cover image Spiritual Advice for Buddhists and Christians

Spiritual Advice for Buddhists and Christians

Dalai Lama, Bstan-'Dzin-Rgy. Continuum, $10.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-8264-1076-4

Readers who think of the Dalai Lama as that beloved, avuncular, cosmopolitan, orange-robed monk with the kindly eyes and charismatic manner are in for a surprise, if not a downright shock, with this small but powerful collection of spiritual essays. Like the weather on the slopes of the Himalayas, these words burn down with the brightest sun one minute, and then, without warning, they blow right through you with the feel of an icy breeze. The preface describes how these talks were given in July 1996 by the Dalai Lama to a joint retreat of 25 Buddhist and 25 Christian monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani, the one-time home of Thomas Merton, a close and beloved friend of the Dalai Lama. Each homily is directed with deadly accuracy at the hearts, souls and minds of his listeners. They start, as any climb up the Himalayas does, with an easygoing amble up slopes that most of us can follow with ease. But as the Dalai gets into his stride, the spiritual atmosphere becomes thinner, the slopes steeper and the amount of specialized knowledge and experience required to follow in his footsteps becomes increasingly demanding. From time to time, the Dalai Lama does refer to the faith and spiritual practices of the Catholic monks, but his major intention is to give an elegant and sometimes esoteric commentary on the spiritual path taken by his Tibetan monks. (Aug.)