Why Is the Buddha Smiling?: Mindfulness as a Means of Bringing Calm and Insight to Your Life

Mark Magill, Author Fair Winds Press (MA) $18.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-59233-019-5
Tricycle contributing editor Magill offers here a heartfelt but nebulous musing on the crucial Buddhist practice of mindfulness. The answer to Magill's titular question seems simple: in order to attain the state of bliss that the Buddha achieved, we need only""not to cower from death, but to learn to appreciate life"" by""returning again and again to the sensations of the moment,"" after which we eventually will""come to taste what it means to be aware."" While this distillation of the path to enlightenment may be accurate, Magill might lead readers who are unfamiliar with Buddhist teachings into thinking that it is relatively easy to discover""the unobstructed view"" of their""real nature."" Readers may find it relatively simple to""begin and end each day with a moment of stillness,"" which Magill suggests as part of a process of cultivating mindfulness, but they might be confused by his directive to""contemplate the nature of your delusion."" Though Magill's suggestions for practice ask much of the beginning student--admitting that one mistakes attachment for love or takes pleasure in a delusion is something few can bravely and honestly do--his reminders that suffering can be beneficial should be comforting and inspiring to those who are enduring great hardship (""When we are happy and comfortable, we are apt to be complacent. When we are suffering and experiencing firsthand the nature of life and death, we begin to realize that we must do something to help ourselves""). Magill's well-meaning ruminations and suggestions show that the Buddhist way of life offers much in the way of overcoming suffering and realizing joy, although supplemental resources will be necessary to provide readers with the guidance to do so.
Reviewed on: 08/01/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Religion
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