Synopses & Reviews
If you are inspired to take up his challenge, the Karmapa offers a path for participating in a global community that is based on compassion. In these chapters, he shares his vision for bringing social action into daily life, on a scale we can realistically manage through the choices we make every day—what to buy, what to eat, and how to relate honestly and bravely with our friends and family and coworkers. His fresh and encouraging perspective shows us that we have the strength to live with kindness in the midst of the many challenges we face as socially and environmentally conscious beings. Because he sees the world through the lens of the interdependence of all beings, he sees that humans can change social and environmental problems by changing their attitudes and actions. And so, he shows ways that we can change our world by changing ourselves—by examining our own habits of consumption and by being willing to look into how our food reaches our table and how the products we buy are made. In his chapter on gender, he points out that we don’t have to label others according to a social construct.
If his viewpoint seems optimistic, it is—and it’s also demanding. The Karmapa calls on us to open our mind and heart to the innumerable connections we share with others—in our families, communities, social systems, and on our planet. Thanks to the depth of his spiritual training, and the breadth of his curiosity about the world and his love for it, he presents a relevant framework for understanding what it means to be human now—and why it’s imperative that we concern ourselves with the well-being of all others. He points to a world we can create through our own effort, using a resource we already have in abundance—the basic nobility of our human heart.
"This is not a book about Buddhism. I don't want to talk about Buddhist theory or practice, but about our experience of life. The shared ground we all meet on is our shared concern about our lives and our world, rather than philosophical views. On that ground, we can meet as friends."—from the Introduction
Focusing on developing an open heart toward all others, the Karmapa, a youthful Tibetan Buddhist leader, offers encouragement to look at the causes of the world's problems and to take small steps toward changing systems and ways of thinking that seem immovable. Speaking from his experience growing up as a nomad on the Tibetan plains, and then living in monasteries in Tibet and India, the author shares his perspective on habits of consumption in different parts of the world, and how wealthy societies subjugate impoverished societies without being aware of it. The book is based on intensive conversations held during a month-long session where a group of American college seniors met with the Karmapa. The guidance presented here is timely and inspiring for anyone who feels helpless in the face of global changes.
Topics addressed by the Karmapa include the importance of healthy, honest relationships; exposing the causes of greed and consumerism; how to find meaningful livelihood; protection of the natural environment; the meaning of social justice, as well as justice in food and fuel production; and how to sustain a lifetime of kind and compassionate activity.
Sixteen American college students spent a month in India with His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa. Together, they discussed topics ranging from food justice to gender identities to sustainable compassion. The Karmapa’s teachings in this book are the product of those meetings.
For those who wish to take up its challenge, this book can serve as a guide to being a friend to this planet and to all of us who share it. The Karmapa describes how to see the world as a global community, in which people are linked by their shared concerns for humanity—and their wish to bring about real change. While acknowledging the magnitude of this undertaking, the Karmapa shows us how to go about it, using the inner resources we have already.
About the Author
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the spiritual head of one of the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The 900-year-old lineage of Karmapas has included some of Tibet's greatest spiritual masters. Born to nomadic parents in rural Tibet, he was identified while still a young child as the heir to this leadership position. In 2000, the Karmapa's dramatic escape to India from Chinese-ruled Tibet at the age of fourteen propelled him onto the world stage. Since then, he has emerged as an international Buddhist leader and environmental activist, founding Khoryug, a region-wide environmental protection program. The Karmapa has been dubbed the "new face of Tibetan Buddhism," and many Tibetans look to the Karmapa for inspiration in their struggle to preserve their embattled culture. In 2008, he made his historic first visit to America. He currently resides at Gyuto Monastery, near Dharamsala, India.