Friday, December 2, 2011

Meditation -- simple but deep

The Miracle of MindfulnessThe Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an almost indispensable guide toward establishing an understood meditation practice. Why, how and what: that is, why meditation, how to meditate, and what is meditation, actually. No nonsense, no hoo-ha, no mystification: this is a book my son uses In PRISON to help prisoners discover how they can avoid despair, rage, bitterness, and actually find compassion for themselves and others.

An affectionate title many of his students use to refer to Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced "thick not hawn") is "Thay," a Vietnamese term for teacher or respected teacher. Like calling someone "Maestro" or "Rabbi" or "Pastor."  Some people will say that "Thay" caters too much to Western middle-class desires for self-help and self-actualization and self-ish personal happiness, but I say, okay, start there if that's where people are. And not only the middle-class craves help and personal development. It's just that the middle class generally has the time and the means to articulate it for themselves and "buy in" to retreats and books and DVDs and CDs. But youth at risk and people on the edge need it just as much if not more.

Many of Thay's books are at least accessible and straightforward. I myself have taken transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings and have formally "Taken Refuge" in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
And I started with this, and with his book called simply Anger.  Almost nine years later and I continue to aspire to the path of Buddhism.  A great spiritual teacher, Bo Lozoff, wrote a touching book on practice called Deep and Simple, and in truth that is the spiritual path, just that deep and just that simple: stay aware and open your heart.  Breathe: you are alive.

This book is a great introduction and can pay off in almost instant if gradual changes.

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