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To rise higher than a chicken

A variety of short writings on how to become a Buddhist, these writings are conversational rather than preachy.
PTI | By Samrat Choudhury
UPDATED ON MAY 04, 2004 10:00 AM IST

The Path of the Buddha
Edited by Renuka Singh
Penguin
Rs 250

There is a lot of writing on spirituality these days, and much of it seems to be on Buddhism. The Path of the Buddha is a collection of 17 articles by practitioners of the faith. They range from Donna Brown, a Canadian government official who calls herself a lay practitioner, to the Dalai Lama. A range of ideas and experiences thus find place in the 221-page paperback.

I like the variety. There are autobiographical bits where some of the writers, less known than the Dalai Lama, speak of how they came to the path of the Buddha. Kabir Saxena from Delhi recalls being an anguished teenager in the UK. "Loneliness and boredom were my constant companions", he writes. A social worker he met told him about a college of Buddhism in the Lake District of England. Saxena went there, and eventually became a Buddhist.

Some of the pieces contain simple instructions for a happier life. Lama Thubten Yeshe, co-founder of the famed Kopan monastery in Nepal, tells readers to become their own psychologists and examine their minds. "Look deeper into your life's purpose…If you think you are intelligent, you should dedicate your life to goals higher than those of a chicken", he advises.

Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron writes on 'Working with emotions'. Suresh Jindal, an engineer turned filmmaker, brings in quantum physics and all that - the Tao of Physics and Dancing Wu Li Masters line of thought.

The Dalai Lama's article is on how to overcome negative emotions. "Self-discipline is the key to contentment", he says. He also suggests that people should reflect on the impermanence of all things.

The language is conversational and the average length of the pieces - about 30 pages - makes for easy reading. It isn't too preachy either, which is a relief.

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