The short, pithy quotations and the longer excerpts in this volume in the Modern Spiritual Masters series have been selected by Thomas A. Forsthoefel, chair of the religion department at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania. The 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso), the spiritual leader of Tibet, has lived in exile since 1959. Since then he has traveled the world teaching about wisdom, compassion, and kindness. He has given public addresses to large audiences, written bestselling books, brought together conferences on science and religion, and talked with political leaders and cultural movers and shakers of all stripes. He is very popular and known for the aura of light and positive healing energy he brings to those in his presence. In the introduction, Forsthoefel has this to say about his religion and its appeal in the West:

"Buddhism is eminently rational, psychological, and therapeutic. It squarely invests the burden of spiritual growth and progress onto the 'hearer.' In this, we see a high demand for personal accountability and responsibility matched with a concomitant resistance to any external authority or power to determine one's spiritual trajectory. Such starting points, I would suggest, may be particularly compelling to those unmoored or estranged by traditional religious or cultural forms."

Forsthoefel covers some of the main features of the Buddhist path including the teaching of no-soul, emptiness, cause and effect, and more. This entire collection of writings by the Dalai Lama is divided into four sections: wisdom, morality, meditation, and religions and the world. Here is a sampler of quotations:

On Rununication
" 'Renunciation' does not refer to the act of giving up all our possessions, but rather to a state of mind. As long as our minds continue to be driven by ignorance, there is no room for lasting happiness, and we remain susceptible to problem after problem. To cut through this cycle, we need to understand the nature of this suffering of conditioned existence and cultivate a strong wish to gain freedom from it. This is true renunciation."

On Letting Go
"If you know that someone is speaking badly of you behind your back, and if you react to that negativity with a feeling of hurt or anger, then you yourself destroy your own peace of mind. One's pain is one's own creation. There is a Tibetan expression that one should treat such things as if they were wind behind one's ear. In other words, just brush it aside."

On Enemies
"When we are faced with an enemy, a person or group of people wishing us harm, we can view this as an opportunity to develop patience and tolerance. We need these qualities; they are useful to us. And the only occasion we have to develop them is when we are challenged by an enemy. So, from this point of view, our enemy is our guru, our teacher. Irrespective of motivation, from our point of view enemies are very beneficial, a blessing."

On Death
"For us Buddhists, death is something very natural, a phenomenon that is part of the cycle of existence, samsara. Death is not an ending. It is something very familiar for us; we almost instinctively accept it, and we do not need to fear it. I imagine dying to be something like exchanging worn out clothes for new ones. This could be something wonderful."

On Peace
"When, as individuals, we disarm ourselves internally — through countering our negative thoughts and emotions and cultivating positive qualities — we create the conditions for external disarmament. Indeed, genuine, lasting peace will only be possible as a result of each of us making an effort internally. Afflictive emotion is the oxygen of conflict."