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Mindfulness in Plain English, Updated and…

Mindfulness in Plain English, Updated and Expanded Edition (original 2002; edition 2002)

by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
597926,341 (4.17)4
This step-by-step buide to Insight Meditation is truly practical and direct. This new edition includes the complete text of its bestselling predecessor and a new chapter on loving-kindness, an especially important subject in today's fractious world. - Publisher. If you'd like to read about meditation and then go back to your regular life, don't get this book. Henepola Gunaratana, a monk from Sri Lanka and venerated teacher of Buddhism, warns us that vipassana meditation is "meant to revolutionize the whole of your life experience." In one of the best nuts-and-bolts meditation manuals, he lays out the fundamentals of basic Buddhist meditation, the how, what, where, when, and why, including common problems and how to deal with them. His 52 years as a Buddhist monk make Mindfulness in Plain English an authority on a living tradition, and his years of teaching in America and elsewhere give it the clarity and straightforwardness that has made it so popular. If you'd like to learn the practice of meditation, you can't do better.… (more)
Title:Mindfulness in Plain English, Updated and Expanded Edition
Authors:Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Info:Wisdom Publications (2002), Edition: 2nd, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library

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Mindfulness in Plain English, Updated and Expanded Edition by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana (2002)



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An odd mix: kept switching back and forth between pragmatic-sounding approaches to meditation and kinda out-there metaphysical/philosphical tangents. Felt repetitive, but that could have just been the attempt to put this material in "plain English".

No rating until I actually have been putting this stuff into practice for a bit and see where it takes me.
  thegreatape | Jan 7, 2020 |
Hmm. This was completely impenetrable when I was first curious about meditation and looking for good, no-nonsense introductory texts. Now that I have a more established meditation practice, I noticed it on my shelf and decided to revisit it.

I still feel that it's incredibly dogmatic and overbearing for a supposedly 101-level text, but now that I have some basis for understanding, I gleaned some interesting insights from it (such as the distinction between concentration and mindfulness). It gets pretty technical in a way that was off-putting for me as a complete newbie (i.e. too much information too quickly) but might be good for someone at an intermediate level, who has already experienced a bit of meditation and had a chance to get a sense for how they want their practice to grow.

If you're getting into meditation for the first time, I would recommend [b:Full Catastrophe Living|5496611|Full Catastrophe Living|Zach Savich|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1328757896s/5496611.jpg|5564524]. If you're curious about Buddhism, I would recommend anything by Pema Chodron.

If you know an intermediate amount about both of those things, this one might be a good next step -- though for me, I think I'm going to stick with my Headspace app and not worry too much about whether I'm breathing incorrectly. ( )
  wirehead | Sep 3, 2018 |
A Guide to vipassana meditation for a complete beginner. A clear and readable text. Would recommend to anyone who is looking to begin practicing meditation and don't want to get bogged down by theoretical and ritualistic stuff. ( )
  kasyapa | Oct 9, 2017 |
I’m an armchair Buddhist. Meaning, I like to think about being Buddhist more than actually practicing. But I certainly have deep appreciation for much of Buddhist thought, and I occasionally meditate, and I want to do so more frequently. I almost joined a Zen Buddhist Temple about a mile away from where I live. Still thinking about doing so. Oddly enough, the Art Director who designed my first novel, Death by Zamboni quit his job to become a monk there. I think I drove him crazy because I was so demanding. Or … perhaps I enlightened him!

Buddhism has many sects, some of which believe in mystical crap like reincarnation. Reincarnation seems to be the opposite of one of the core philosophies of Buddhism, which is that there is no “Self.” There are only mental processes going on in our head that we identify with too strongly and label as our “Self.” If there is no “Self,” then there is nothing that could reincarnate. But for the most part, Buddhist philosophy is focused is on meditation and using meditation to understand ourselves and reality (or the lack thereof). Buddhism is cool because there’s no book that tells you what is true. There are no Commandments, no Heaven or Hell with which to threaten you. There are suggestions and ways to explore that help you figure things out for yourself. And furthermore, I find myself agreeing with most of the teachings of Buddhism. I think it to be a better way to live. Whether you agree with everything any given Buddhist believes or not, the practice is intended to help you move toward an enlightened state by considering existence and states of being for yourself. It’s more like a philosophy or even a science than a religion because you can evaluate its truth and results rather than requiring faith to believe.

