Picture of Great Ideas of the East, translated by Geshe Michael Roach and Ben Kramer

Great Ideas of the East, translated by Geshe Michael Roach and Ben Kramer

by Choney Lama, Drakpa Shedrup (1675-1748)

Every small group of people, on every small patch of land on this huge planet, has a different belief system.  This system determines everything about how those particular people run their lives, down to how they cut their hair, and what clothes they wear.  And by this belief system, people everywhere do their very best to be happy & prosperous.

Some belief systems work better than others, when measured by how much happiness or prosperity they produce.  It seems for example that the belief system of modern medicine has led people to have longer lives than they did, say, a few hundred years ago.

It’s a well-known fact that people who travel more learn more things from the places they travel to, than people who sit at home.  Almost every one of us can say that we have discovered some new thing that is very useful or very tasty from someplace else that we have traveled to—even when just a few miles away from our home.

Encountering new belief systems is just like encountering new foods over the length of our life.  Sometimes we go on vacation to another country—or even just to another part of our own country—and we go to a restaurant (maybe we usually cook at home) and discover a dish that fits us perfectly.  And then that dish becomes a family favorite; and we learn to make it at home; and our kids grow up and tell their friends, “Try this—my Mom & Dad used to make it for us.”

Or maybe in that foreign restaurant we try a new dish and it’s simply terrible.  Not something we would like to incorporate into our family’s culinary belief system. 

Now imagine a special restaurant that they build right next door to where you live, and you can just step over there any time of the night or day and try out new dishes.  Ah!  Now that’s better!  Instant chances to experiment, and enlarge the variety of our family’s palate.  More … happiness


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