Excerpt from The Art of Happiness at Work by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler, M.D., plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Art of Happiness at Work

By His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

The Art of Happiness at Work
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Aug 2003,
    224 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2004,
    224 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Yes. Good." The Dalai Lama nodded.

"And since we're going to be talking about work this week, I was just curious, what do you consider to be your primary job?"

The Dalai Lama looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"

I was puzzled why he was puzzled. It seemed to be a simple question.

"Well, in the West," I explained, "when you meet somebody, often the first question you ask a stranger is, 'What do you do?' meaning specifically, 'What kind of work do you do? What's your job?' So, if you met a complete stranger and they didn't know you or had never heard of the Dalai Lama and they didn't even know what your monk's robes signified, they just met you as a human being and they asked you, 'What do you do for a living?' what would you tell them?"

The Dalai Lama reflected in silence for a long while, and finally declared, "Nothing. I do nothing."

Nothing? In response to my blank stare, he repeated himself. "If I was suddenly posed with this question that would probably be my answer. Nothing."

Nothing? I didn't buy it. He clearly worked as hard as anyone I knew, harder even. And as grueling as this day had been, it was light duty compared to his schedule during his frequent trips abroad. In fact, informally attached to his small staff on a speaking tour of the U.S. the year before, I had witnessed a remarkable display of relentless activity, dedication, and hard work: as a statesman, he had met with President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and a host of high-ranking senators and members of Congress. As a teacher, an ordained Buddhist monk and consummate Buddhist scholar, he gave extensive lectures expounding the most subtle facets of Buddhist philosophy. As a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and tireless advocate for world peace and human rights, he gave public addresses to tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. As a religious leader striving to promote interfaith dialogue and harmony, he met with religious figures from many faiths: priests, rabbis, ministers, and swamis, even the president of the Mormon Church. He met with scientists, scholars, entertainers, the famous and the obscure. And in each place he visited, he met with local Tibetan refugees struggling to make a life and prosper in their new country. He worked morning till night, traveling from city to city with such speed that one place seemed to merge into the next. And yet not a single meeting or event on this tour was initiated at his own request--all were based on invitations from others. And even more remarkable--no matter how rigorous his schedule became, he seemed to handle his work effortlessly. He was happy doing it.

He did nothing? Not by a long shot.

"No, really," I pressed. "What if someone persisted and asked you again?"

"Well," he laughed, "in that case, I would probably say, 'I just look after myself, just take care of myself.'" Perhaps sensing my frustration with this glib response, he smiled and continued, "I think maybe this answer isn't entirely serious. But actually, if you think about it, that's true. All six billion human beings in the world are just 'taking care of number one.' Isn't it? So whether one is a professional, or whatever line of work one is in, each of us from birth to death is just working to take care of ourselves. That's our main task."

My attempt to pin him down on his job description was getting nowhere fast. And this wasn't the first time I had noticed his natural reluctance to engage in discussion about his role in the world. Perhaps it was due to a certain lack of self-absorption, an absence of self-involvement. I don't know. But I decided to drop the subject of his job for now and turn to the wider issue.

"Well, in working to take care of ourselves most people need some kind of job. Now many times in the past I've heard you say that the purpose of life is happiness."

From The Art of Happiness at Work. Copyright The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Riverhead Books.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Sailor Twain
by Mark Siegel

Published Mar. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.