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Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: An Introductory guide to Deeper States of Meditation
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Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: An Introductory guide to Deeper States of Meditation

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  539 ratings  ·  29 reviews
“A straightforward and pragmatic guide to deepening levels of concentration and insight. This book is a joy to read and a great gift to us all.”—Joseph Goldstein, author of Mindfulness

Countless people worldlwide have made Mindfulness in Plain English a beloved and bestselling classic in almost a dozen languages. Now after nearly two decades, Bhante helps meditators of ever
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Wisdom Publications (first published 2009)
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Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
The jhanas are states of deep relaxation and presence of mind with a detachment from external stimuli. Many people are familiar with Insight Meditation (Vipassana) of Theravada Buddhism, the oldest surviving form ( not the oldest form absolutely ) of Buddhism. However, until recently almost nothing has been written about the Jhanas in English and what was written has been mistaken, as well as confusing. "Beyond Mindfulness In Plain English" is one of about 4 new books about the Jhanas meant to c ...more
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The first half of this book is about the basics of Buddhism and meditation. It outlines the hindrances and fetters and provides some helpful hints to stay focused during meditation. The suggestions are clear, easily applicable, and helped me to isolate and de-escalate my anger in several situations. The second half of the book describes the four stages of jhana--what I understand to be deep meditation. Even though I have never experienced deeper states of meditation, the explanations of jhana pr ...more
The follow-up to Mindfulness in Plain English, this book explores deeper states of consciousness, called "jhanas." It assumes the reader has read the first book. It lays the foundation with a lengthy discussion of removing "fetters" and "hinderances," a strong "metta" practice (lovingkindness meditation), and a strict discipline of mindfulness and concentration. Then it devotes most of the book to explanations of the jhanas: the four material jhanas, the immaterial jahanas, and the supramundane ...more
Grace Lee
Useful framework, although the latter half of the book becomes really abstract and difficult to relate to for the novice practitioner.
Magnus Lidbom
Interesting read. Not convincing in the least though in my opinion. All the different levels and methods sound to me like little other than non-essential embellishments at best. I heard nothing in here to convince me that all these super-mystical states are beneficial at all, if they even exist. Rather I see every reason to suspect that if you get sidetracked into hunting these mystical, likely fictitious and certainly unverifiable, states you will be wasting time and quite possible moving away ...more
Nikita Shorikov
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant, wise, insightful, compassionate, and practical book. Though Gunaratana does occasionally veer into complex abstraction in an attempt to explain equally complex phenomena, I think such abstraction is justifiable as he does a masterful job in capturing, depicting, and explaining the essence of each thing. The book is full of practical advice for starting a mindfulness practice and why one may want to do so. I also found reading the book to be itself a profoundly lucid meditative exper ...more
Daniel Aguilar
Lots of weird stuff here (meditation stages and techniques described in very abstract terms), obviously targeted to advanced meditators. Interesting, nevertheless.
Maybe worth revisiting in the future.

I give it only two stars as I don't feel I can get much out of it now, and reading it (specially the second half) was pretty painful. But looks like it can be much more valuable to someone proficient in this area.
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook
Amazing introduction to meditation. When I started meditating, I was afraid that I would spent the whole time thinking "Am I doing this right?" but this book definitely played a big role in getting rid of those feelings. I usually don't meditate for more that 20-30 minutes a day, but I can stay focused for much longer than I though I could. This book covers why mediation is good, what it does, and how to do it, almost perfectly. Great book.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
The only reason I have not finished reading this book is that it describes states that are so far beyond anything I have, so far, experienced that it makes no sense for me to read about them. I find myself reading and re-reading but not comprehending. I won't get rid of the book though. I can hope that one day what is described will suddenly be clear to me.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Easy to follow. The wisdom and gifts of a mindfulness meditation practice in simple terms.
Kevin Sweet
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
As advertised, a straightforward guide to mindfulness meditation. Definitely some good tips to try out.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as useful to me personally as the first book, but then I haven't gotten to the jnanas yet. The guy reading the audiobook can't pronounce jnana correctly, and it's kinda irritating.
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mindfulness
This was more challenging to get through than Mindfulness in Plain English for a few reasons. The first is that the concepts here are far more abstract and advanced. Gunaratana uses the same words over and over again to describe different states and progression, some states that have no basis in the physical world and cannot be fairly represented with words, so it starts to feel like a jumble. Another challenge is that this book spans the divide between hobbyist/novice and professional/advanced ...more
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is not meant to replace a samatha meditation teacher or long term retreats (or bootcamps if you prefer to use that term). It encourages me however that samatha meditation, and thus jhana, is a meditationtechnique that properly practiced under proper guidance, will lead to good results. I, too, used to consider samatha meditation as a technique not appropriate for lay people, but only for the olympic athletes among the meditators, as Bhante G put it, until I met a meditation teacher who ...more
Patrick J.
Feb 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: intermediate level meditators
Shelves: non-fiction
I really liked this book. This is a great intermediate level book about mindfulness meditation. It gave me a good idea of where I should be going next with my meditation. Every other book I have read about mindfulness really just rehashes what I had already learned, but Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: An Introductory Guide to the Jhanas assumes that you know what mindfulness is and are familiar with the basic techniques. The only downside to this book was that I got it from the library and ...more
Brian Wilcox
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A helpful guide to 'states' of beingness beyond mindfulness, the latter serving as preparatory. I sense many see mindfulness as the end-all of meditation and spiritual living, when it is one of the courtyards leading progressively to 'deeper', or more 'inward', expressions of Awareness, the Most Holy Place, or what some would call Emptiness. Here, if one clings to mindfulness, one blocks allowing this more indepthness to arise and to relocate 'there'. Gladly, one who has written on the value of ...more
May 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm realizing that for me - New Age meditation has an underlying message to look to the self for answers and peace. My faith and answers and peace are in Christ and I want to keep it that way. Being 'freed' from this thought process isn't something I'm looking to accomplish. Learning to be more present is definitely something I aim to do and something this book did add insights to; but that's about all I found useful.
Dan Tasse
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I think this guy is a super champ and really knows something about some of the more developed states of the mind, particularly the "jhanas" or concentration states. A little bit grounding after reading Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha; helped me realize I still have a long way to go. (sigh)
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
A primer on samadhi, specifically on jhanas, the concentrated states arrived through dedicated concentration meditation. Fair warning that this book can appear dry and perhaps a bit confusing if one hasn't put in the requisite time. Therefore, I would encourage anyone who is interested in meditation to do the hard work and use books like these as guideposts on the path.
Deb Korch
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for the seasoned meditator.
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
a great no-nonsense guide to the jhanas. practical advice for concentration practice and how it naturally feeds into insight practice.
Feb 23, 2014 marked it as to-read
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a follow up from Mindfulness in Plain English and is a continuation of useful and beneficial information.
Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting to know more about the jhanas, but they're a bit too metaphysical for me...
Sep 07, 2015 added it
Shelves: mindfulness
Another classic from Bhante G. Beware, it's not as accessible as are his earlier books -- this is not introductory material.
Steve Woods
May 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the best how to manual I have read. I recommend it for anyone interested in Buddhist practice and meditation. It will give anyone a great start on the journey
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Probably too advanced for me right now. The first Mindfulness in Plain English changed my life, this one was tedious
rated it really liked it
Jul 10, 2017
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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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