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Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  612 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
In this thoughtful and inspiring memoir, the author of the New York Times bestsellers Reviving Ophelia, The Shelter of Each Other, and Another Country explores her personal search for understanding, tranquility, and respect through her work as a psychologist and seeker.

“There are three kinds of secrets,” Mary Pipher says in Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 19th 2009 by Riverhead Hardcover
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"We all share similar journeys.We live through childhoods filled with ups and downs. We share houses with people who both love us and make us miserable. We pass developmental milestones,build identities and see them change. We fail miserably and we accomplish important goals. We make the best of it.We take turns being the afflicted and the comforter. We experience a crises and realize our old ways are not working. We stumble around lost and unhappy,only to see the light,find our own path and mov ...more
Julie Ehlers
Jun 17, 2010 Julie Ehlers rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tossed-aside
This memoir is ostensibly about Mary Pipher's experience of achieving success as an author (with her book Reviving Ophelia), but finding she couldn't handle it and having a meltdown, and then reaching a kind of peace through Buddhist practice (hence the title).

Unfortunately, the majority of the book is not about that at all. Instead, we find out all about her family: the full story of her parents' lives up until Pipher is born (and after), as well as descriptions of Pipher's grandparents and all
Sometimes the right book just shows up when you need it most. That is the case with this book for me. I don't have a lot in common with Pipher, but this book resonates with me.

In 2002, Pipher fell into a deep depression. She had to learn about herself and how to care for herself. This is an important part of life for all people, I think. Although all older people don't fall into depression, I believe many of us start to examine our lives.

Have we been successful? What is success? Have we left a
May 02, 2009 Catherine rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, jenns, spirit
It's a strange, discomfiting, wondrous thing to pick up a book by someone else - someone, in this case, twenty-three years old than yourself - and see so much of your life in what they write.

The commonalities in mine and Mary Pipher's life are painful ones - different childhoods, but similar lessons learned; similar impulses internalized; similar coping strategies adopted as a means to try and make the world make sense and to make things stop hurting. We - at different life points - both melted
Jonna Higgins-Freese
As Mary Pipher says of her own favorite authors, I would enjoy a ride to the recycling center with her. But this book wasn't my favorite. I like the idea of the worst Buddhist, but it wasn't much about Buddhism or even meditation practice. It was mostly a memoir. I did appreciate her candid sharing of the ways in which her fame and book tours "undid" her, and how she recovered from that.

Favorite passages: "How could [my writing] help readers feel stronger, calmer, and more optimistic? How could
Nov 30, 2009 Deborah rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
This book is disappointing - Pipher's background and family are compelling, but the book is a chronicle and not much more (I'm on the last CD, so think my opinion is set). There are some helpful insights, but I'd rather read or hear Sylvia Boorstein for a lively, humorous style that shares insights similarly but with more entertainment value. The reader, Kymberly Dakin, was annoying - many mispronounced words and an irritating voice quality. A day or two later, I'm revising my thoughts a bit, re ...more
Miller Payton
Jul 31, 2012 Miller Payton rated it did not like it
I chose this book thinking that it was about Buddhism, but it's really Pipher's life story filled with bouts of depression and self-doubt. I can appreciate her for acknowledging that her story is average and not one of many twists. I also appreciate her solid writing style not adorned with lots of fluffy metaphors and such. But it wasn't what I wanted and I must admit that skimmed most of the book because the details started to bore me.
Oct 05, 2009 Arianna rated it did not like it
If this had just been a straight memior, it would have been much better. When she was talking about her life it was fairly interesting. When she started going off about the lake and the birds and the whatever...not good. All I could really find to say about this books was, "It was fine."
Sep 25, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it
"Growth is the only cure for great sorrow or an identity crisis. Recovery requires the building of a roomier container in which to hold our experiences. It helps to put our suffering in context and to see our lives as part of a larger whole. All experience can be redemptive if we ask, ‘What did I learn from this?’" (p.13)

"I suspect that most of us feel as if our lives are both pedestrian and momentous. We all experience ourselves as exceptional and ordinary." (p.14)

"To feel relaxed, I need to mo
Disney Princess Recovery
Mar 18, 2015 Disney Princess Recovery rated it really liked it
Loved and struggled with this, then ultimately loved it.

It felt like being in the cocoon and making the transformation with the writer to coming out of the cocoon.

At the heart of it, it is a universal story about what happens when the psychological construct that we built for our self to live in, no longer fits.
This can also be termed mid-life crisis, quarter life-crisis, or The Gift.

The difficult part (but it was honestly written) was feeling Pipher's rootedness in her old idea.
Her old constr
Feb 19, 2009 Dawn rated it liked it
Maybe because I have a "monkey brain," (and you have to read the book to know what that is), I had a hard time getting through the beginning of this book. The first part is a detailed description of her family history which felt repetitive though it probably wasn't, and much too long. In fact any reference to Buddhism doesn't occur until page 177. Of a 258 page book. Really.