I do believe there is great power in meditation to calm and focus the mind, release stress, and heal neuroses. I think it can also make us better listeners and, yes, kinder beings. Meditation can help us eliminate self-destructive desires. And, in fact, meditation has been shown, clinically, to help ameliorate diseases. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia research on meditation:
Diagnoses for which MBSR [Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction] was found to be helpful included chronic pain, fibromyalgia, cancer patients and coronary artery disease. Improvements were noted for both physical and mental health measures.
Mindfulness In Plain English was definitely a bit odd here and there, with some bits I didn’t much appreciate, either too-exaggerated, an overpromise, or a bit mystical. But other parts struck a chord.

This book is about “mindfulness,” which is a state of awareness of the present moment and all that is happening in that moment, particularly our inner feelings and thoughts, that can be encouraged through Vipassana meditation. If those feelings happen to be painful ones, you simply observe your own reactions and by observing, you weaken them. The more you do it, the more effective you become. I would not describe this book as being quite as ideal for a beginning meditator as it claims, even though it does speak mostly in plain language. I actually think there are some CDs or DVDs out there that make it a lot easier to get started than reading a book. They guide you through the process while you meditate. I have found Meditation for Beginners to be a great DVD for someone wanting to dip their toes into meditation. I’ve been using it for years.

Here are a few interesting tidbits from the book to help you decide if it’s interesting to you (and by the way, an earlier version of this book is available online free here):

Buddhism as a whole is quite different from the theological religions with which Westerners are most familiar. It is a direct entrance to a spiritual or divine realm, without assistance from deities or other “agents.” Its flavor is intensely clinical, much more akin to what we might call psychology than to what we would usually call religion. Buddhist practice is an ongoing investigation of reality, a microscopic examination of the very process of perception. Its intention is to pick apart the screen of lies and delusions through which we normally view the world, and thus to reveal the face of ultimate reality.

The purpose of meditation is personal transformation. The “you” that goes in one side of the meditation experience is not the same “you” that comes out the other side. Meditation changes your character by a process of sensitization, by making you deeply aware of your own thoughts, words, and deeds. Your arrogance evaporates, and your antagonism dries up. Your mind becomes still and calm. And your life smoothes out.

Mindfulness and only mindfulness can perceive that the three primary characteristics that Buddhism teaches are the deepest truths of existence. In Pali these three are called anicca (impermance), dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), and anatta (selflessness—the absence of a permanent, unchanging entity that we call Soul or Self). These truths are not presented in Buddhist teaching as dogmas demanding blind faith. Buddhists feel that these truths are universal and self-evident to anyone who cares to investigate in a proper way. Mindfulness is the method of investigation. Mindfulness alone has the power to reveal the deepest level of reality available to human observation. At this level of inspection, one sees the following: (a) all conditioned things are inherently transitory; (b) every worldly thing is, in the end, unsatisfying; and (c) there are really no entities that are unchanging or permanent, only processes.
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1 vote David_David_Katzman | Nov 26, 2013 |
This is a book I have been reading for about a year, off and on. I am thankful I have finally finished it, as it it a powerful book, helping me to define a course I really need to start traveling in my life. Defining mediation and the course to be successful at it, as well as expressing some of the challenges that even masters face, I felt as though this is an attainable goal in my everyday life. ( )
  HippieLunatic | Dec 26, 2012 |
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Meditation is not easy.
The subject of this book is vipassana meditation practice. This is a meditation manual, a nuts-and-bolts, step-by-step guide to insight meditation. It is meant to be practical. It is meant for use.
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