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A Simple Monk: Writings on His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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9781577311751: A Simple Monk: Writings on His Holiness the Dalai Lama
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Lavish color photographs and wrap-around text celebrate the peripatetic spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Unidentified contributors present such perspectives as ocean of wisdom, the god in exile, and human rights and universal responsibility. There is no index or bibliography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Review:

The regal gift anthology A Simple Monk stands apart from the glut of books about the 14th Dalai Lama. Alison Wright's glorious photographs deliver a visual feast of the landscape and people of Tibet, as well as the face of the Dalai Lama--all of which contain an inspiring blend of serenity and joy against a backdrop of political suffering. Like the photography, the six essays educate readers while avoiding hyperbole and guru worship. One of the most compelling contributions comes from the Dalai Lama's mother, Diki Tsering, who speaks of her son with frank authority. Who would have thought that this peaceful monk was once a 1-year-old tyrant? When he toddled upon people quarreling, he'd pick up a stick and "try to beat them," according to his mother. In straightforward prose, she also recounts the many omens and coincidences that pointed to her son being the next Dalai Lama. Other essays include an interview conducted by Spalding Gray, in which the Dalai Lama speaks of his daily meditation practice (from 4 to 8 a.m.), how he overcomes fear of terrorism and flying, and how he resists the allure of bikini-clad women at the swimming pool. --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly:

This "visual biography" of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama blends gorgeous photography with text that is surprisingly sharp. Photographer Wright (The Spirit of Tibet), who has lived in India for the last decade chronicling the experiences of the Tibetan community in exile, relies heavily on vibrant colors such as red, orange and monastic saffron to bring these images to life. She offers illuminating portraits of the Dalai Lama himself, as well as cinema verit‚-style photographs of ordinary Tibetans at play and worship. Mercifully, she omits hackneyed images of His Holiness posing with this or that Hollywood celebrity. This restrained attitude toward the Buddha-loving glitterati is wittily reinforced in Orville Schell's essay, "Searching for the Dalai Lama: Dispirited Stars Find Absolution in Buddhism." Schell discusses Richard Gere's two decades as a Buddhist practitioner and then gives the slip to other stars such as Steven Seagal, who apparently sees Buddhism as just another vehicle for self-aggrandizement. As a whole, the book demonstrates a refreshing lack of awe for His Holiness, although it is always deeply respectful. An early chapter from Diki Tsering's book Dalai Lama, My Son presents a mother's surprisingly matter-of-fact, unsentimental reminiscences of the Tibetan leader's infancy and boyhood, while Columbia University professor Robert Thurman takes the Dalai Lama's mission into the next age with "Hope for the Third Millennium," excerpted from his Inner Revolution. For coffee-table fare, this is intelligent stuff. (Oct. 30)Forecast: Stunning full-color photography and well-chosen text make this 10" book stand out among the many titles about the Dalai Lama. Advertising in Buddhist and New Age publications should help move the book's 50,000-copy print run. It is a main selection of the One Spirit Book Club.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Morgan, Tom [Editor]; Wright, Alison [Photographer]; Thurman, Robert [Introduction];
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