Despite Jesus' dramatic attempt to throw the moneychangers out of thetemple, successful businessmen have never had much difficulty squaringtheir wealth in this world with their faith in the next. Ascetic traditions like Buddhism, though, seem at first glance to be less compatible with money-grubbing pursuits.

But these days, what isn't possible? Enter "TheDiamond Cutter: The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business andYour Life," by Michael Roach, the first American to achieve the status ofgeshe, or master of Buddhist learning. After living in monasteries formany years, Roach was "encouraged" by his spiritual teacher to enter theworld of business. "Although the monastery was an ideal place for learningthe great ideas of Buddhist wisdom, a busy American office would providethe perfect 'laboratory' for testing those ideals in real life." Roach duly turned a tiny office in a diamond merchant's operation into one grossingmillions of dollars a year. "The Diamond Cutter" recounts his applicationof Buddhist principles to the marketplace, for the benefit of theentrepreneur who wants to "make a million and meditate too."

Tips range from business self-help palaver to weird riffs on karma. Rents too high? "It might seem an oversimplification to say that refusing a bed to Aunt Martha when she came into town over the holidays could have anything to do with the failure of your multimillion dollar branch to find a home," but it's no coincidence, either. The idea of nirvana is turned to uses Siddharta never foresaw: "A real estate deal like Andin International's acquisition of a largenine-story building on the West Side of Manhattan is a good example ofhidden potential, or what the Buddhists call 'emptiness.'" The meditation advice at the end of the book suggests what that Roach'sreaders really want is to attain enlightenment about being rich. It's never too hard to feel righteous about wealth, if one has it. To the degree that his readers have it, then Roach's book will succeed.

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