Despite Jesus' dramatic attempt to throw the moneychangers out of the temple, successful businessmen have never had much difficulty squaring their 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 "The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business and Your Life," by Michael Roach, the first American to achieve the status of geshe, or master of Buddhist learning. After living in monasteries for many years, Roach was "encouraged" by his spiritual teacher to enter the world of business. "Although the monastery was an ideal place for learning the great ideas of Buddhist wisdom, a busy American office would provide the perfect 'laboratory' for testing those ideals in real life." Roach duly turned a tiny office in a diamond merchant's operation into one grossing millions of dollars a year. "The Diamond Cutter" recounts his application of Buddhist principles to the marketplace, for the benefit of the entrepreneur 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 large nine-story building on the West Side of Manhattan is a good example of hidden potential, or what the Buddhists call 'emptiness.'" The meditation advice at the end of the book suggests what that Roach's readers 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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