“Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by
“Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.”
So! Another book that I spent forever and a day reading. I need to learn to buy these books, dangit! I renewed this twice and it still went overdue. This happens whenever I have a book that has meditation assignments/suggestions. I read half a page to get to the next one, then it's a whole day before I'm ready to come back to the book again.
This book takes on Buddhism in an interesting way (for me at least). For years I've been talking about the parallels between Buddhist theory and physics. There are serious analogies, people. Buddha was talking about how everything in the universe was filled with emptiness, about how everything is made of miniscule particles that connect us all, that when we touch something, we become a part of it (live or not). All of that later was backed up with physics, and then some. Even Buddha's theories of the universe were later explained by modern physics.
There's also a long section on meditation and neuroscience, due to a study that the author participated in, which studied (scanned) the brains of those who are practiced at meditation during meditation sessions. Loved, loved, loved all of this.
The book later gets into types and styles of mediation, and how we mostly do it wrong (I found some very apt analogies in here, because I have many, many bad meditation behaviours!) and the things that we do right, as well as giving many suggestions for ways to meditate and things to meditate on.
Which, of course, is exactly why it took me such a long time to finish this book. There's much in this book about the modern world, contrasting Western culture with third-world cultures, and how happiness isn't reflected by how much money a society has, how much success people find, and how much "stuff" people accumulate. He's right of course, though we all always think that the next "whatever" will be what makes us happy.
“...I began to see that when the pace of external of material progress exceeded the development of inner knowledge, people seemed to suffer deep emotional conflicts without any internal method of dealing with them. An abundance of material items provides such a variety of external distractions that people lose the connection to their inner lives.”
I would not recommend this book to someone with only a passing interest in Buddhism and meditation. This book is lovely, but it is also very in-depth and is going to take up time and thought. But if you are interested in those things, and in how they can bring you not just happiness, but real joy, this is an excellent book.
“The essence of Buddhist practice is not so much an effort at changing your thoughts or your behavior so that you can become a better person, but in realizing that no matter what you might think about the circumstances that define your life, you’re already good, whole, and complete. It’s about recognizing the inherent potential of your mind. In other words, Buddhism is not so much concerned with getting well as with recognizing that you are, right here, right now, as whole, as good, as essentially well as you could ever hope to be.”
This book took forever for me to finish! Even after renewing it twice at the library, it still went a week overdue. It is a slim little volume, but itThis book took forever for me to finish! Even after renewing it twice at the library, it still went a week overdue. It is a slim little volume, but it is extremely dense, and each chapter took me some time to think over, reflect on, even meditate on before I could move on. In hindsight, I should have bought this book, but I didn't realize how much meaning I would find packed into the pages.
I have had a couple of years of change in my life. I wasn't very happy about the person that I had become, and had been focusing in therapy on figuring out who I wanted to be and how I was going to be able to get back to that place in my life where I liked the person I was and the life I was living. This book, though, had been on my shelf for a while, because this hasn't been the only period of upheaval and change in my life. I wish I had read it sooner, though it was very meaningful for me right now.
Much of the philosophy of Buddhism is based on attachments and desire, and how they create all of the unhappiness in our lives. This book helps you find the places in your life that are being affected by this. The rooting-out process can be painful, and embarrassing. You probably don't want to do it. I didn't. But you may need to, just like me. Because once you find those places, it's as though you can cut a thousand fish hooks free from your flesh, and the cords that were pulling you in a thousand directions just drop away.
The relief is amazing.
Take your time reading this book. Do the meditations. Think. Journal. It's worth it in the end, because, of course like anything else, you get out of the experience what you put into it. I found the most amazing spaces in my mind during some of the most difficult and disturbing meditations in the book. But I also found a way to let go and embrace life.
Because, see, here's the thing. I know that these issues are all in my head. But knowing that, and getting to where you can really let go of things? There's a huge enormous canyon in between. And trying to get across it on your own is like shouting into the void and expecting the answer to come on the echo.
But we can all benefit from a little help learning how to cut out those damaging fish hooks and free ourselves from the things that are holding us back.
To say that a book has changed your life sounds utterly cliche, but I will at least say that this book changed the way that I look at most of my life.To say that a book has changed your life sounds utterly cliche, but I will at least say that this book changed the way that I look at most of my life.
There are many books on Buddhism out there, but this one looks at the way practicing mindfulness changes ordinary tasks, and how to find the meaning for your life in your day to day existance. I plan to re-read this soon, as I think about it often....more
Having gone through trials in the last few months that I never thought I'd have to face, this book couldn't have come into my life at a better time.
IHaving gone through trials in the last few months that I never thought I'd have to face, this book couldn't have come into my life at a better time.
I find myself in the position of trying to find it in my heart to forgive someone who not only committed completely unforgivable acts against myself and my family, but feels no remorse for it whatsoever. I need to forgive her because the anger is eating *me* up inside. As this book teaches, she is no different for my anger, it does not affect her in any way, it only tears apart my own life and well being.
I will never have the compassion of the Dalai Lama, but I am trying, walking in his path, to find enough of a portion of it to release the hatred and anger that is festering inside of me. This book helps me not lose sight of that path....more