A longtime professor of religion at Mary Washington College, Kurt Leidecker published a wealth of insightful books and scholarly essays on world religion during his life. He first arrived in the United States at the age of nineteen, in 1921, and became a U.S. citizen in 1927, earning his bachelor's and master's degrees from Oberlin College and his doctorate from the University of Chicago. In 1948, he came to Fredericksburg, becoming a professor of philosophy at Mary Washington College and beginning the long tradition of Asian studies that would enrich the institution. Much of the body of scholarly work he produced was focused on analyzing Buddhism, and many of his essays compare the principles of Buddhism to Western religion and philosophical thought. Throughout his life, he strived to promote a greater cultural understanding between the United States and Asian countries.
I decided to read this book because I’ve always been interested in the Dalai Lama. I really thought The Art of Happiness would be more focused on understanding Buddhist principles; instead, it’s a peculiar mix of Eastern religion meets Western medicine.
Co-author Dr. Howard Cutler is a psychiatrist with a private practice in Phoenix, and the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist monk. It’s amusing to see two very different approaches to achieving happiness. The Dalai Lama’s approach to achieving happiness is more of a holistic, spiritual system that focuses on improving oneself using the power of the mind. Dr. Howard Cutler takes more of a back-seat approach in which he listens to the Dalai Lama’s suggestions and gives input about modern psychological approaches used in the United States.