the Dalai Lama, read "Freedom in Exile". To learn his world view, check out "Ethics For the New Millenium". But for a personal, sometimes surprising, and enjoyable account of the Dalai Lama, consider reading this book.

Getting close to the Dalai Lama
August 6, 2004
***** (5 stars)
Reviewer: J. Massey
(Vancouver, Canada)

There are so many books out featuring the Dalai Lama's face on the cover. But after reading even a few lines, it becomes apparent that this one is different. Like the holy man himself, this book has a warm heart. It's a surprisingly easy and wholly engaging read, a rich story rather than dense teachings weighted down by abstruse Buddhist terminology. Through the eyes of Victor Chan, friend and confidant of His Holiness, we are invited to become intimately acquainted with the Dalai Lama. We follow the leader of the Tibetan people as he travels extensively, encountering world leaders, visionaries and other highly appointed and influential individuals. We join Chan as the proverbial fly on the wall, gaining privileged access into the public and private world of one of the greatest men of our times. For those who are Buddhists and familiar with the teachings of the Dalai Lama, this book brings them just that much closer to gaining spiritual insight and a fuller understanding of a man they love. For the rest of us, it introduces a person whose wisdom is directly relevant to our lives, a man who speaks a universal language and offers hope for a world plagued with poverty, war and injustice. Chan deftly weaves each chapter with vivid anecdotes and lively dialogue. As a storyteller, he is first rate. He shows us how the Dalai Lama interacts and relates with others. We observe the monk's immense capacity for joy, his sense of playfulness and mirth, his humility and honesty. At the same time, we gain an inkling of the depth of his humanity; we learn of his personal spiritual milestones; we read accounts and are inspired by his unwavering commitment to the tenets of selflessness, peace, compassion, and forgiveness.

What this book does not do is offer a four-step (or other) guide to achieving personal contentment, or enlightenment. This is not a simple how-to guide for those seeking spiritual awakening.

But it is a book that makes us think deeply about how we are affected by our actions and attitudes towards others. Through interviews with scientists and researchers, Chan presents provocative data. By telling the tale of people who have survived tragedy loss, we derive first-hand knowledge about the power of forgiveness and compassion. This book allows us to observe how the Dalai Lama has internalized his spiritual beliefs and in doing so, it is hard to remain unmoved. The Wisdom of Forgiveness is a book I will read and reread. I will also not hesitate to pass it along to friends and family, and anyone else who has been in the position of seeking or granting forgiveness.

Encounters with the Dalai Lama
June 2, 2005
**** (4 stars)
Reviewer: Robin Friedman
(Washington, D.C.)

There is a Hasidic story that tells how some devoted students followed their Rebbe (a Hasidic teacher and spiritual master) as closely as they could during the course of a day -- not only to classes and meals, but at home, shopping trips, in the bedroom, in the bathroom and the like. One of the students was asked what purpose this attention served during the times the Rebbe was not engaged in teaching. The Hasid replied that "I don't follow the Rebbe just to hear him teach. I follow him to learn how he ties his shoe-laces".

I was reminded of this story in reading Victor Chan's account of his meetings with H.H. the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Mr. Chan wants to impress upon the reader the force of associating with a holy person. There is much to be learned from the contact with such a person, with observing his demeanor, small talk, daily routines and attitudes towards others. Spiritual growth and inspiration can be imparted from these contacts, just as with formal teachings.

Mr. Chan first met the Dalai Lama in 1972 in a roundabout, virtually accidental way following his graduation from college. He subsequently became interested in Buddhism and Tibet, writing a travel guidebook to the latter, and gaining the confidence and friendship of the Dalai Lama. Mr. Chan's book, "The Wisdom of Forgiveness" consists of nineteen short chapters in which he accompanies the Dalai Lama on various journeys, interviews him repeatedly and at length, and shares in his day-to-day activities.

