Why Did I Read This?
On 16 July 2015, I attended a talk in Singapore by the author, Geshe Michael Roach. During the first half of the talk, it felt that he was still warming up the really shy and reserved audience in the auditorium. So while my business partners who attended the talk with me left during the intermission, something in me insisted that I stay. And I’m glad I did.
Together with my brother, we sat through the second half of the talk and finally he shared this mind-boggling but extremely intriguing concept he called “The Pen,” which explains a concept known as emptiness, illustrating how a pen becomes a pen, and similarly, how everything in our world—all the people and things around us—become what they are.
I was left extremely unsettled after the talk and it opened the floodgates of unresolved philosophical questions I’ve had since my university days in theatre studies. I needed answers and within a month, I joined a book club in Singapore. And while reading and discussing the content of this book, I found my answers.
What’s The Book About?
“The now classic work on Buddhism and business from the foremost American teacher of Tibetan Buddhism– reissued in a tenth anniversary edition with compelling case studies that showcase its principles in action around the globe.
With a unique combination of ancient and contemporary wisdom from Tibetan Buddhism, THE DIAMOND CUTTER presents readers with empowering strategies for success in their personal and professional lives.
The book is presented in three layers. The first is a translation of The Diamond Sutra, an ancient text of conversations between the Buddha and his close disciple, Subhuti. The second contains quotes from some of the best commentaries in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. And the third layer, the main text, is the practical application of Buddhist philosophies to the world of business, based upon Geshe Michael Roach’s seventeen-years of experience as an employee of the Andin International Diamond Corporation, a company that grew during his tenure from four employees to a world leader in the jewelry industry.
Roach’s easy style and spiritual understanding make THE DIAMOND CUTTER an invaluable source of timeless wisdom for those familiar or unfamiliar with Tibetan Buddhism. His focus on practical personal and business applications has resonated with and changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals the world over since its original publication.”
To me, this book contains strategies to achieve financial and personal success from the ancient Tibetan text.
While it’s categorized under “Religion—Buddhism,” it’s not preachy at all. Not at all an attempt to convert you into a Buddhist.
Only because the author is a Buddhist monk, but he distilled the wisdom from the ancient literature to apply in a modern and universal way—as an assignment by his teacher, he—a Buddhist monk—was tasked to start a diamond business in New York City, and his business plan?
The Diamond Cutter Sutra. Hence, he distilled the principles for application in the modern world and created an unprecedented success story.
And this book unfolds his entire diamond business story using the principles and strategies from the ancient text.
My 3 Biggest Takeaways
Biggest Takeaway #1
Most of us struggle with money, not just the amount, but our relationship with it. But The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business And Your Life tells us, “In Buddhism though it is not the money which is in itself wrong; in fact, a person with greater resources can do much more good in the world than one without. The question rather is how we make the money; whether we understand where it comes from and how to make it continue to come; and whether we keep a healthy attitude about the money.” We are supposed to make money, but “in a clean and honest way.” And the book kept repeating the idea of “understanding where it comes from”—as for money, it’s maintaining a generous state of mind.
Biggest Takeaway #2
Going deeper with understanding where things come from, Geshe Michael Roach exemplified the meaning of emptiness, using different business examples. But in gist, certain things appear good to some, and appears bad to others—it is the same thing but it depends on who’s looking. There’s “no innate goodness or badness” in anything—“it has no such quality in and of itself, it is empty of any such quality.” As with any bad or good experience we have, any challenging problem, any person we like or dislike, “They have no such quality within themselves … they are, rather, like blank screens, neutral, and different people see different things in them.”
Biggest Takeaway #3
But why do we see different things in the same situation or person? Geshe Michael Roach then introduces the idea of mental imprints. So basically, our mind is like the video camera, and what we see, hear and etc and the lenses, and our intention—“to what you want to happen, and why”, determines the quality of the recording. “Think of the mind as a very sensitive piece of putty. Whenever it gets exposed to anything, that thing makes an imprint on the putty.” Of course this putty is a metaphor. And the recording gets made when we collect the imprints over time. Then of course there are other factors such as our emotions, that determine the strength of the imprint.
Should You Read This?
If you’ve had enough of tactics and gimmicks and you’re ready to dive deep into The Diamond Cutter; principles and strategies distilled from the ancient text from the east.
For the action-takers, especially those who are also into a fair bit of story-telling, with a keen sense of curiosity to learn something new (as to how the secretive diamond industry works), The Diamond Cutter is a masterpiece. Roach skilfully weaves between entertaining story-telling and insightful how-to.
Definitely not a light read, one where you skim through, laugh at witty punchlines or buy time while you’re on the bus or train.
But it’s one read that will either draw you all in, get you thinking, contemplating and “digesting” before you prepare your brain space for the next chapter. One read that will either lose you, if you get too hung up in the diamond industry jargon or depth of the language, or one, if you have what it takes to read, from cover to cover, potentially transform life as you knew it.
A shot at life transformation? A new way to manage your business and life, or rather, create the success you’ve always dreamt of without the frills.
Buy or Borrow?
Buy a copy, look for the nearest The Diamond Cutter book club and join it, or, if you can’t find one near you, start one.
Thanks for reading and supporting my challenge!