There’s No Way But Up

The Buddhist Channel, Apr 29, 2010

A unique story of a young man’s spiritual journey
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
-- The most noticeable thing about There’s No Way But Up, the first book by David Lai, is the total honesty of this story.

In this no-holds-barred account of his spiritual journey, David takes us through a most unusual string of experiences, taking us from his childhood, to his disco days, to the doldrums of corporate life, and eventually, to the feet of his Lama, H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. 

As each of us step foot onto a spiritual path, we struggle with our individual hang-ups, attachments and neurosis. David makes this clear in his own account, where he speaks frequently and candidly throughout the book about his own personal struggles – his laziness, insecurities and total lack of confidence. What makes the story such a unique and quirky one, is the telling of how his Lama “forces” him out of this self-induced stupor and sloth.

David is put through his paces. His Lama keeps him awake into crazy early hours of the morning, then takes him jogging at dawn; David is pushed to write even though he’s never done it before, to tell stories and report news even though he hates talking. Through his story, we see what it means to overcome your weaknesses and the things you hate doing, and discover your potential for achieving much more.  

There’s No Way But Up, in all its honesty, reveals the many sides to this young practitioner – writer, Dharma student, son, friend and extraordinary example to spiritual seekers everywhere. He shows us that there’s a little bit of David in all of us – every time we’ve made an excuse not to do something, felt insecure, or lacked the confidence to go all the way with something. But on the flipside, he also shows us where we can go from there and what can be achieved – an open heart, tenacity and a sound, uplifting spiritual practice to take you to Enlightenment.

David’s story is intertwined with the biographies of his own teacher, Tsem Rinpoche, and Je Tsongkhapa, the 14th Century Buddhist saint who founded the Gelugpa school of Buddhism. Through these many avenues, the reader is given several perspectives of how a spiritual journey can be traversed and how each is unique to every individual.

Yes, it’s never an easy journey. David reveals what it really takes to get the ball rolling in our practice and to keep it going. What is extraordinary is seeing how someone so young becomes so committed to his practice, no matter what it takes. From slogging it as a sales executive, to rising as a published author and Liaison (personal assistant) to H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, David shows us that anything is possible if you have enough faith, determination and a big, sincere heart.

There’s No Way But Up is available for sale via the publisher Kechara Media & Publications or on