The Dalai Lama has a sense of humor that is both all-encompassing and profound. This is the second book of his I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it as he spells out key principles to living an ethical life. This is not a religious book and is even titled Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World where it focuses on the concepts of happiness, compassion, and mindfulness. The book outlines key aspects of our mental and emotional states that are needed in order to create a more meaningful life.
There is a discussion about mindset and the key role that intention plays in our lives. Ensuring that we are acting from a place of compassion with good intentions and weighing the consequences should be a part of how we make decisions in our lives. The intent is very important, but so is ensuring you are weighing the consequences. I have found this to be true in my own life when I apply this idea of intention. For example, if I go to a meeting with the intention of solely getting through it my experience is markedly different then when I come with an open mind to learn. Setting the right intention for the day through meditation is a practice I have adopted recently. It helps put the day into perspective and quiet my mind before I dive headfirst into a packed schedule.
The first section of the book highlights what the Dalai Lama calls secular ethics. He first addresses the notion that in the West there is a tendency to have a negative connotation to the term secular. The Dalai Lama disagrees and argues that in actuality secular ethics are the most important as they can bridge the gap between religions and those that are non-religious. The concept has merit as we see the ebbing and flowing of religion in society and the need to ensure that society educates everyone on living an ethical life. India is the reference that the Dalai Lama uses to highlight how religiously diverse the country has been for thousands of years yet these different religions are able to live in harmony for the most part due to this notion of secular ethics.
The final part of the book is all focused on the mind and how we can influence the heart through proper training of the mind. The mind is so powerful in shaping our outlook on life and how we approach the world. Being able to practice mindfulness and properly recognize and constructively deal with negative emotions are crucial to a high quality of life. The Dalai Lama then concludes with meditation and cultivating the mind through focused reflection. This book serves a guide to reference when you are in a tough place emotionally or are searching for answers in your life. It will help you evaluate and think critically about how you can live the most productive life that will fulfill you.