Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Report- My Spiritual Journey

They book I read throughout the semester was called My Spiritual Journey by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is somewhat of an autobiography, in that it is a collection of teachings and stories from His Holiness. It was originally titled My Spiritual Autobiography, but it was changed because although all the statements in the book are the Dalai Lama's, "but given the collaborative effort involved in creating this book, it is not an autobiography in the strictest sense."

The book touches on the Dalai Lama's life, and how he came to be where he is now. It then gives excerpts from his teachings that have been translated by his translator Sofia Stril-Rever. Teachings are given in Three Main Parts, and subsections within each part:

  • Part I: As a Human Being
    • Our Common Humanity
    • My Lives Without Beginning or End
  • Part II: As a Buddhist Monk
    • Transforming Oneself
    • Transforming the World
    • Taking Care of the Earth
  • Part III: As the Dalai Lama
    • In 1959 the Dalai Lama Meets the World
    • I Appeal to All the Peoples of the World
    • Conclusion: I Place My Home in the Human Heart
As I read this book, I felt as if I was getting to know not only the situation the Dalai Lama is in, but also the Tibetans in Exile as a whole are in. It was interesting to me to get the perspective of His Holiness on this situation. What is really interesting to me is that:
- His Holiness' view differs dramatically from many Tibetan's in exile. Not all, but many.
-Despite this, Tibetans do not want His Holiness to retire. They would like him to remain their political AND spiritual leader

The thing that I liked the most about this book is how extremely humble and positive His Holiness is. He has a lot he could be upset and negative about, but he remains positive and cheerful, not to mention extremely compassionate and kind. He is truly inspiring.

My favorite segment is from a segment that can be read in the link attached to the titile of the book in the first paragraph, which is the segment titled "I am a professional laugher." This section talks about the positive attitude I mentioned above, and how the Dalai Lama adopts this attitude.  He says: 

"Of course problems are there. But thinking only of the negative aspect doesn't help to find the solutions, and it destroys peace of mind. Everything, though, is relative. You can see the positive side of even the worst tragedies if you adopt a holistic perspective. If you take the negative as absolute and definitive, however, you increase your worries and anxiety, whereas by broadening the way you look at a problem, hou understand what is bad about it, but you accept it. This attitude comes to me, I think, from my practice and from Buddhist philosophy, which helps me enormously."

Because of the compassionate philosophy and tremendous example of His Holiness communicated in this book, I feel that I got a lot more out of it than just learning more about the people I will be working with on my field study. I felt spiritually touched and moved by the teachings in this book. The Dalai Lama is truly a wonderful man and is inspired to teach and lead his people. This book inspired me to be more compassionate, to care for my fellow men, regardless of their beliefs, and to be more positive in times of trials and frustration. It also taught me to embrace the similarities rather than focus on differences of others, and to view everyone as a human being. The book My Spiritual Journey is an inspiring book that has taught me much more than I thought it was going to when I began reading it this semester.


  1. I have thought about either reading this or his official autobiography. Thank you for sharing! It has been very helpful! We'll have to talk next time I see you and I'll decide for sure.


Books I'm Reading

  • My Spiritual Journey by H.H. the Dalai Lama
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin