cover image IF THE BUDDHA GOT STUCK: A Handbook for Change on a Spiritual Path

IF THE BUDDHA GOT STUCK: A Handbook for Change on a Spiritual Path

Charlotte Kasl, . . Penguin Compass, $13 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-14-219628-1

"Buddhism offers a gentle... understanding of being stuck and getting unstuck," writes Kasl (If the Buddha Dated ), referring to a variety of stubborn problems that can interfere with life, including feeling intractably "bored, scared, protective, petty, exhausted, afraid or unfulfilled." In 60-plus brief chapters featuring discussions and therapy-type strategies deeply rooted in Buddhist teachings, Kasl guides readers on a journey of self-discovery. She begins by inviting them to notice where they are stuck, and then asks them to simply "show up" to life with a sense of "fascination and curiosity." She implores them to be mindful and to trust in the power of engaging reality directly without interpretive lenses (acknowledging difficulties in a relationship, for example, instead of making excuses). She then explores the importance of connecting with others, of acting on insights and the "ultimate step" of letting go the temporal self, an act that brings "abiding happiness." Throughout, she intersperses exercises to help readers engage the lessons more personally. Kasl's approach is compelling: her discussions are simple but never simplistic; her tone is warmly inviting but not obsequious; and her insights are both penetrating and accessible. Occasionally her supporting illustrations veer into the cheesy, but overall Kasl offers a challenging, practical and disarmingly effective approach to getting out of life's ruts. (Jan. 4)