Book Review: When the Chocolate Runs Out by Lama Yeshe

When the Chocolate Runs Out is a handsome little book from Wisdom Publications that contains all of Lama Yeshe’s central themes. The style is definitely Lama Yeshe’s, his directness and playful sense of humor come through clearly. He warns about the danger of fantasizing about Enlightenment but not making an effort on the path, “If you have no method, no key to open the storehouse of wisdom, no way to bring the Dharma into your everyday life, you’d be better off with Coca-Cola. At least that quenches your thirst.”

The book contain subjects for analytical meditation such as karma as well as advice on integrating Dharma into daily life. The chapter “The Meaning of Emptiness” is a beautiful presentation of how and why understanding emptiness is not a dry intellectual exercise but rather a way to open a window onto our own minds and hence to self-discovery. With characteristic directness, Lama Yeshe said, “The key during both life and death, is to recognize illusions as illusions, projections as projections, and fantasies as fantasies. In this way we become free”. The last two chapters, “How to Meditate”, and “An Inner Revolution” are Lama Yeshe’s classic instructions on the practice of meditation and equalizing and exchanging self with others.

The editors, Nick Ribush and Josh Bartok, present the text as a series of short paragraphs that are almost verse-like in their density. Each passage is a meditation topic in itself, so it’s meant to be enjoyed slowly, sentence by sentence. Better yet, read a short passage at the end of the day together with a friend.

Lama Yeshe, edited by Nick Ribush and Josh Bartok. When the Chocolate Runs Out. Wisdom Publications: Boston. 2011