Country Focus: Bhutan (Druk Yul in Dzongkha)
What Makes You Not a Buddhist
By Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
Published by Shambala, 2007.
Time period: The present
Notes: Born in Bhutan, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse is an internationally renowned Buddhist teacher. Khyentse has also written a primer on meditation called Not for Happiness: A Guide to the So-Called Preliminary Practices.
World Lit Up Rating:
(On a scale of 1-5, with 1 book = turned off and 5 books = lit up)
Since roughly three quarters of Bhutan’s citizens are Buddhist, I thought it only fitting that I read a book about that subject written by a popular Bhutanese spiritual leader. I found What Makes You Not a Buddhist to be an enlightening and relatively easy-to-understand explanation of Buddhism’s “four seals” (not to be confused with the Four Noble Truths): 1) All compounded things are impermanent; 2) All emotions are pain; 3) All things have no inherent existence; and 4) Nirvana is beyond concepts. I’m eager to re-read this one to gain a better understanding of these teachings.
But how does one detect buddhanature in the midst of so much ignorance, darkness and confusion? The first sign of hope for sailors lost at sea is to catch sight of a beam of light flashing through the stormy darkness. Navigating toward it, they come to the source of the light, the lighthouse. Love and compassion are like the light emanating from buddhanature. Initially buddhanature is a mere concept beyond our view, but if we generate love and compassion, we can eventually move toward it. It may be difficult to see the buddhanature in those who are lost in the darkness of greed, hate and ignorance. Their buddhanature is so distant, we might think that it is nonexistent. But even within the darkest and most violent people, there are flashes of love and compassion, however brief and faint. If these rare glimpses are attended to, and if energy is invested to move in the direction of the light, their buddhanature can be uncovered.
Bhutanese writers need to be translated! There are a couple of native authors below, but the rest were written by westerners.