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Das, L. S. (1998). Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World. New York: Broadway Books.

Lama Surya is among the most trained lama in the Tibetan tradition. Lama’s works present a conclusive work to contemporary Buddhism spiritual seeker. The author conveys a fascinating literature about Buddhism. The teachings indicate that everyone possesses love, awareness, wisdom and power of Buddha from within though many a times we do not realize this. Surya elaborates how people can realize what they are, in order for them to live an enlightened, balanced and passionate life. The book covers the fundamental and key aspects of Buddhism traditions found in all schools of thought about Buddhism. The fundamental aspects covered in this book, therefore, include wisdom training, ethics and meditation training (Das, 1998).

Surya Lama shows how wisdom takes its course during the process of training. Buddhism teaches people to see reality as it is. Therefore, one realizes the true self he or she is. Self awakening comes from establishing a distinct vision, knowledge, and understanding from within. Ethics training involves developing virtues, compassion and self-discipline in how we act. Finally, meditation among the Buddha requires an individual to concentrate, practice mind awareness, and being aware of present.

The book also serves as an insight to people who do not have deep knowledge of Buddhism. Surya Lama demonstrates that Buddhism is not dead in the West. It is still relevant as it was 2,500 years ago. Surya Lama brings out the best of meditation for those who are new to the religion. This encourages the reader to read, understand and embrace the teachings. He encourages us to be independent.

This masterpiece is a rich source of enlightenment in Buddhism. The book may prove to be a persisting classic on the teachings of Buddhism. The author receives a credit for succinctly presenting his work to the Western Buddhists. The book can serve as a spiritual handbook for Buddhists. The golden rules Surya captures in the book rise above religious affiliations in appealing to everyone. He brings the fundamental ideas and teachings of Buddhism. The essentials of the book focus on the individual. People should be responsible for their own ideas and actions. This enables everyone to be passionate, kind and graceful.

Surya Lama employs the use of stories to present spiritual activities and meditations. This approach makes the book lively for readers. The book captures the reader’s attention by step-to-step guide in the four T’s of Buddhism. The step-to-step approach helps the readers to understand Buddhism and stop misinterpretations. This book also enables the readers to understand Buddhism without much difficulty. This text can be compared to those teachings of Dalai Lama.

Conversely, Surya Lama wrote in the 21st century, but his work reflects the wisdom of the old times. He does not consider the changing times in spiritual and religious practices. Critics argue that his long life under shelter of Buddhism prevented him from seeing the reality and wisdom of the modern world. The issue of need, greed and the anecdote of the monk who proves a point with his backside demonstrate deep wisdom, which is old and cannot be applied in the modern world. We all know that ethics, mediation and wisdom trainings have no step-to-step formula. However, Surya leads people to believe that these steps should lead them live in the present and now. This approach may not make his work permeate the minds of the modern Western people. This is because integrating ancient teachings with modern life may prove a tedious task. Surya Lama introduces the teaching of Buddhism to his readers. However, majority find the Tibetan teachings to be oriental and have no relevance in the lives of the West. The book does not explicitly capture the issues of reincarnation. He only mentions it in passing.

Telushkin, J. (1991). Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History. New York: William Morrow.

This book makes the reader to imagine what really makes one a Jew. Joseph Telushkin enables the readers to find answers to such fundamental questions. This book serves an essential reference to those who want to know more about Judaism and Jewish traditions, culture, life and religion. The author demonstrates a deep understanding of the Jewish Bible, ethics, holocaust and anti-Semitism. Joseph knows what to capture and where to find it. He reflects the life of Jews across the world and shows a connection to Zionism. We experience the Jewish state and its politics, and also the necessity of religious traditions and their practices of day-today life. We get everything about Jewish from this indispensable text (Telushkin, 1991).

Joseph makes his book valuable by combining the traditional aspects of Jewish study and the secular study. We credit him for treating all the major branches of Judaism fairly. These are conservative, Orthodox and Reformists. The books, therefore, serves as a vital source of reference for those who want to understand Judaism. The use of simple language makes the text suitable for wide readership. Joseph compresses his works and deliver significant amount of information without wastages of words. He employs the use of informative and engaging language. This author demonstrates the love for Judaism through his writings. Joseph is able to deliver a quality book because he is using both his deep academic knowledge and his experience as a teacher and preacher. This way, he can present captivating historical and biblical anecdotes to engage his readers.

Joseph also shows that the Jewish tradition is complex and challenging. He writes from the modern perspectives and examines the challenges posed to different religions. As the author spins his liberal views on reforms, we are able to see how he combines unconnected, modern philosophy and secular approaches to Jewish traditions. As the book forms part of readers life, they are able to experience and celebrate diversity in Jewish and Judaism.

Critics argue that this book has elements of inflammatory statements concerning other religions. The author claims that Muslims built their temples on ruins of other religious temples. Joseph also portrays anti Zionists as people who hate themselves. At the same time he describes anti Zionist Gentiles as anti-Semitic. These terms might be appropriate for his work, but not every reader welcomes them. Making generalization makes the author biased against other religions, which have their different values and religious traditions.

On the other hand, this book does not cover some of the vital aspects of the Jews. For example, the book fails to capture Jews top achievers in other fields such as philosophy, science and other complex disciplines. This is where the section presenting history fails. The theodicy section presents the readers with valuable information on atheisms and supernatural practices, yet it fails to include transnaturalism practices. Surya Lama and Joseph fail to critically analyze the concept of after-life. We have the Jewish who believed in after-life. Joseph fails to clearly draw a distinction between resurrection and the concept of reincarnation. At the same time, he presents some weak arguments especially in reconstruction of Judaism. Apart from this, he completely ignores the area of humanistic Judaism.

Joseph and Surya both go deep into their different religions and bring forth the intricate easy to follow steps and guides in their religious aspects. The two authors treat their religions carefully enough to enable even those who do not subscribe to their religions to identify with them. The books are, therefore, a must read for anybody studying both religions in their ancient and modern times.

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