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The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  285 ratings  ·  21 reviews
In simple and straightforward language, Bhante Gunaratana shares what the Buddha said about mindfulness in his instructional talks and how we can use these principles to improve our daily lives, deepen our mindfulness, and move closer to our spiritual goals. While this book is based on a classic text, the Satipatthana Sutta, its presentation is thoroughly modern in Bhante’ ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Wisdom Publications (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This book, in my humble opinion, is more of an introductory to Buddhism basic doctrine than practical guide to meditation, which, to be fair, has already been perfectly covered in his book "Mindfulness in Plain English".
This book covers:5 hidrances, 10 fetters, 5 aggregates, 6 senses and their objects, 32 body parts, 4 body elements, 108 feelings, 10 perceptions, 7 factors of enlightment, 4 noble truth, 8 noble paths...
As the book name suggests, it teaches us four subjects to be mindful of: bo
I think I read this book with too little meditation experience, so it wasn't as helpful to me as "Mindfulness in Plain English" was. I've only been meditating for a few months, and not very regularly, so maybe if I go back and read this book in a year or two it will be more helpful. The writing style is still very clear and approachable, easy to read, easy to understand.

This book definitely has a more overtly Buddhist message, which may be off-putting to anyone who meditates for reasons other th
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Found his other books, especially Mindfulness in Plain English, more engaging and stimulating. This one certainly has some useful material in it as well though. 2.5 stars
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book. I found it very accessible and profound at the same time. Bhante G's gentleness and guidance comes through on every page. Thank you Bhante G. :) ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great, practical advice for satipatthana meditation. Highly recommended!
Susan Oleksiw
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
In thirteen chapters Bhante Gunaratana presents a traditional Theravada version of meditation and mindfulness leading to liberation, or nibbana. Part 1 covers mindfulness of the body; part 2 covers mindfulness of feelings; part 3 covers mindfulness of mind, and part 4 covers mindfulness of Dhamma. Each section discusses in relevant, individual chapters topics such as breath, the postures, sensations and emotions, mental states, and hindrances. The goal is to guide the seeker in ways that will en ...more
Heather Sinclair
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: makes-you-think
This was a short, quick read (despite my taking a reeeeeally long time to finish). Very clear explanations about the foundations of mindfulness, what they mean, and how they fit together in the bigger picture of buddhism. There are tips for fitting these things into your life, and in a realistic way at that.

OK, although I said it was a quick read, I don't actually recommend plowing through it, as it takes a bit for the ideas to sink in. Read a chapter every day or two, to avoid it going in one
Michael Eff
Its an OK book. I thought I was getting a book about meditation and took a dive into the principles of Buddhism instead. It contained solid principles and concepts but really emphasizes that you have to follow the Buddhist teaching to truly gain enlightenment. For being written in plain English, it still feels as though it's been heavily translate at times. This manifest itself in ambiguous concepts, terms, and examples at times. ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love all of Bhante Gunaratana books. This one is for those who are more seriously pursuing meditation practices, so that is why I gave it four stars instead of more. It hones in on more subtle Buddhist teachings, so is not for everyone.
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone in my life suggested I look into the practice of being mindful. This book is the beginning of that. Excellent!
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
His books are always so useful and I will read it again. If you have never read any of his books, start with Mindfulness in Plain English. It is a great foundation for mindfulness practice.
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good book on the Satipatthana Sutta, which establishes the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, as transmitted by the Shakyamuni Buddha himself. As a follow up to Bhante G's earlier book, Mindfulness in Plain English*, this is a terrific volume. I found the first book much more helpful, however, as it details much more of the pains and pitfalls of Vipassana and Samatha meditation practices. This book attempts to tackle a much broader subject, however, but feels lacking in the same kind of advice as ...more
Maughn Gregory
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wisdom-studies
Gunaratana has a rare gift for making Buddhist precepts not only "plain" but practical:

"Watching how quickly our feelings change, without any effort on our part, we realize another important truth. We begin to see that feelings are just feelings, not _my_ feelings or parts of _me_. We realize that we identify so closely with our feelings that they seem to be part of our basic identity. Experience tells us this is not the case" (p. 84).
Elly Sands
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read this through almost to the end but to my surprise it just wasn't satisfying. I usually really appreciate books on this subject but this one seemed too rigid. I did get a few pointers but I found it difficult to relate to the author. I don't want to turn potential readers off to this book as some will find it helpful and enriching. ...more
George Bremner
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Good, easy read. Gunaratana focuses mostly on the aspects of the practice as it relates to the Satipatthana sutta. His approach makes the book a great companion to any commentary about the four foundations.
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very good. I'm comparing Gunaratana's teaching with Trungpa's section on the Four Foundation's in "The Path of Individual Liberation". Trungpa's teachings, as always, vary somewhat from the "mainstream" interpretation. ...more
Robin Morris
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Excellent walk through of the Satipatthana Sutra; Inspirational

Read Sept 2012; re-read March 2013.
Dec 20, 2012 added it

A very good book. Highly recommend it for anyone who is willing to look inside oneself & introspect.
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Comprehensive more scholarly approach to the four foundations of mindfulness.

For serious practitioners.
Michelle Fury
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love Gunaratana's clear style. He gets to the point. Though he has a straightforward approach to teaching meditation, some of the practices he instructs on are quite deep & esoteric. He's a master. ...more
Nov 13, 2012 rated it liked it
clear but sparse
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Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is the founding abbot of the Bhavana Society. Born in rural Sri Lanka, he has been a monk since age 12 and took full ordination at age 20 in 1947. He came to the United States in 1968. “Bhante G” (as he is fondly called by his students) has written a number of books, including the now-classic meditation manual Mindfulness In Plain English and its companion Eight Mindful ...more

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