Buddhism began somewhere between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE and has since become one of the most popular religions. Amassing around 520 million followers, known as Buddhists, Buddhism has encompassed many eastern traditions and has spread its influence all over the world.

The Dalai Lama, a Tibetan monk who is seen as the most spiritual of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, gave multiple talks about Buddhism and the important aspects of human potential. His new book, Our Human Potential (Shambhala), is a direct translation of the speech and efficiently describes even the smallest aspects of religion.

The book serves as a guide for those who wish to learn more about Buddhism and wish to move towards enlightenment. He easily breaks down even the most complicated aspects of the religion so that anyone can understand. The Dalai Lama tries to reach audiences by explaining the many different pillars, demons, and aspects of the religion in ways that anyone could understand. He does not shy away from questions and is entirely willing to explain the aspects over and over again until everyone understands him. He never gripes about the questions and makes sure people are able to ask throughout the speeches. The novel easily flows from one topic to the next so that each topic can be used to learn about the next.

This remains to be an interesting look into not only another religion but into another culture as well.  Eastern civilization has commonly thought through spiritualism, a very different set of ideals compared to western civilization. The speeches about Buddhism also represent case studies on how an entire culture chooses to think and live. Learning about this popular way of thinking is another way to expose readers to other cultures and keep them open-minded about places outside of their comfort zone.

The Dalai Lama does a good job teaching to teach, rather than trying to recruit. He avoids trying to recruit people to Buddhism and encourages people to do what they want with the information. No one feels like they are being pitched to. It felt like I had been taught something I knew nothing about and was free to do what I wanted with the information.

Though the topics explained throughout the novel are very complicated, they are broken down so that anyone is able to understand. The fact that the Dalai Lama takes days to explain Buddhism and Consciousness shows that he wants to make sure that anyone can access the information. The readers can take in the information and do what they want with it. He explains that Buddhism is not about remembering every little pillar or detail about the religion, but it is about reaching your highest potential as a good person. This book is amazing for expanding someone’s thoughts and providing a different perspective on how we live.

Our Human Potential is now available.


About the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born in 1935 to a peasant family in northeastern Tibet and was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. The world’s foremost Buddhist leader, he travels extensively, speaking eloquently in favor of ecumenical understanding, kindness and compassion, respect for the environment, and, above all, world peace.