I warn you now, this will sound like a sales pitch. But what’s life without capitalism? Especially sales pitches that pitch for the sale of compassion?
The Dalai Lama is a contemporary saint of the highest calibur. He’s not only as sweet as Tupelo Honey, but he can keep you, father, because his eyes can See, and, made of granite, he is dressed up, but he is also bent on chivalry. Did you get the musical reference?
Seriously though, the Dalai Lama’s book “An Open Heart” has to be the most important book that I have read thus far in my short lifespan so far. It is probably the most influential, life-changing, and most importantly, the most healing book that I have ever read.
Why? How can intellectual knowledge and mere words ever change lives? Well, first of all (and not many people realize this) is that words can change people’s hearts in vast and profound ways. Yes, ‘actions’ seem to be the only actions available to our repertoire of actions to perform in order to change things. (‘Action’, in this case, is a very subjective word, and it, too, is a word after all). We, the People seem to carry this notion on our shoulders like a cross that “Actions speak louder than words” and that one must “walk the walk” and “talking the talk” just doesn’t cut it. I believe this is spouted from people who’s ears have been filled with old cliches and they believe they sound good, and so they parrot blissfully away. I definitely think that some people are motivated to say these words due to past experiences. Some, I think, only parrot these words because they sound good, and that they think actions are better somehow because they seem to enact more general or significant change.
I think this notion is a superficial view and a shallow analysis of the nature of an action and of the fundamental nature of the word. The promise comes from the word, and the action should follow. If the action does not follow, then the word itself wasn’t felt with the proper sincerity.
In any case, I think most people on their high horse who say that actions speak louder than words have no respect for words at all.
But words are so powerful.Words can be actions. Words can kill. Words can drive a person to do inexplicably crazy or sublime things. One can not only change a heart, but more importantly, they can change their own heart.
This is the power of the mantra. If I repeat one thing over and over and over again to myself or to a loved one, me or my loved one will start to believe it. It’s the same principle behind the Big Lie: when a person of power says a lie to the American public enough about certain weapons being contained in a far-away country, or that a certain neighboring country has immoral, baseless, lazy people and don’t deserve to come into the United States, then people will eventually start to believe it. With a mantra, if one hears it enough, their heart will start to internalize it, and they will eventually start to feel the words physically, in their bodies.
This is precisely the power of The Dalai Lamas’s book, An Open Heart. In it, he writes with such simplistic clarity and sincerity, that each sentence – whether the sentence is an explication of today’s issues, or an example of an afflictive emotion, or grain of wisdom from the Buddhist doctrines – is powerful beyond measure. (Of course, some of the credit, as far as the clarity of the language goes, has to go to his editor, Nicholas Vreeland).
Granted, these mere words can only take root in your heart if and only if (like a geometry proof) you actually take the words to heart. In other words, you must not only read the book, but drink the book, read slowly and contemplate the words that you read. And then apply some of the things his Holiness talks about.
Bruce Lee once said: “It is not enough to simply have knowledge. We must apply that knowledge.” This is true also for this book’s words. In order to gain the full benefit of reading the book, and to gain some kind of physical and lifelong reaction to the words; in order, to put it simply, to gain the full benefits of the impact of the sincerity, we must a least make a little effort to apply the things he says about compassion, meditation, contemplation, and reflection on peace and alleviation of all suffering in the world. I’ve found that it increases the enjoyment of the book tenfold!
A brief synopsis of this extraordinary self-help book:
It starts by telling us that our lives and our aspirations for happiness are tainted by a host of afflictive emotions, such as envy and anger. He shows us a way out of the cyclic dukkha existence (the vicious cycle of birth, death, and rebirth) by showing us the Buddhist ways on how to meditate. While meditating, we have to not only develop a sharp mind, but a keen sense of compassion for other sentient beings, including birds, insects and narwhals (which, of course, are simply the unicorns of the sea!)
Of course the book is so much more nuanced and detailed than that. Anyways, go. Go, and be cool, bruh, be cool!
Here is great little video that shows us that compassion should not be a sign of weakness, but a natural, ingrained genetic trait that we must express in order to survive! It is a little difficult to understand the Dalai Lama, as his English and accent is thick. Just be patient and don’t have any other windows open on your browser.
Unicorns! In your dreams and in the sea! Double rainbows! Freedom, and free will! Down with cynical fascism! Up with compassion! You already know.