Becoming Enlightened

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I finished reading ”Becoming Enlightened’ by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD) a few weeks ago, but had been procrastinating on writing a review. Not because I don’t want but how do you review a master’s work? It probably won’t do it any justice. So, instead of reviewing it, I think it’s more appropriate to share about this wonderful book. ‘Becoming Enlightened’ is a good read for practitioners of all stages like how clear crisp water that quenches all thirsts alike. There are four sections in the book – a preliminary section that contains a preambulary of what being enlightened is about, followed by a skilful comparison of religions, an unequivocal explanation of the Buddhist framework, a methodical study plan of practising Buddhism, perceptible ways of knowing the qualifications of a teacher and, last but not least, a brief introduction to Buddhism in India and Tibet. Next comes the initial level of practice, where it not only lays a solid foundation for beginners but also gives a good revision for old-timers. With systematic and clear instructions, HHDL lead us right up to high level practice where one is challenged with more advanced practices.

I like the way how the teachings are presented. First, scenarios were illustrated. Next comes the problems. Then, the solutions to counter them. Last but not least, are precise summaries of the teachings and ways to practice were again emphasised as bullet points. This cuts to the point and bares everyone to the naked truth – that life is suffering but there’s a way out. The book is also well-equipped with brilliant quotes from the Buddha and many highly learned masters of the past. It actually leaves no one able to give any excuse that enlightenment is impossible. The only ‘impossibility’ is probably our own self-created limitation. I especially like the section where he taught about compassion – an effective and simple method that works wonders for me and I’m sure for many too.

This is my first book by HHDL and I had already benefited a lot from it.  It would be great if I could be able to learn from him in person. Till then, I think his book is good enough to keep my practice in check. Below is an excerpts from the book…

When cultivating compassion, consider the terrible situation that so many are in. Take to heart how countless numbers of defenseless animals are exploited by humans. Turn your attention towards the excessive slaughter of animals. When we eat meat, we make remarks such as “This meat is tasty,” “This meat is not delicious,” but, in fact, the meat we eat is the body of a sentient being, and we do not have a right to it. Humans are excessively greedy. The vast numbers of chicken farms, pig farms, and fish farms need to be reconsidered. In the past people throughout the world more or less took care of themselves. They killed animals but on our current scale. For the sake of accumulating more wealth, today huge enterprise have been established for exploiting animals. When you think about how these animals suffer, there is no way to avoid making them the objects of love and compassion.

My sharing here is merely a fragment of what the book is really about. Do give this book a read!

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