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Books  >>  Religion

Dalai Lama

Middle Way, The

Dalai Lama Middle Way The Faith Grounded In Reason
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Biographical note:

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He frequently describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. He passed his scholastic examinations with honors at the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa in 1959, the same year Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives.

His Holiness frequently states that his life is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values or secular ethics in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of interreligious harmony, and securing the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of their identity, culture, and religion. As a superior scholar trained in the classical texts of the Nalanda tradition of Indian Buddhism, he is able to distill the central tenets of Buddhist philosophy in clear and inspiring language, his gift for pedagogy imbued with his infectious joy. Connecting scientists with Buddhist scholars, he helps unite contemplative and modern modes of investigation, bringing ancient tools and insights to bear on the acute problems facing the contemporary world. His efforts to foster dialogue among leaders of the world's faiths envision a future where people of different beliefs can share the planet in harmony. Wisdom Publications is proud to be the premier publisher of the Dalai Lama's more serious and in-depth works.

Thupten Jinpa Langri was educated in the classical Tibetan monastic academia and received the highest academic degree of Geshe Lharam (equivalent to a doctorate in divinity). Jinpa also holds a BA in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies, both from the University of Cambridge, England. Since 1985, he has been the principal translator to the Dalai Lama, accompanying him to the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has translated and edited many books by the Dalai Lama, including The World of Tibetan Buddhism, Essence of the Heart Sutra, and the New York Times bestseller Ethics for the New Millennium.

Jinpa has published scholarly articles on various aspects of Tibetan culture, Buddhism, and philosophy, and books such as Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Poems of Awakening and Insight (co-authored) and Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Thought. He serves on the advisory board of numerous educational and cultural organizations in North America, Europe, and India. He is currently the president and the editor-in-chief of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to translating key Tibetan classics into contemporary languages. He also currently chairs the Mind and Life Institute.

Main description:

The Dalai Lama opens The Middle Way with an elegant argument for the power of compassion in cultivating a happy life. From there, he connects core ideas of Buddhist philosophy to the truths of our shared condition. His Holiness delivers a sparklingly clear teaching on how the Buddhist ideas of emptiness and interdependency relate to personal experience and bring a deeper understanding of the world around us.

In down-to-earth style, this book sets forth a comprehensive explanation of the foundational teachings of the Mahayana tradition based on the works of two of Buddhism's most revered figures. Using Nagarjuna's Middle Way, the Dalai Lama explores Buddhist understandings of selflessness, dependent origination, and the causal processes that lock us in cycles of suffering. He grounds these heady philosophical discussions using Tsongkhapa's Three Principal Aspects of the Path, presenting a brief explanation of how to put ethical discipline, wisdom, and compassion into practice.

Through these beautifully complementary teachings, His Holiness urges us to strive, "with an objective mind, endowed with a curious skepticism, to engage in careful analysis and seek the reasons behind our beliefs."


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