So I was slogging along thinking I should have read her first book "Reviving Ophelia" because she referred to that one so
Jun 01, 2013 Jennifer rated it liked it
I found this book at McKay around the time I was starting to learn about and practice meditation. I was drawn to the title of the "Worst Buddhist in the World". I can relate. Meditation is not easy or natural or anything like the usual impatient and angsty posture I take towards the world. I walk too fast, drive too fast, eat too fast and don't sit still very well. I have also found myself to be an impatient reader. I get frustrated with long descriptions of details or parts that feel like they ...more
Emilia P
Oct 09, 2009 Emilia P rated it liked it
In terms of how some of this book made me feel I would totally give it four stars. In terms of having an overarching theme/point/etc. definitely less. It ended it up being largely a memoir of Pipher's childhood and some of her adult life. I guess the childhood stuff was the best... her parents were weird and her life was weird and that was cool.

A lot of the book focused on her nervous breakdown after years on the road and how she coped with that and it was kind of nice. Her response to it was t
Jun 23, 2016 Drick rated it really liked it
Mary Pipher came to fame in her book, Reviving Ophelia, a book that was extremely helpful to me in being the father of three daughters. However the fame brought with it lots of speaking engagements, seminars and other events that caused her to travel a great deal. After 10 years and writing several other books, she had what could be called a nervous breakdown, but which she ultimately called a spiritual crisis in 2002. This book tells her story leading up to, thru and then after that spiritual c ...more
Apr 05, 2014 Heidi rated it liked it
I feel kind of bad giving just three stars to such an intimate and heartfelt book. But I felt like the title was misleading. I bought the book because I thought it was going to be about Mary Pipher's experience with Buddhism. I like Mary Pipher, I like Buddhism; it seemed like a winning combination.

But about 70% of the book just details the way Pipher herself, her parents, and her grandparents grew up. I suppose you could call it a memoir but it wasn't even an interesting memoir. It was just a l
Adele Stratton
Sep 28, 2009 Adele Stratton rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
(Unabridged Audiobook version.) This may have been partly the phenomenon of the right book at the right time for me, but I liked this one a lot. I am about the same age as Pipher when she wrote this (I am 59, she finished this with a story about her family’s celebration of her 60th birthday). It’s a reflection on her life and the story of her near mental and physical collapse when one of her most wished-for goals—to become a famous writer—became a reality. I think it’s also in some senses an “ev ...more
Jun 06, 2009 Jenn rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, spirit
I read a lot of this book feeling like I was "waiting for the good part"—I'm not sure whether that says more about me or about the book, but the later chapters about Pipher's recovery resonated the most with me. I can understand that she needed to lay out her family history and her own history as a way of understanding how she came to be where she was, and to bring home her own emphasis on family at the end, but the early chapters felt like a rote recitation to me, and like a fulfillment of some ...more
Jul 19, 2009 Lain rated it really liked it
I have had Mary Pipher's other books on my "to read" list forever... but this is the one that grabbed me and said "Read me now!" I'm glad I did.

A self-proclaimed homebody, Pipher is thrust into a deep depression and near breakdown after the phenomenal success of her previous books. She fights her way out through a combination of self-care and do-it-yourself Buddhism. This book is her story of learning to put herself not only at the front of the line, but in the driver's seat as well.

Tracing her
Kate Lawrence
Apr 24, 2009 Kate Lawrence rated it really liked it
If I only everyone had both the time and ability to process and integrate their life experiences so skillfully! Pipher writes beautifully and with an open heart. She and I are nearly the same age, both grew up in the Midwest, and attended the University of Kansas at the same time. I was drawn to the book to see what overnight fame as a nonfiction author might be like, and was very interested to read both the good and the bad. She was overwhelmed by all the people who sought her help, and unable ...more
Grace Jacobs
Jun 23, 2015 Grace Jacobs rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Mary Pipher never fails to draw me in. This is no exception. The story of discovering inner tranquility. Being fully present. I loved this for the moment I am in. Her words are so reassuring, affirming and loving. I will return to this again. I underlined many parts-- here is just one: " Every now and then, we humans are gifted with mythic days that rearrange the deep structure of our being and transform our lives. These kinds of days can't be orchestrated, but they are more likely to happen und ...more
May 22, 2010 Larry rated it liked it
I had no knowledge of this author when I picked this up at the library so i entered in with a clean slate. She appeared to be well known based on some of the preamble ..guest on Oprah (I guess that makes her famous?)anyhow its a good read and gives a great insight on the cost of fame for some who receive it unintentionally.Her rise from the ashes of the resultant despair/burn-out of fame is most interesting and should be a must read for those who may have ambitions for the limelight!
I enjoyed th
Aug 04, 2014 Betty rated it it was ok
I liked this book the more I read it, and I did glean some useful ideas from reading it. I have decided to make a journal of "happy moments" each day (hope I can keep it up) and a picture to go with it each week.

