Saturday, September 22, 2007

How to See Yourself as You Really Are (The Dalai Lama)

A few weeks ago, we walked to the library to pick up the books I had on hold. Once inside, I noticed that all the hold books were behind the librarian's counter, meaning I had to talk to an actual person to get my books, and that this actual person would check out my books for me, looking over the crazy assortment of books I've chosen (a book on cheaters in baseball and one by the Dalai Lama? Really?) and judge me. I've spent the last two years in California, where I didn't interact with one single person to get my library books. I searched for them online, requested them online, and then in the library I picked up my books from an unguarded hold shelf, and used a self-service checkout machine. No one needed to know about the Bollywood dance workout DVD I checked out. No one.

But so far, after two trips of what will become many, this actual personal interaction hasn't been bad at all, which is good, as they're going to see a lot of me, given my library book habit. And really, it's the Wisconsin Public Library's system's own fault I'm hoarding their books right now---I have a lengthy list of books to read, many of which I couldn't find in the San Jose system, and the Wisconsin system seems to have them all.

How to See Yourself as You Really Are
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (oh that the poor Library of Congress worker who got stuck working on the cip data for this book. I can see her saying, the official author name is what?) is one of the books on my list, probably jotted down after reading an article in some issue of Body + Soul magazine. I thought, if you want to know the secrets of true happiness, who else would you go to but the Dalai Lama, himself?

It turns out that the Dalai Lama and I are two very different people. And we live in two very different worlds. The book is translated and it reads like it is, so much so, that I had a hard time connecting to it. Most of the language was abstract, even in the examples given, and one example he kept mentioning was sewing (I have no idea why), and how sewing may seem to be a beneficial task, but it may keep you from seeing yourself as you really are. (Okay, he didn't say it that way, but he did point it out as a form of procrastination---which in my life, is usually the opposite case. Like right now? I'm writing this review, procrastinating from the sewing I need to do!)

I don't need a hipster version of the book, or it dumbed down, but I do need a version that applies more to my life as it really is. I'm sure the Dalai Lama and his translator get his message across to many people, but in the end, the book made me feel like I would never really see myself as I really am, according to the Dalai Lama, because I do not speak the language to get there. But I'll try some other books that may be more on my level and report back again. In the mean time, if you see me, let me know.


Unknown said...

Stumbled into the Oro Valley Public Library and the local farmer's market (only a few steps away from each other) just yesterday. Library was just great. I checked out books by Alice Waters, a Playboy book on Shel Silverstein, a book about doping in bicycle racing, and a zen book about time by Somebody Unpronounceable Roshi. Maybe it's genetic. Am somehow irresistibly attracted to these Buddhist tracts, and here and there find something that connects, but not always.

Farmers market was fine, except that I am still nursing a somewhat unsettled gut, probably the after effects of some salsa I bought from a big Mexican lady. She had salsas labeled "Mild," "Moderate," and "Stupid Hot." Guess which one I bought.

Anonymous said...

The book how to see yourself as you really are is a bit confusing, no doubt. In fact, there are a lot of things in it that I personally found to be vague or had a lack of clarification. My personal opinion is that it should be called "How to exist the way you really are, and understand this existence" because the title is a bit misleading. A MUCH MUCH easier book to read if you want to grasp what he's saying is a book called "Wake Up Now" by Stephan Bodian. Basically what he's saying is that your five senses perceive the present moment and anything else is a mental construction. There is no seperate self who you take yourself to be, because it is merely a mental construction that has no validity. It has no validity because you do not inherently exist. You (as well as EVERYTHING ELSE) are like a ship who's parts are being replaced one by one. So by the time all of the parts are replaced, is it still the same ship? NO! Here's a another good way to understand this concept: You use the word "I" to refer to yourself. But when you use the word "I" what exactly are you refering to? You would probably say mind and body (the sum of your being). But when you think about it deeper, don't you take your mind and body to also belong this "I"? But what is there other than mind and body? You are the welcoming space that allows reality to reveal itself, not a seperate self to which you take yourself to be. Anyways, good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

try "Nothing special. Living Zen" from Charlotte Joko Beck.
I think you would like it because it uses more concrete and less abstract examples. It is quite different from the one of his holiness but it's like two paths that lead to the same place.