Becoming Enlightened

Becoming Enlightened was written by the Dalai Lama, translated into English by Jeffrey Hopkins. If there was ever an "expert" on becoming enlightened, the Dalai Lama would be it! It is pretty amazing in this modern world that the entire world can easily get access to and read a book by a head of a giant religious group like this - and that the book is enjoyable!

I usually take notes when I read books, and I took a TON of notes while reading Becoming Enlightened. This is definitely a helpful book for all people to read, not just Buddhists. First, it's always good to understand what people of a certain group believe in, no matter what that group is. Second, most of the tips are simply about living a content, stress-free life. That is something that all of us are striving towards!

Interestingly, the book explicitly says that ALL religions are valid and each is suited well for a different group of people. It says Buddhists should never go around trying to "convert" others. Buddhism is not "better" than other religions. Each religion is a path, each one promotes peace, compassion and charity.

The book goes step by step through a number of ideas to improve your life. You should make sure you are spending time on *important* things. Time is precious, don't waste it by hurrying to do thing you really don't have in your priority list. Cherish others, strive not to harm anyone or any sentient creature.

You should try to bring under control your lust for objects and people. Our modern society hypes us to want more and more. Instead, learn to be content with what you have, to appreciate what you already own. Try to calm your angry feelings about things and people you find unpleasant. Instead, find ways to accept the way they are, to tolerate them. Always strive to learn, to grow your horizons.

The book suggests you try to meditate daily, to give yourself some calm, quiet time. Focus on appreciating yourself and others. People pray all the time for more money, for a nicer body - but rarely do they simply focus on being content NOW. In fact, if people relaxed and were content with they had now, they would be healthier and happier now.

I really found this quote powerful - "appreciate how rare and full of potential your situation is in this world, take joy in it, and use it to your best advantage." Half of the world lives in abject poverty and barely has enough food to survive the day. If you have access to a computer and running water, you are way ahead of the game!

To help you focus, the book lays out, in order of severity, the list of activities to wean yourself off of. These start with killing, then go into stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive talk, harsh speech, senseless chatter, covetousness, harmful intent, and finally wrong views.

The book provides great summaries at the end of every chapter to help you review what was said. I liked one of the meditation exercises. You start by focusing on yourself - sending yourself love, acceptance and joy. Do that for a few sessions. Then at the next session you think about your best friend - send her those waves of love. After a few more sessions move on to other best friends. Slowly work your way outwards until you are sending love to the whole world, and relaxing in the quiet sensation. It really will affect how you relate to others!

Highly recommended.

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