By Dieter Glogowski

Bucher Publishing

£19.95, 384 pp

ISBN: 978-3-7658-1733-5

Reviewed by Dada Jyotirupananda

Buddhism: Eight Steps to Happiness

An unusual approach to Buddhism, indeed. This book is built around photographs and quotes. The photos tend to be of Buddhist settings in Asia, and the quotes of course tend to be from Buddhist sources.

However, Mr. Glogowski is seeking to put Buddhism in a larger framework, so that, as the publisher notes: he “is more concerned about the shared core values of world religions, than with what paths are taken to reach a similar goal.”

Thus the author includes quotes from a variety of sources, from many religions, philosophies and spiritual paths. The photos are also from both Buddhist and non-Buddhist settings, all of them from Asian countries, especially India, Tibet and Nepal.

The book has eight chapters, each describing one step of the Buddhist Eightfold Noble Path and each chapter starting with a symbol of that particular step, as well as a paragraph describing the relevance of that step.

So, in the chapter on equanimity, we read that all obstacles (such as death, suffering, ignorance, anger, etc.) are “symbols of liberation and signs of the mind’s ultimate victory, a victory that cannot be gained through worldly arms, but only through wisdom and equanimity.”

This chapter, as each of the chapters, is then followed by pages of striking photos, of people and places, with thoughtful quotes on each double page. For example, one double page has a photo which includes a Buddhist shrine in the foreground, overlooking a village in Nepal and a breathtaking mountain scene. The accompanying quote, from the Buddhist tradition, says: “What we have done in our lifetime makes us what we are at the time of death. And everything counts, really everything.”

In the chapter on Transformation one double-page shows us quite a different photo, of two young monks at a monastery in Tibet, playing with a game boy. The accompanying quote, by respected Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, says: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

When I first glanced at the book I thought that Glogowski, obviously an excellent photographer, had hit upon an easy way to produce a book. Take some photos and find some quotes and just put them together.

However, as I read the book more closely, I see that he must have gone to considerable effort to try to match quotes with the photos. And he must have travelled more than a considerable distance over a long period of time, to find such scenes.

For me, the reader, his effort is most gratifying. Though there are about 200 colour photographs, the book is obviously not meant to be seen as a great volume of material, but as a storehouse recording a great deal of wisdom.

Or as the Dalai Lama notes in the book, we need to replace our present day mad surge for more and more ‘things’ with an equal urge for quality of life.

This thought, one major theme of the book, is summarised by a quote of Phil Bosmans: “How I am is much more important than what I have.”