Thus, the book shifts from place-to-place as Mr Chan joins the Dalai Lama on trips to Ireland, Norway, on pilgrimages to Buddhist holy sites in India, and in the Dalai Lama's headquarters in Dharamsala, India. We meet many members of the Dalai Lama's entourage, including interpreters, advisors, and bodyguards, as well as a variety of other people famous, such as Desomond Tutu and Oprah Winfrey, and obscure.

The book gives a good picture of the Dalai Lama in teaching and in character. In his discussions with Mr. Chan, he discusses at length the value of a gracious and forgiving heart particularly as it involves in the Dalai Lama's own case the Chinese communists who overran Tibet in the 1950s and destroyed its holy places. We also receive teachings on emptiness and on controlling one's mind.

The book shows admirably the Dalai Lama's sometimes unpredictable sense of humor, his ability to put people at ease, the unpretentious manner in which he wears his learning and his practice, his serenity, and his devotion. We learn a great deal of the Dalai Lama in the closing chapters of the book when we see him respond to a serious, potentially fatal illness. There are also good moments in the final chapters of the book when the Dalai Lama turns the tables on Mr. Chan and asks him questions on what Buddhism has meant to him and on how his contact with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people has influenced his life.

The book is a bit short, and Mr Chan seems to wander at times. I would have liked to hear more of the Dalai Lama. Thus, I think some of the books in which the Dalai Lama speaks and teaches for himself are a better way of getting to know him than is this account. Still, this book is worth reading.

The title of the book, and much of its early chapters, concentrate on the importance of being able to forgive. A famous verse in the "Dhammapada", a collection of short verses which is part of the Scripture of all forms of Buddhism speaks eloquently of the importance of forgiveness and of not bearing grudges. It reads:

He abused me, he stuck me, he overpowerered me
he robbed me. Those who harbour such thoughts
do not still their hatred. (Dmammapada, v.3)

The Dalai Lama's character and his life, as reflected in this book, offer living testimony to the power of forgiveness.

Great View of a Great Person
March 27, 2006
***** (5 stars)
Reviewer: T. Brazil
(Seattle, WA)

This book gives an amazing view into the life of his holiness the Dalai Lama. There are questions posed that relate to everyone's life and relate to all of our daily lives. I recommend this book for anyone that wants to understand why forgiveness is so important to our health.

Inspiring Role Model
December 23, 2004
**** (4 stars)
Reviewer: S. Thompson
(Anaheim Hills)

I too am a loving fan of the Dalai Lama and have read 3 other books. I was particularly interested in reading this book as I ended a loveless friendship after 27 years and wanted to quelch the flames of resentment. The book is well written and a wonderful look at the wise heart of the Dalai Lama. I loved reading it! That said, this is not a self-help book. It reviews compassion as the path to forgiveness, but it doesn't tell you how -- that's up to the reader to find out through their own journey. It is an inspiring book and a heart-warming read.

Informative, clear, compelling
October 11, 2004
***** (5 stars)
Reviewer: Barbara Gilday
(Bellingham, WA)

It is a very fine piece of insight into an exceptional human being and his beliefs as he embodies them. I am deeply grateful to Victor for the time and care that he has taken in presenting this portrait of the Dalai Lama and working so fastidiously to illuminate the teachings through his thorough and painstaking questioning and observations.

The teachings about emptiness finally began to make sense, as did the expansion of the concept of interconnectedness, which to me, while I have embraced it conceptually for many years, has dropped to a much deeper level, as I considered it from the point of view of disappearing boundaries and a physical sense of connectedness. It had never occured to me to go beyond the conceptual, and I am certain that this will have a profound effect on my life and practice. I have done a lot of study on forgiveness, myself, but learned more - the wise/selfish idea, put into words a concept I have been teaching.

Thanks for a great read and valuable insight.

September 25, 2004
*** (3 stars)
Reviewer: L. Jody Kuchar
(Carmel, IN, US)

Victor Chan's collaboration with the Dalai Lama suceeds on two levels.

It is a guide for what the Dalai Lama's message to the world is. It also is an intimate look at what it takes to be His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and who that individual is.

