I purchased this book while perusing a Borders that was going out of business, and strictly because of the title. As a therapist and a practitioner of Eastern philosophy I am aware of how although we believe we have the freedom of choice, quite often our choices are made out of our conditioning. I fully expected this book to reaffirm that thinking, and to discuss how to overcome it. The book met and surpassed this expectation.
Some books create a peace in me by just catching a glimpse of them. This is the case of this book. From the time of my purchase it served as a meditation bell. It reminded me of how important it is to be meditative in every aspect of my life, not just in sitting. Another book that had led to this feeling in me was “Being Peace” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
I read the majority of this book on the beach, as at the time my schedule permitted mornings at the beach before starting my day. I devoured the beginning chapters of the book, highlighting several long parts. The books chapters are short, which is a factor I love in books. This allows for short readings and reflection, if one is so inclined. I would read a short chapter to three, and let it resonate for a day or two before reading again. From the beginning I knew I would need to read this book more than once (which is uncommon for me to want to do).
As I progressed though the book my enthusiasm waned. The book discusses how even spiritual practice “can become chains that bind us to repetitive patterns”. Although I have been aware of this since the beginning of my reading of Buddhist material, I still find it discouraging to read how many levels one has to pass through to attain a true sense of enlightenment. Its not that I don’t believe these statements, I do. Even if I didn’t believe them, my disbelief would likely originate from my desire to have enlightenment come quickly and easily like my culture demands. But hearing the message of how far you have to go can be difficult at times.
I do not want any discouragement I may have felt to detract from the worthiness of this book. The book beautifully describes the path to enlightenment through the beliefs of Tibetan Buddhism. It describes how ones own sense of accomplishment in their practice is a hindrance to enlightenment. It discusses how to work with negative emotions, and the trap that many fall into of trying to escape feeling by attaining enlightenment.
I definitely recommend the book to anyone interested in a path of enlightenment. The truth can often be discouraging, but it is necessary nonetheless.