Summary and book reviews of Ethics For The New Millennium by His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Ethics For The New Millennium

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

Ethics For The New Millennium
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  • Hardcover: Aug 1999,
    237 pages.
    Paperback: May 2001,
    237 pages.

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"I am convinced that human nature is basically gentle, not aggressive. And every one of us has a responsibility to act as if all our thoughts, words, and deeds matter. For really, they do. Our lives have both purpose and meaning." --from Ethics for the Next Millennium

In this time of increasing violence and confusion, modern society seems to have lost its ethical direction. The Dalai Lama contends that what we perceive as a drift into ethical chaos is not caused by a loosening of moral standards, but rather by an inherent flaw in the way our morals have been structured: They were formed with the assumption that humankind, if left unsupervised, will perpetrate horrible acts.

The Dalai Lama bases his exquisitely argued cry for a new look at society on the radical notion that human beings are "originally pure"--not originally sinful--and he presents a persuasive examination of our fundamental natures. In chapters offering helpful advice on how to enhance compassion, deal with anger and hatred, and cope with suffering, Ethics for the Next Millennium proposes that if enough people operate from an understanding of their true nature, a global revolution of peace will ensue.

As someone nearing seventy years of age at the time of writing, I have accumulated enough experience to be completely confident that the teachings of the Buddha are both relevant and useful to humanity. If a person puts them into practice, it is certain that not only they but others, too, will benefit. My meetings with many different sorts of people the world over have, however, helped me realize that there are other faiths, and other cultures, no less capable than mine of enabling individuals to lead constructive and satisfying lives. What is more, I have come to the conclusion that whether or not a person is a religious believer does not matter much. Far more important is that they be a good human being.

I say this in acknowledgment of the fact that though a majority of the earth's nearly six billion human beings may claim allegiance to one faith tradition or another, the influence of religion on people's lives is generally marginal, especially in the developed world. ...

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Booklist - Donna Seaman

Stating bluntly that it is far more important to be a good human being than to be a religious believer, the Dalai Lama encourages his readers to act out of concern for the well-being of others rather than indulge our habitual preoccupation with self. This may sound simplistic, but there is nothing superficial about the Dalai Lama's argument or the ethics he defines.

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As His Holiness himself says, very little in this book is original. But his message is so often neglected that it sounds very fresh indeed. Simple but not simplistic.

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