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Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living
TibetNet[Wednesday, July 20, 2005 03:35]
Book review by Thubten Samphel

Mahatma Gandhi and His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Non-Violence and Compassion,
edited by Dr. Satish Inamdar
Published by the Department of Information and International Relations, CTA, 2005
Printed at Omkar Offset Printers, Bangalore
Price Rs 450
Pages 365 +

On 6 July in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a brand new book, Mahatma Gandhi and His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Non-violence and Compassion, was launched to mark the 70th birthday of the Tibetan leader in Dharamsala. Dr. Satish Inamdar, the editor of the book, said that the Tibetan leader was a worthy inheritor of the Mahatmas legacy. The book, divided not into chapters but months, from January to December, and marked not by pages but by dates of each month of the year, is a daily reading and offering of the thoughts on non-violence and compassion of two great exponents.

The world is sorely in need of such guidance. The world as we see it on TV screens and as we read it on newspaper pages, and worse, as experienced by those who live through the horrors, can do more with this ancient wisdom as explained by contemporary masters. What path should international community take? Continue on the present course of unbridled development? Or change course to a more sustainable method of development? We dont need to spend sleepless nights to figure out what is wrong with the world.

We can explain the present human tragedy in whatever terms we like. Either as a clash of civilizations or as the escalating rivalry for energy and resources triggered by unprecedented economic development. Whatever the reason, the human tragedy unfolds inexorably, from the devastated streets and tubes of London, from Iraq, Afghanistan to many other troubled spots where of a cycle of violence reigns. The question is, how long will this last, before another Ice Age buries us, or global warming engulfs us? Or, before our unfettered consumerism consumes us?

In the age of globalization and consumerist society, it may sound like the case of, as one great writer said, heres a speech, theres a preach, and everywhere a sermon. But as both Mahatma Gandhi and His Holiness the Dalai Lama point out, our very survival on this planet depends on our ability to formulate a more sustainable form of development, based on non-violence and compassion.

More than a thousand years ago, a great Indian Buddhist master posited the need for human beings to use the resources of the earth without indiscriminately exploiting these resources. He asked if a man, barefoot, was required to walk the length of the earth and all the roads and footpaths were strewn with thorns, what would the man need to do? Cover the whole earth with leather to protect his feet? The master said the only sensible thing for the man to do was to fit himself with a pair of leather shoes. And that is sustainable living from a Buddhist perspective.

About our need to look after our planet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has these words to say. "There is suffering on this planet and there is a need to strengthen our love for our planet and our service to the living Earth.

"This planet is our own home. Taking care of our world, our planet is just like taking care of our own home. Our very live depend upon this Earth, our environment" But now, a time has come when our power to destroy is so extreme that Mother Earth is compelled to tell us to be careful. Nuclear weapons, population explosion and many other indicators make this clear, dont they?"

Mahatma Gandhi says, "It is not enough to refrain from taking the life of a living being. He who has pledged himself to this vow may not kill, even those whom he believes to be unjust; he may not be angry with them, he must love them. He will not carry out the tyrants will but he will suffer punishment even unto death for disobeying his will until the tyrant himself is won over."

Dr. Satish Inamdhar does not identify whose comments belong to whom. For this reason the compilation of comments by Mahatma Gandhi and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is seamless and bounce off each other. Each commentary on non-violence and compassion reinforces the others thoughts.

Readers will remain grateful to Dr. Satish Inamdhar for a wonderful and insightful compilation of the thoughts of the two of the worlds truly great teachers. Mahatma Gandhi and His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Non-violence and Compassion deserves to become a book of daily reading for all those concerned about the sorry state of our so- called modern world.

Here is another of His Holiness the Dalai Lamas favourite prayers.

May I become at all times,
Both now and for ever,
A protector for the helpless,
A guide for the lost ones,
A ship for those to cross oceans,
And a bridge to cross rivers,
A sanctuary for those in danger,
A lamp for those in darkness,
A refuge for those who need shelter,
A servant to all in need.


To order the book, please contact the address below. Postal charges are extra. The book is equipped with a CD.

Publications Section
DIIR
Central Tibetan Administration
Gangchen Kyishong
Dharamsala
Himachal Pradesh
India
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