The Art of Happiness, by Author (Hardcover, 1998)|
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Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
The subtitle and attributions of this book are not accurate:
- This book is not a handbook. That's actually a positive, because
the path to happiness differs for each individual.
- This book's cover attributes the book to the Dalai Lama "and
Howard C. Butler, M.D." In fact, Dr. Butler wrote the book. In first
I'm not sure the title is correct, either. The book isn't on the art
of happiness per se. This book should be titled, "My Commentary on
Interviews with the Dalai Lama." An appropriate subtitle might be, "We
discussed elements of happiness."
The book does contain excellent advice and insights. But contrary to
the subtitle's implied promise, it doesn't provide a program for
reaching a state of happiness. The author does describe some exercises,
but as a third party observer watching the Dalai Lama take an audience
through them. That's not the same as a "handbook" that would explain
exercises and organize them into some kind of useful structure.
The author's obviously false modesty is annoying. Unless he got his
PhD by mail order, his anecdotes about his lack of mental acuity are not
believable. It would have served the reader better if he'd contrasted a
"difficult" Buddhist concept against related Western concepts. Or, in
keeping with the bar we set for PhDs, he could have just explained why
the concept might be misunderstood or not apparent. I think, instead, he
was pandering to an imagined reader about whom he made assumptions that
are not necessarily so.
Overall, though, the book is worth reading. After all, we are getting
a glimpse of one of the world's spiritual and religious leaders. We get
his thoughts on some interesting. perhaps life-changing, questions.
Dr. Cutler does communicate to the reader what the Dalai Lama recommends
for individuals to find their own path to happiness. He also discusses
some common mistakes and why those end up as dead ends.
I think if
you're struggling with trying to make sense of life, or you find
yourself not very happy as you go through each day, this book can help
you figure out how to climb out of the pit. But it's not a manual that
will tell you where the handholds are on the way up. From the Dalai
Lama's comments, it's clear he doesn't think such a manual is possible.
Not that I'm an expert, but it so happens I agree with him.