Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s latest offering to his worldwide readers, “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” will be hitting the stands today.
The book published by Boston based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was announced in July and is being billed as the Dalai Lama’s “first and only book focused on his secular teachings” with a stirring call to “move beyond religion for the guidance to improve human life on individual, community, and global levels”.
The Dalai Lama has written and co-authored over a hundred books, the latest being, “My Spiritual Journey” published in 2010.
In an excerpt from the book released by the publishers, the Tibetan leader looks back at his life and past experiences to advocate for a “way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion”.
“I am an old man now. I was born in 1935 in a small village in north-eastern Tibet. For reasons beyond my control, I have lived most of my adult life as a stateless refugee in India, which has been my second home for over 50 years. I often joke that I am India’s longest-staying guest. In common with other people of my age, I have witnessed many of the dramatic events that have shaped the world we live in. Since the late 1960s, I have also travelled a great deal, and have had the honour to meet people from many different backgrounds: not just presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens, and leaders from all the world’s great religious traditions, but also a great number of ordinary people from all walks of life.
“It is clear that something is seriously lacking in the way we humans are going about things. But what is it that we lack? The fundamental problem, I believe, is that at every level we are giving too much attention to the external material aspects of life while neglecting moral ethics and inner values.
“Today, however, any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate. What we need today is an approach to ethics which makes no recourse to religion and can be equally acceptable to those with faith and those without: a secular ethics.
“I am confident that it is both possible and worthwhile to attempt a new secular approach to universal ethics. My confidence comes from my conviction that all of us, all human beings, are basically inclined or disposed toward what we perceive to be good. Whatever we do, we do because we think it will be of some benefit. At the same time, we all appreciate the kindness of others. We are all, by nature, oriented toward the basic human values of love and compassion. We all prefer the love of others to their hatred. We all prefer others’ generosity to their meanness. And who among us does not prefer tolerance, respect and forgiveness of our failings to bigotry, disrespect and resentment?”
Calling “Beyond Religion” an essential statement from the Dalai Lama, the publishers in a release said that the book serves as a “blueprint” for all those who yearn for a life of spiritual contentment and joy.
While Kirkus Reviews rated the book as an “impressive guide for teaching religious tolerance and respect to readers of all ages,” Publishers Weekly called the book “wise” and “humane” and an “incisive statement of His Holiness’s thinking on ways to bring peace to a suffering world”.
There is also an audio version of the book read by celebrated actor Martin Sheen. The audio version released today is available to download for free through December 20.