Here is the main essence of the book:
“If you cannot accept that all compounded or fabricated things are impermanent, if you believe that there is some essential substance or concept that is permanent, then you are not a Buddhist. If you cannot accept that all emotions are pain, if you believe that actually some emotions are purely pleasurable, then you are not a Buddhist. If you cannot accept that all phenomena are illusory and empty, if you believe that certain things do exist inherently, then you are not a Buddhist. And if you think that enlightenment exists within the spheres of time, space, and power, then you are not a Buddhist.”
That in a nutshell was the essence of the book. That Buddhism is a path of acceptance of the four universal truths, it is path of cultivating wisdom to open our minds to experience this life fully.
Dzongsar really summed it up in the following few paragraphs which I have cut and paste from the book itself. Read and let it sink in!
“In our everyday lives we have this impulse to shield ourselves and others from the truth. We’ve become impervious to obvious signs of decay. We encourage ourselves by “not dwelling on it” and by employing positive affirmations. We celebrate our birthdays by blowing out candles, ignoring the fact that the extinguished candles could equally be seen as a reminder that we are a year closer to death. We celebrate the New Year with firecrackers and champagne, distracting ourselves from the face that the old year will never come back and the new year is filled with uncertainty – anything can happen.
Yet we are stuck there willingly, we don’t try to escape. Or if we do get fed up and think, Enough is enough, we may leave a relationship, only to start all over again with another person. We never grow weary of this cycle because we have hope and belief that the perfect soul mate or a flawless Shangri-la is out there waiting for us. When faced with daily irritations, our reflex is to think that we can make it right: this is all flexible, teeth are brushable, we can feel whole.
One day we will reach “happily ever after.” We are convinced of the notion of “resolution.” It’s as if everything that we’ve experience up until now, our whole lives to this moment, was a dress rehearsal. We believe our grand performance is yet to come, so we do not live for today.
For most people this endless managing, rearranging, upgrading is the definition of “living.” In reality, we are waiting for life to start.