The Open Road — Pico Iyer

The fourteenth Dalai Lama carries a toothbrush with him everywhere he goes and has been known to take it out and start brushing on stage, during meetings with world leaders. Any where. The man has to have clean teeth. Also: he is a premium person. This study of the Dalai Lama’s life is a systematic one. Iyer’s chapter at the end of the book explaining his reading and research is pretty long. This was one of the most important extracts for me:

Of course we could win small victories against the Chinese, he was essentially saying to young Tibetans, as guerrillas do in Northern Ireland and Spain and Peru; but in the long term we would be losers, by squandering the respect of the world and sparking the rage of a nation two hundred times more populous than our own. Of course we can see the Chinese as enemies, but if we do so, we are saying, in effect, that we are going to spend all our lives in the midst of enemy forces; the better solution is to change how we think of the situation, perhaps by seeing that our real enemies are our own habitual tendencies toward thinking in terms of enemies. We can always see the decisive effects of action; but what underlies action, in the way of viewpoint and motivation and feeling, is where the real change has to come.

Pretty great stuff.