Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook

Ajahn Brahm, Author, Jack Kornfield, Foreword by . Wisdom Publications $16.95 (291p) ISBN 978-0-86171-275-5

Most Buddhist writers are not often lighthearted or zesty, but the British-born monk Ajahn Brahm is a delightful exception. Even though meditators are taught to not expect anything, since that represents an attachment, meditation should bring you joy and bliss, according to Brahm. The bliss states of meditation (jhanas) are little-taught, so this book is an addition with value in a crowded niche. Trained in the Thai forest tradition by the Buddhist master Ajahn Chah, Brahm is a clear communicator of the ineffable. He is able to write about a variety of mental states and visualizations with precision and discrimination, drawing on his own experience. He is step-by-step systematic, which helps demystify what happens in meditation. Also useful is the specificity with which he describes the kinds of problems meditators encounter and what to do to resolve them. Meditation is difficult to teach on the page, but Brahm, who began life as an academic at Cambridge, fulfills his calling as teacher. He projects both energetic conviction and calm equanimity. The promise of bliss he describes in this excellent manual is elusive, but remains a compelling goal. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/10/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
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