Lucky Victor Chan to spend such large amounts of time with such a gentle and peaceful soul.

The Dalai Lama's message is simple; perhaps not always easy to follow, but it is something that any person can aspire to, not just "The Ocean of Wisdom".

To be the Dalai Lama is the observations this book suceeds in revealing. It shows a quite human, enlightened, learned and exceptionally open minded man.

The Dalai Lama's existence in our world is a blessing in itself and Victor Chan demonstrates such with his anecdotes and insights.

A delightful read about the Dalai Lama
September 10, 2004
**** (4 stars)
Reviewer: peter wing

There are, I am aware, a number of books written with and about the Dalai Lama, a figure revered around the world for his humble and gentle life and works. He is known to us as a non-confrontational man leading his people-in-exile. He is a politician in a difficult situation because of the Chinese takeover of Tibet. He is a greatly respected Buddhist teacher. Buddhism is a philosophy that does not exclude participation in other religions, but also a faith of its own found satisfying by many, one that encourages a simple approach to life. Perhaps this is why the Dalai Lama was very warmly welcomed by large audiences wherever he visited throughout his recent visit to Canada: his infectious humour and simplicity of being appealing to many of us.

Victor Chan's book written with the Dalai Lama was written based on many years of experience and presents to us conversations between two friends, yet also between a master and the respectful disciple and observer. Chan has been our eyes and ears in a family and a society that most of us will never visit and has had discussions with his friend that he brings to us in this book in a comfortable flow. Not only does he report to us these discussions, but also describes with clarity the circumstances in which the Dalai Lama lives.

This is a book that can be read over a few days -- it is not dry, not preachy, and I had difficulty setting it aside. Chan's opinions do not cloud the lens of his writing, but bring a warmth to his subject. After watching some of the movies and TV documentaries that have documented the flight of the Dalai Lama, I was delighted to find in these pages a sense of the Dalai Lama as he is today, an honest and unpretentious human being, a serious yet humble teacher, and a very likeable man.

A good read, strongly recommended.

The Wisdom of Forgiveness by His Holiness — The Dalai Lama
August 29, 2004
***** (5 stars)
Reviewer: Joseph S. Maresca
(Bronxville, New York)

This work is an excellent rendition for religious theorists, historians, cultural enthusiasts and a wide constituency of scholars in academia. The contents provide simple lessons on universal principles of reconciliation and the conditions precedent. Forgiveness is the most important act prior to any meaningful reconciliation; such as, the formal process continuing in South Africa. The death of apartheid has brought a renewed period of formal discussion of the past in order to bring about the conditions necessary for a formal healing through reconciliation of the strategic constituencies.

The Dalai Lama is known for his eternal patience, calm mind and sophisticated-yet simple- approach toward problem solving. The work describes the mechanics of prayer-chanting and meditation in the LOTUS position. The author discusses a visit to Northern Ireland, as well as the need to forgive the leaders of Iraq for the many transgressions against humankind both internal and external to Iraq. The work is an important contribution to the modern theological debate. It is well worth the price for interested readers throughout the world.

the dalai lama revealed
August 16, 2004
***** (5 stars)
Reviewer: Carey Linde

In an age of icons the image of the Dalai Lama covers the world like few other living people. There is, of course, a very good reason for this: what he says and writes about is profound in its simplicity in our increasingly complicated world. But who is he, this man like any other brought up under the most extraordinary of circumstances? How does he view himself? Victor Chan has done the world a service by "hanging around" all these past years with this not so simple monk to gather this extremely personal material found nowhere else. Chan's own background makes him uniqly qualified for his task. (The development of the obvious bond between the Tibetan monk and his Chinese pupil is a touching subtext.) The book is really all about the spiritual leader of Tibet, from both his own and Chan's perspective. It is very good for understanding how the Dalai Lama managed to perfect and keep up his own practice in a job and life with incredible demands. The discussion on the wisdom of forgiveness is frosting on the cake.