The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus His Holiness the Dalai Lama Wisdom Publications: Boston, 1996. 207 pp., $24.00 (hardcover).
Another issue for readers is the designation of Father Laurence’s remarks on the Gospel passages as the Christian context. While he manages to convey a wealth of good biblical scholarship and spiritual insight within a few pages, there are times when his stance within a particular tradition of Roman Catholic contemplative Christianity jars. He tends to psychologize certain passages with references to the “ego” or human “defenses,” and downplays the inscrutability or multi-valency of some of the texts, such as in his description of the “pure in heart.” Thupten Jinpa, on the other hand, wisely focuses his “Buddhist Context” on a description of “the Dalai Lama’s own spiritual world, the world of Tibetan Buddhism.”
These weaknesses aside, the book beautifully demonstrates and generates religious dialogue. Besides the core of the book—the Dalai Lama’s readings—the introductory material, conversations among participants, glossaries of Buddhist and Christian terms, and the contextual essays make it a work that would facilitate study by an ecumenical group. The Good Heart not only describes what was said at the conference, but also conveys the context of shared meditation, common meals, and fellowship that made up the experience of the seminar. In this way, it models the elements of a meaningful interfaith dialogue, one that might fulfill the vision shared by the Dalai Lama and John Main at their first meeting. As the Dalai Lama said at the opening of the seminar:
I believe the purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts….The greater our awareness is regarding the value and effectiveness of other traditions, then the deeper will be our respect and reverence for other religions.
The Good Heart establishes a foundation for just such temples of compassion.
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