Beyond Religion

Beyond Religion

Ethics for A Whole World

Book - 2011
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A bracing and essential modern-day polemic from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Beyond Religion is a blueprint for all those who yearn for a life of spiritual fulfillment as they work for a better world. This is HHDL's new model for mutual respect and understanding - rooted in our shared humanity - between religious believers and non-believers.

Ten years ago, in his bestselling Ethics for a New Millennium , His Holiness the Dalai Lama first proposed an approach to ethics based on universal rather than religious principles. Now, in Beyond Religion , the Dalai Lama, at his most compassionate and outspoken, elaborates and deepens his vision for the nonreligious way. Transcending the mere "religion wars," he outlines a system of secular ethics that gives tolerant respect to religion - those that ground ethics in a belief in God and an afterlife, and those that understand good actions as leading to better states of existence in future lives. And yet, with the highest level of spiritual and intellectual authority, the Dalai Lama makes a claim for what he calls "a third way."

This is a system of secular ethics that transcends religion.
Publisher: Toronto : Signal, c2011.
ISBN: 9780771046032
Branch Call Number: 170.44 BSTAN
Characteristics: xv, 188 p.


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Nov 05, 2016

An inspiring book on secular ethics. I like how the Dalai Lama balances religion and science and promotes acceptance of all beliefs, or even the absence of belief in this book.

Jan 08, 2015

Simply an excellent read. As with anything in life, achieving a state of serenity and compassion takes practice. I have met many a monk who after years of meditating still find that their mind 'wanders'. The Dalai Lama emphasizes that you can learn to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. You will still respond, but now it will be done with compassion and love. As he says, all 7 billion of us are one in the same. He believes that all religions have a place in this world, and that you don't have to be religious to have values like kindness, compassion, forgiveness, patience, & personal integrity.

Aug 03, 2012

The Dalai Lama, via his translator and editors, lays out in this book his vision of a non-religious ethical system based on his assumptions about human nature. He argues that all humans, regardless of language, ethnicity, culture, or religion, strive to attain happiness and avoid pain and suffering. His Holiness also believes we are "hard-wired" to be compassionate. The key to living an ethical life, he argues, is to remember that everyone you encounter, from loved ones and friends to enemies to strangers, want the same thing: to love and be loved. If we practice compassion, discernment, and mindfulness (terms he defines in the book), we will not only achieve happiness for ourselves but assist those around us to find it, too.

The first part of the book discusses what the Dalai Lama means by ethics and compassion in a secular context. In the second, shorter, part, he gives basic instruction on meditation as one possible way to achieve the state of mind he believes is necessary to be able to practice compassion consistently. The writing is clear and straightforward and conversational in tone. It doesn't feel like instruction, but it does come across that the Dalai Lama takes this very seriously and has spent a lifetime thinking about it.

The arguments are reasonable and sensible, and this book makes a good companion to Karen Armstrong's Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life (see my review at As with Armstrong's work, I have some questions. The Dalai Lama seems to imply that anyone can achieve the kind of serenity he describes, but I suspect that's only if you're mentally healthy to begin with. He acknowledges that negative thoughts and emotions can change the brain, but doesn't explain how or whether, if you already have a "sick" brain, meditation alone can "heal" you. And it does seem that working to smooth out your emotional responses would not only take away the lows but also the highs of life, such as ecstasy and rapture. He acknowledges as much near the end, but asserts that you'll still experience the highs without much support for the assertion. He also acknowledges that achieving this state of serenity and compassion is hard work and may take years. Without a teacher or guide, I suspect most people could not stick with it; I'm sure this book alone would not help me to reach that state.

This is a thoughtful, practical book, but by itself is probably not enough to cause most people to undertake the effort needed to become more compassionate.

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