Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book Review : Living Fully - Finding Joy in Every Breath

Title : Living Fully - Finding Joy in Every Breath

Author : Shyalpa Tenzin Ripoche

Publisher : New World Library

ISBN : 978-1-60868-075-7


Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche was born in Himalayas and was trained as a Lama from the age of four. Rinpoche received transmissions from all the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and he is a lineage holder of the Great Perfection (Dzogchen) tradition. Dzogchen is an ancient spiritual teaching developed in Tibet within Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The word 'Dzogchen' means 'total perfection' which refers to the true inherent nature of all beings. It is the knowledge that Tibetan masters have transmitted without being limited by sectarianism.


He begins by narrating a wonderful analogy of human life with that of one day stay in a hotel room where we go to relax but instead of relaxing for even a single moment, we start finding faults in that single room and spend those limited hours of the day in fixing up the things which bother us. I found this analogy very apt and clever.

He goes on to explain it as "Our most pressing challenge is to live fully. Our deepest aspiration is to experience the richness and fullness of our being in every moment. Fulfillment of worldly pleasures bring momentary feeling of euphoria and the lonely and empty feeling returns soon. We do not experience the pure fulfillment inherent in every moment and therefore, we tend to use sense pleasures as a temporary slave".


All the accumulated timeless wisdom shared by Shyalapa is very practical. He talks on many subjects - take the first steps by making the heart pure, approach every single thing sincerely, the indispensable human qualities that are absolutely required for a positive living, importance of consciously being in the moment, challenge of liberation from self, the law of Karma - creating action and facing the reaction, meditation, ocean of wisdom - our mind and then he wraps his teachings by highlighting the importance of having a master whose presence itself makes all sorts of confusions fade away from our lives. Very rightly he lays a lot of stress on the fact that knowing these teachings is just half the work done, what is absolutely necessary is to put them to practice and start experiencing the results. If the teachings fail to transition from theoretical plane to execution level no change will happen.


"In closing, I strongly urge you to practice. These teachings must be applied to your daily life - they must be put into practice - in order to have an effect and lead to true realization".


Shyalapa Ripoche's writing is simple and easy to follow but the only point at which many of the self-help books falter is the way the teachings are presented ,which seems like a list of do's and don'ts and unfortunately 'Living Fully' falls in the same category. There are not many anecdotes or incidents to explain the points or elaborate upon them. With all human challenges and character frailties, I would have preferred him to be discussing those and how an individual can surmount the hurdles through practically feasible diversion of thoughts or some such methods. But I guess for this kind of guidance Shyalapa recommends all to have a spiritual guide or guru in the life so that the journey of life becomes a guided tour rather than a directionless event.

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