Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness

Mark Epstein, Author
Mark Epstein, Author Broadway Books $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7679-0234-2
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Over 200 years ago, philosopher John Locke proposed that the human mind was a blank slate waiting to be filled up with ideas. Locke's ideas developed into the Western psychological notion of self-fulfillment. In order truly to be self-fulfilled, ones mind literally must be filled to its brim with ideas and desires. Buddhist psychotherapist Epstein (Thoughts Without a Thinker) offers a radically different way of understanding the self in his latest book. Beginning with the Buddhist doctrine that no self is the key to self, Epstein divides his book into four parts ""based on the nicknames that Tibetan Buddhists sometimes give to their spiritual practices."" These nicknames derive from the activity of falling in love, for in such activity one ""simultaneously forgets and discovers oneself."" Thus, in ""Looking,"" Epstein advises that we learn how to live with the emptiness of self and to surrender to the void rather than rushing to fill the void with the trivial thoughts of everyday life. In ""Smiling,"" he offers guidance on developing a meditation practice that will help center the self and connect with the universe's harmony. Finally, in ""Embracing,"" Epstein urges moving from the solitude of meditation to the fabric of relationship, and in ""Orgasm,"" he shows how all the threads of the self are woven into a passionate practice. Using stories drawn from his own Buddhist practice and that of his patients, as well as insights from great Buddhist teachers like Chogyam Trungpa and Ram Dass, Epstein shows through sparkling prose and effervescent wit how spiritual practice can transform our everyday lives. (June)
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