Beyond Religion

Ethics for a Whole World
by Dalai Lama | 208 pages

I got this book after Ray Dalio strongly recommended it in Principles. It’s always a joy to read the words of a wise master. The Dalai Lama’s incredible thoughtfulness, humility, and grounded wisdom is inspiring. Big Ideas we explore include how to rethink secularism and create an ethics for a whole world, moving from knowing to doing, emotions (helpful or not vs. feel good or bad), contentment (material vs. mental), plus some meditation tips.


“Today, however, any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate. What we need today is an approach to ethics which makes no recourse to religion and can be equally acceptable to those with faith and those without: a secular ethics. …

In view of this, I am of the first opinion that we have within our grasp a way, and a means, to ground inner values without contradicting any religion and yet, crucially, without depending on religion. The development and practice of this new vision of ethics is what I propose to elaborate in the course of this book. It is my hope that doing so will help to promote understanding of the need for ethical awareness and inner values in this age of excessive materialism.

At the outset I should make it clear that my intention is not to dictate moral values. Doing that would be of no benefit. To try to impose moral principles from outside, to impose them, as it were, by command, can never be effective. Instead, I call for each of us to come to our own understanding of the importance of inner values. For it is these inner values which are the source of both an ethically harmonious world and the individual peace of mind, confidence, and happiness we all seek. Of course, all the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness, can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ Dalai Lama from Beyond Religion

Although I’ve created hundreds of Notes (including many by Thich Nhat Hanh, another contemporary Buddhist master), this is our first Note on one of the Dalai Lama’s books.

I got this book after Ray Dalio strongly recommended it in Principles. (I also featured The Hero with a Thousand Faces based off of Dalio’s equally strong recommendation. As a reminder for those of you who wonder how I decide which books to feature: In addition to your wonderful recommendations, I take strong recs from other people I admire very seriously. Throw in Alexandra’s book list and I’m never in need of great titles! :)

It’s always a joy to read the words of a wise master. The Dalai Lama’s incredible thoughtfulness, humility, and grounded wisdom is inspiring.

If you’re looking for insight on how to help create a more ethical world with a universal set of ethical guidelines, I think you’ll love the book. (Get a copy here.)

As always, the book is packed with Big Ideas. I’m excited to share a few of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

Unlock the full Optimize Experience

Get instant access to a ton of wisdom. Optimize every facet of your life. Actualize your potential.

Start free trial

About the author

Authors

Dalai Lama

The fourteenth leader in a line of Buddhist spiritual and political leaders of Tibet.