***image1***“…All beings are equal to you in their wish to find happiness and their desire to overcome suffering. Recognizing this, you make a pledge to develop a good heart.” On the morning of August 15, 1999 , Manhattan ’s Central Park welcomed over 200,000 individuals who heard these words spoken to them by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
His visit to New York City was the result of an invitation by The Tibet Center and the Gere Foundation for His Holiness to give a series of talks within the New York area.
The Buddhist philosophies and words of enlightenment given by the Dalai Lama during that visit serve as the foundation for this book. An Open Heart (Little Brown, 2001) is a simple introduction to the Buddhist path to enlightenment as His Holiness, the Dalai Lama discusses opening up one’s heart and finding compassion through various meditative methods taken from three sacred texts of Buddhism.
***image2***Advantages of a virtuous life are first discussed, followed by practices, which diffuse negative emotions to encourage an open and disciplined mind. The book then introduces the more sophisticated level of mediation practices — all combined, they encourage the enlightenment of one to bring about change through Buddhist insight via the attainment of compassion.
However, the Dalai Lama points out that the information in the book is not an easy cure-all, and stresses the importance of free will and self-accountability in relation to his message, as he writes, “Meditation may also be thought of as a technique by which we gain control over the mind and guide it in a more virtuous direction. Yet the techniques themselves do not lead to enlightenment or a compassionate and open heart. That is up to you, and the effort and motivation you bring to your spiritual practice.”
An Open Heart is a fascinating book, with a message from one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders that will reinvigorate the soul of its reader. It is for anyone who wants to explore the wonders of Buddhist mediation. Moreover, it is for anyone who chooses to pursue the purpose of the book as defined by its title — to learn to open one’s own heart, to understand and attain true compassion, and to enter into an enlightened state of being that would change one’s own surroundings and circumstances on a global scale.