The Good Heart Book Review
Book Title: The Good Heart A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus
Author(s): His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Robert Kiely, Geshe Thupten Jinpa, Laurence Freeman
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
Paperback Price: $14.36
Kindle Price: $11.99
This book is basically a transcript of the 1994 John Main Seminar in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in an exploration of eight passages from the Christian Gospels.
During the Seminar all participants engaged in a period of meditation after which the Dalai Lama would read a passage from the New Testament and was invited to comment on them as he saw fit. After this, several panel members would discuss them and had the opportunity to ask the Dalai Lama further questions.
Robert Kiely – moderator
Geshe Thupten Jinpa – the Dalai Lama’s translator
Father Laurence Freeman – an Oxford graduate in Literature and a monk of the Olivetan Benedictine Priory in London
Isabelle Glover – a Benedictine and a teacher of Sanskrit
Ajahn Amaro – a Theravadin Buddhist monk of the Thai Forest tradition from Amaravati a monastery in the UK
Sister Eileen O’Hea – a sisters of Saint Joseph, who works as a therapist in Minnesota, USA
Lady Maureen Allan – a practitioner of meditation for 30 years
Peter Ng – Director of the Christian Meditation Center in Singapore
Chapter 1: A Wish for Harmony
Chapter 2: Love Your Enemy (Matthew 5:38-48)
Chapter 3: The Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10)
Chapter 4: Equanimity (Mark 3:31-35)
Chapter 5: The Kingdom of God (Mark 4:26-34)
Chapter 6: The Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36)
Chapter 7: The Mission (Luke 9:1-6)
Chapter 8: Faith (John 12:44-50)
Chapter 9: The Resurrection (John 20:10-18)
The Dalai Lama, when commenting on Jesus’ injunction to “love your enemy” in Chapter 2, says “These Gospel passages also remind me of reflections in another Mahayana text called ‘A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ in which Shantideva states that it is very important to develop the right attitude toward your enemy. If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience, and understanding.”
I think this is a teaching that all in this world can certainly learn from.
I personally loved this dialogue and was impressed with the Dalai Lama’s depth of knowledge and respect for the Christian traditions. His insightful reading of the Gospels injected fresh life into them and he elaborated on many points from a Buddhist perspective.
He was also careful to not mix traditions, emphasizing that there are also irreconcilable differences between the traditions which is fine as long as everyone has a respect for one another’s traditions.
I was also impressed with how touched he was by the life of Jesus and considered him to be a Buddha of very high spiritual realization.
I would recommend this book to both Christians and Buddhists and I believe this is one of the most important books of our time. I would like to see more dialogue with more spiritual traditions but unfortunately not all are open to such dialogues
Thanks for reading The Good Heart book review, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.