Some quotes I loved are:

Happiness is both a choice and a skill that we can learn. In the end, we all create our own inner space.

Do any of us really know much about the long-term effects of our actions on any one person?

We don't get to tinker with our lives, ultimately, they are what they
Jun 22, 2010 Gloria rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Middle-aged & Older women
Shelves: biography-memoir
I started reading this with completely different expectations from what it turned out to be. First of all, there is extremely little included about Buddhism. As a fan of "Reviving Ophelia" which strongly influenced how I raised my daughter, I thought this might be philosophical and therapeutic, and it is. However, this is mainly a highly personal examination of her life from early childhood to the time now where she slips into her older years. Objectively, she embraces all those who influenced h ...more
Karen Floyd
Mar 29, 2012 Karen Floyd rated it it was amazing
I opened this book in the store, glanced over the first few pages and thought I was reading about myself. I too have a mind that is never still, my thoughts race and circle, reliving the past, imagining what-ifs, worrying. Especially worrying. I found reading about Mary's journey hopeful and inspiring, her suggestions simple and full of common sense. Her exploration of her family relations has made me take a new look at mine with, I hope, more understanding and a more open mind. What happens to ...more
Mar 19, 2012 Debtas rated it really liked it
I started reading Mary Pipher years ago with "Reviving Ophelia". I have read almost all of her books. So sure I was of her inborn common sense and innate bigheartedness I was shocked to read her description of dealing with the same depression and burn out that many of us have dealt with. As always though she reveals a generosity, wit and humility I hope to someday emulate.

"In a famous scene in the movie Jaws, the local sheriff is chumming for the great white shark, and it appears out of nowhere.
Mar 16, 2010 Alice added it
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
Picked this up at the library yesterday as author and title caught my eye. Checked it out because the inside book flap told a similar story to mine. I'm on page 30 and have tagged 10 sections with post it flags. She writes about the type of mind she has, the depressive episodes she's had and about her own "meltdown." Pipher writes simply, honestly and is already aiding my self-compassion by affirming many of the things I have learned the past few years through my own meltdown. I'm only able to s ...more
Oct 21, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
This is definitely a case of the right book at the right time. I don't think I would have gotten through it at a different point in my life, but because I've been focusing on mindfulness and living in the moment, it really felt like the author was speaking directly to me. I've recently begun praying--something that I've never really done before--and am uncomfortable with that word, since to me it is a religious practice and I've always had a hard time with religion. Pipher has convinced me that ...more
Mary Kay
Jan 15, 2010 Mary Kay rated it liked it
Pipher writes well, but I became impatient at the 150 or so pages detailing her childhood and subsequent life. Her description of her breakdown and recovery were instructive and interesting, but I could not see why such an extended intro was necessary. I think she could have presented background on why/how she wrote her famous work, Reviving Ophelia, in place of some of this, since that book and her subsequent fame were what set the conditions for the breakdown. I may even purchase the book to h ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because years ago I read Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls( by the same author) and I recall loving that book. Seeking Peace starts out slowly and I was about to give up in disappointment when it started getting better. The author, a psychologist(or was it psychiatrist?) herself, has a breakdown after her life changes drastically following the success of Reviving Ophelia.
Pipher shares her journey and experiences with the fragility of her own psyche; a
Mar 02, 2010 Julie rated it it was amazing
I always enjoy Mary Pipher. She lives in my hometown, and I frequently recognize the places she writes about. Even though I enjoy reading her books, I often find myself disagreeing with her point of view. Still, I can understand where she is coming from. In Seeking Peace, she begins by introducing the important people in her life, one by one. It makes me think of my own family, and how I could also write little biographies of their lives. Then she takes you through her own life - so truly, this ...more
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“I read of a Buddhist teacher who developed Alzheimer's. He had retired from teaching because his memory was unreliable, but he made one exception for a reunion of his former students. When he walked onto the stage, he forgot everything, even where he was and why. However, he was a skilled Buddhist and he simply began sharing his feelings with the crowd. He said, "I am anxious. I feel stupid. I feel scared and dumb. I am worried that I am wasting everyone's time. I am fearful. I am embarrassing myself." After a few minutes of this, he remembered his talk and proceeded without apology. The students were deeply moved, not only by his wise teachings, but also by how he handled his failings.

There is a Buddhist saying, "No resistance, no demons.”
“With meditation I found a ledge above the waterfall of my thoughts.” 4 likes
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