Sometimes books come just at the right time. When the Chocolate Runs Out by Lama Yeshe was given to me as a ‘refuge‘ gift. Yes, I’m now officially a Buddhist.
When the Chocolate Runs Out, by Lama Thubten Yeshe is the kind of book we’ve come to expect from Buddhist spiritual teachers: deep practical psychology, ethics and meditation all included. Lama Yeshe (died 1984 unfortunately) taught in a style that was both faithful to his Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhist heritage and true to the issues his audience was facing.
This book doesn’t just have a funny title, it starts with a funny first chapter title as well: ‘Salvation through chocolate’. As a chocoholic I can really appreciate the approach. Suitably enough I got the book WITH a bar of chocolate… Of course it ran out before I took the opportunity to actually read the book.
From my perspective the trouble with chocolate isn’t so much that it runs out, but that the temptation to buy it is always there. But, as Lama Yeshe reminds us, that’s blaming the circumstances instead of facing up to my own issues.
Let me quote the first sentences to make the strength of Lama Yeshe’s style clear:
We love chocolate. Perhaps so much so that on some level we may believe, “As long as I have chocolate, I’ll be happy.” This is the power of attachment at work. And based on this attachment, we create a chocolate-based philosophy and order our life prioritizing chocolate. But sometimes, we can’t get our hands on any chocolate. And when the chocolate disappears, we get nervous, upset: “Oh no! Now I’m unhappy!” But of course it’s not the absence of chocolate that’s making us unhappy; it’s our fixed ideas, and our misunderstanding the nature of chocolate. (When the Chocolate Runs Out, p. 1)
Throughout the book pithy sayings are bolded. For instance:
Chocolate comes, chocolate goes, chocolate disappears. (When the Chocolate Runs Out, p. 2)
The sense world alone cannot satisfy the human mind. (When the Chocolate Runs Out, p. 5)
Wherever you go, your dissatisfied mind is still there. (When the Chocolate Runs Out, p. 7)
Meditation explodes the belief that satisfaction depends on circumstances (When the Chocolate Runs Out, p. 8)
The main message of the book is that we can use meditation to face up to our problems, deal with our needs, face up to our issues. I felt it was a good reminder and tried it on some of the things I run into these days. And as I knew it might, it worked. It’s unfortunate that I still need the reminder though. Consciousness is a very powerful thing that can at the very least take the edge off any issue, and perhaps solve them, though I would not know about that myself.
If you think practicing the Dharma means simply learning new ideas, you’d be better off sucking a piece of candy. (When the Chocolate Runs Out, p. 37)
But if you think it’s all Buddhist psychology in this book, you’d be mistaken. There is a chapter on karma, one on Emptiness (Buddhist philosophy practically applied), true charity, taking refuge, and two chapters on specific Buddhist meditation techniques. And yes, there’s advice on how to deal with anger, our ego, qualities of the mind, effort and expectation and more.
All in all: I would really recommend this book to anybody who is serious about the Buddhist path, and it also makes a great gift (that title alone) with or without chocolate.
- When the Chocolate Runs Out, Lama Thubten Yeshe
- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: Wisdom Publications (June 21, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0861712692
- ISBN-13: 978-0861712694
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.6 x 0.7 inches