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Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the Buddha's Path Paperback – June 15, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (June 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861711769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861711765
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

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Very easy to understand.
Kenneth L. Smith
In my not-so humble opinion, I would suggest that anyone really interested in Mindfulness Meditation, buy this book.
Amazon Customer
I have read this book many times and use it in my classes.
R. Hodge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

124 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Missing in Action on July 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana has summarized all of the Buddha's path to happiness, everything we know about affecting change in our lives, and everything that psychology teaches us about healthy living into a single, easy to read, easy to apply manual for happiness. This book is a gem! It can be used for inspiration, or instruction. It can be read countless times for added insight. If you are inclined toward Buddhism, or at least are taken with the Buddhist perspective, you will appreciate the straightforward approach he takes to describing the eight steps. If you are not Buddhist or so inclined, you might be put off with some of what you read (the Author clearly believes that the Buddha's way is THE way, and you might be inclined to think of Jesus as the way, or someone else), but I think any rational person would recognize the power and potential for creating change that is captured in this book.
The eight steps are:
1. Skillful Understanding - recognizing the roles of cause and effect, and truly understanding the Four Noble Truths as taught by the Buddha
2. Skillful Thinking - Emphasis on understanding how our attachment to things is the source of our suffering (letting go), the practice of loving-friendliness, and practicing compassion.
3. Skillful Speach - Special emphasis on truth-telling, gentle speach, and avoiding useless chatter.
4. Sillful Action - Particular attention to the Five Precepts, namely abstaining from killing, stealing, speaking falsely, sexual misconduct and misuse of intoxicants.
5. Skillful Livelihood - Understanding that how we make a living can have negative or positive impacts (skillful or unskillful) on our path to happiness.
6.
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Rivera on July 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, a prior reviewer's comments were somewhat unintelligible and punctuated by non sequiturs. It is in stark contrast to the substantive and coherent work by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana.

I have long sought a practical and comprehensive manual that could clearly explain and outline, in both detail and simple language, the fine points of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path. Not only has Bhante accomplished this with beautiful clarity, he has done so in a manner that lends itself to easy application within one's daily life. This is not to say that applying the Buddha's doctrine is necessarily a simple process, but merely that (for those interested in Buddhism) reading this book should eliminate any procrastination in commencing the Path because of any possible lack of understanding.

While the present work was published subsequent to Mindfulness in Plain English - by the same author - it can stand alone quite well. In fact, I would recommend that Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness be read first, before proceeding to Mindfulness in Plain English - as it seems a more natural progression. But, really, this is just a matter of personal preference.

Anyone purchasing this book with the expectation of gaining a greater understanding of Buddhist doctrine in layman's terms is, in my humble opinion, unlikely to be disappointed.
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56 of 65 people found the following review helpful By ADB on February 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Gunaratana's book is an excellent introduction to living according to the Noble Eightfold Path. Its ethical wisdom and in-depth coverage of the Path itself will undoubtedly have a positive impact on any reader. The language seems deliberately pared down, clear and simple, making it almost a kind of "Buddhism for Dummies" approach, suitable for persons with any level of understanding. However, I would not recommend this either as a first book on Buddhism or as a self-contained overview of Buddhist principles. It makes a fine supplement to a more rigorous introductory presentation of Buddhism, such as Walpola Rahula's What the Buddha Taught, which is where I would send readers first. This book is one of a handful to turn to next, especially for practical purposes and to expand one's knowledge of the Path, but I see a few problems with it that make me urge both caution and skepticism.

First, Gunaratana equates enlightenment with being "free from any speculative views or theories about reality, about the past, present, and future, about the existence of the self, and about the universe." This seems to make Buddhism not only unscientific (nothing wrong with that as empiricism can't directly address experience or wisdom) but anti-science (that is a problem). This emphasis places Buddhism too close to other religions that claim their teachings are more important than empirical discoveries about the nature of reality. An antidote to this way of thinking is provided by the Dalai Lama's new book, The Universe in a Single Atom. His Holiness looks to the intersection of science and Buddhism, which I accept as the way forward.

Second, Gunaratana places too great an emphasis on quelling doubts about the Buddha's teachings. He treats doubt and skepticism as undesirable rather than productive.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kavity Killer on February 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've read lots of books about buddhism, but none as practical and readily understandable as this. The author writes in plain language and gives many specific tips on enacting each step. There are no real riddles or obfuscations in the author's approach, and one feels that he's not being stingy or arrogant with his wisdom. Probably not for more advanced practitioners, but a perfect place to start!
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