Month: June 2010

The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler : The Art of Happiness

When I first read this book in 2002, having been lent it by a friend, my comments were as follows:

The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama had been well worth reading. I’m not sure if it’s a general Buddhist thing or particular to the Dalai Lama, but I was very much impressed at the fact that his ideas are based entirely on everyday experience and common sense. The starting point of his philosophy is that everyone (in fact, every sentient being) wants to be happy, and we need no purpose to life beyond that. No afterlife, God or incomprehensible ‘divine purpose’ is necessary to persuade people to be kind to each other, just the realisation that they want to be happy and that they’re no different to anyone else, and that the best way to be happy oneself is to try to make others happy. In a lot of ways his philosophy is very similar to humanism or Epicureanism; I wouldn’t mind reading some more of his books.

So far I haven’t got round to reading any more of them, but I did recently buy a copy of The Art of Happiness, and re-reading it has been a very worthwhile experience. I hadn’t yet started giving books points in 2002, but this time it got a 5 on my scale of 1 to 5, something which very few books get and which basically means that I regard it as a masterpiece, a book I will probably keep on re-reading occasionally for the rest of my life, and one which I think everyone should read. It’s simply written, very easy to read and aimed at a large audience, and is therefore perhaps slightly oversimplified, but that’s a small criticism considering what’s been achieved here. It deserves a more detailed commentary this time… (more…)