Meditation is like walking toward happiness. And Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is like a tireless bricklayer, constructing a path brick by brick that allows us to make that walk. Without the path, he says, all the walking in the world won't help. Of course, as a Buddhist monk, his blueprint was created long ago in the form of the Buddha's so-called Noble Eightfold Path. In the same clear language that has made his Mindfulness in Plain English
a perennial favorite, Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness
is his attempt to explain this timeless path of morality, concentration, and wisdom. The gist of the book comes down to the use of the word skillful
in the heading of each of the book's chapters. Living well is a skill that takes both practice and understanding. With stories, bulleted summaries, quotes from the sutras, and, most of all, a knack for relating to our everyday concerns, Henepola Gunaratana skillfully teaches us how to refrain from causing others to suffer. This, along with ending our own suffering, leads to happiness. --Brian Bruya
From Publishers Weekly
In the books for Buddhist beginners that now crowd the shelves it is common to find explications of the faith's various tenets serving to structure and sometimes to title the works. Typically then, in Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness, Gunaratana, who is the Buddhist chaplain at American University and the president of the Bhavana Society in the Shenandoah Valley of West Virginia, delves into the "Eightfold Path" of understanding, thinking, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration. Each chapter devoted to these efforts explains the wisdom of these skillful pursuits and then closes with a "key points" list to summarize highlights. This work is best suited to readers who are very new to Buddhism or who want a taste of the tradition served in a thoroughly American style. Gunaratana (Mindfulness in Plain English) writes in a very simple form and uses highly accessible illustrations to teach. For example, "Even though unskillful deeds may bring temporary happiness when, for example, a drug dealer is pleased with his shiny new car the Buddha pointed out that wrong actions always lead to harm." Though this book is too elemental for most devoted practitioners and does not particularly distinguish itself among the many of its ilk, it may find a useful berth where many voices and versions are generally desirable.
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