Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling?

A Westerner's Introduction and Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Practice

Non-Fiction - Self Help
276 Pages
Reviewed on 03/03/2016
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Author Biography

Lama Tsomo (Lama Sangak Yeshe Tsomo) brings her unique perspective to Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling? Born into a Midwestern Jewish household, she followed a path of spiritual inquiry that ultimately led to her ordination as one of the few American female lamas teaching Tibetan Buddhism.

She now speaks Tibetan fluently and has done extensive spiritual retreat both in the U.S. and abroad, deepening her understanding and mastery of Tibetan Buddhism under the tutelage of Tulku Sangak (sometimes spelled “Sang-Ngag”) Rinpoche, a primary holder of the Namchak lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and spiritual head of the Namchak Foundation. Rinpoche has asked Lama Tsomo to oversee the planning and construction of the Namchak Retreat Ranch, and she does so through her service on the board of the Namchak Foundation, an educational resource for a national learning community.

Her teaching has inspired American and international students, who appreciate her warm intelligence and her informal, often humorous style.

Lama Tsomo is both the mother of three grown children and a grandmother. She shares her mountain home with her two dogs, whom she describes as her “constant, loving companions throughout the entire, years-long journey of writing this book.”

    Book Review

Reviewed by Carla Trueheart for Readers' Favorite

Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling? is an enlightening and beautiful book that includes a memoir of sorts by author Lama Tsomo, thoughts on spiritual paths, and instruction on how to be happier and live a peaceful lifestyle. The book begins with the author’s own journey, her struggles, and how she became involved in Buddhist practices. That would be enough to tell a moving tale of life and choices, but she goes further and includes instruction on how this was accomplished. Through daily meditation, positive thinking, unique techniques, and the teachings of Rinpoche, she was able to live a happier, more peaceful life. Included in the book are meditation techniques, The Tibetan Nose Blow (it is not as weird as it sounds), and the practice of Tonglen, which teaches compassion and eases suffering. The book also includes tips for fitting meditation into our busy daily lives.

It’s interesting that I read this book when I did, because I just, by happenstance, began the study of Buddhist religions and Buddhist history. Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling? really helped me as a reader learn more about these old techniques and Buddhist teachings, such as meditation, dharma, karma, the Five Poisons, and the Three Jewels. In addition, author Lama Tsomo includes color illustrations, charts and guides, science tidbits, and a Question and Answer section. All of these additions were done with passion for the subject and even touches of humor. The author’s personality and her beliefs really came through, making this a delight to read and educational as well. I would recommend the book to those who want to learn more about Buddhism, meditation, or just how to live a more peaceful lifestyle.