My Spiritual Autobiography
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Deftly compiled and annotated (occasionally at length) by his long-standing interpreter Sofia Stril-Rever, this spiritual autobiography is a worthy collection of the Dalai Lama’s speeches, public musings, and other texts.
Material dates from the 1960s to the late 1990s, and is collated through the three phases of His Holiness’s life, as a human being, as a monk, and as the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Despite the raw history of Tibetan Buddhism in the mid twentieth century: the brutal Chinese invasion in 1949, the massacre of thousands of Tibetans during the Lhasa insurrection of 1959, and the cultural attacks of the Red Guards from 1966 to 1979, His Holiness feels no anger. Rather, he desires Tibetan autonomy, and will consider renouncing claims of complete independence to achieve this. Despite his concern that resettlement of large numbers of Han Chinese in Tibet has made Tibetans a minority in their own country, and his concern that with Chinese control comes environmental, cultural, and spiritual degradation, the Dalai Lama still calls the Chinese his brothers and sisters. This reveals his inner compassion, his spiritual core.
His Holiness is a prodigious writer. With dozens of books about spirituality and philosophy under his belt, it is difficult to swallow the publisher’s claim that this one is the first “autobiography of His Holiness’ spiritual life”. What it is, however, is a succinct chronicle of the Dalai Lama’s life, as a child in Tibet to a leader in exile; an inspirational introduction to his inner peace as a Buddhist monk; and a meditation on things that could be done to right past wrongs.
Reviewed December 2010