How to Practice Essay - Critical Essays

How to Practice

The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, explains how to achieve a happier life by training the mind through a daily practice that progresses from morality to concentrated mediation and to wisdom. He begins with an explanation of the basic tenets of Buddhism and the overall goal, enlightenment, then sets forth a detailed, step-by-step process by which enlightenment can be attained.

The first part of the process, practicing morality, is developing an awareness of how your actions affect yourself and others so that you can refrain from harming others and develop concern and compassion for others. The second part, concentrated meditation, teaches you to focus your mind and achieve a state of calm abiding even when surrounded by distractions and worries. The third step, wisdom, focuses on understanding the concept of selflessness (the absence of an unchanging and separate self) and gaining insight into the true nature of beings and things.

The summaries at the end of each chapter provide specific practices that can easily be incorporated into daily life. The practices include techniques for managing feelings of jealousy and anger, overcoming negative thinking, focusing and calming the mind, and developing compassion for others. The practices range from simple techniques that can be employed by Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, to advanced techniques suitable for long-term practitioners. This broad coverage and the emphasis on practice make this book best for someone with a basic understanding of Buddhism.