cover image Transforming the Mind: Teachings on Generating Compassion

Transforming the Mind: Teachings on Generating Compassion

Dalai Lama. Thorsons Publishers, $20 (168pp) ISBN 978-0-7225-4030-5

Based on a seminar the Dalai Lama gave in London in 1999, this slender volume offers His Holiness's reflections on The Eight Verses of Transforming the Mind, a short work by Langri Thangpa, an 11th-century Tibetan teacher. The book is distractingly disjointed--Langri Thangpa's original words are hidden away in an index, and each chapter concludes with a Q&A in which the Dalai Lama offers comments that are not obviously connected to the preceding chapter. Furthermore, the reader who bears with the careless organization may be disappointed by the book's content. Many of the Dalai Lama's ruminations are familiar from his other recent bestsellers. For example, he suggests that in the new millennium, we need to work toward interfaith understanding by participating in interfaith dialogues and meetings and visiting sites that are sacred to practitioners of other religious traditions. When he turns his attention to meditation, His Holiness seems less inspired than usual: meditation is valuable, but he admits that it can be tough. Meditators tend to get distracted, drowsy, lax, and agitated. We need to take both physical and mental responses into account when trying to deal with these obstacles--if we struggle with drowsiness, we must make sure we are getting enough sleep, and we should focus on ""ideas which have a naturally sobering effect"" if we are agitated. These teachings may be transformative--but they add little to the many teachings by the Dalai Lama already available in book form. (May)