LETTING GO OF THE PERSON YOU USED TO BE: Lessons on Changes, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation

Lama Surya Das, Author . Broadway $25 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7679-0873-3

Das, an American-born lama in the Dzogchen lineage of Tibet and author of the bestseller Awakening the Buddha Within, here explores the losses and changes that inevitably mark our lives. He argues that what is important is not that difficult things happen (Buddhism's first truth, after all, is that life is suffering), but how we deal with them. Pure detachment from loss and sorrow is not sufficient, he says; the goal is non-attachment to circumstances that are by nature impermanent. Despite losses and pain, we still need to be fully engaged with the world: "Spiritual detachment or equanimity should never be equated with indifference or complacent resignation." One of the strongest sections of the book is Das's simple chronicle of various losses he has suffered, both enormous (the death of his father) and mundane (a stolen bike). Thus acknowledged, his echoing pain prevents the book from being self-help pabulum about how bad things make good people stronger. The writing style, composed mostly of short, choppy sentences, seems well suited for effective public speaking, but unpolished for a book. Many of Das's recommendations—meditating, journal writing, "naming" your feelings, visualizing attachments, chanting a healing mantra—are fairly standard self-help ideas, as are the classic and familiar Buddhist anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book. But there are also great and original nuggets of wisdom here, as when Das advocates the ancient Tibetan practice of chod, a hero's quest-like ritual to confront personal fears. (Aug. 12)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-553-81627-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 158 pages - 978-0-7679-1962-3
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-7679-0874-0
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4070-9549-3
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