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Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity Paperback – April 28, 2008


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Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity + Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana + Practicing the Jhanas: Traditional Concentration Meditation as Presented by the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; First Edition edition (April 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861715608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861715602
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Focused and Fearless is a wonderful book. Shaila Catherine describes the paths of deep concentration and transforming insight in a way that both inspires and enriches our practice. Her prose and her understanding are exceptionally lucid. This book is a treat to read." (Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace and One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism)

"Focused and Fearless is a beautifully written introduction to jhana meditation that demonstrates the importance and necessity of deep concentration." (Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw)

"This is the best book on these practices I have seen. It's five-star." (Christopher Titmuss, author of Mindfulness for Everyday Living)

"The exercises are fun, plus they really work. I love this book." (Kate Wheeler, editor of In This Very Life: Liberation Teachings of the Buddha)

"The language here is so alluring thorough that readers will, I am certain, be inspired to redouble their zeal for practice." (Sylvia Boorstein, author of It's Easier Than You Think)

"Shaila Catherine represents a new generation of Dharma practitioner in the West." (Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness)

"Developing a stable and undistracted mind is essential to most forms of meditation. This book will be of interest to anyone, regardless of their style of practice, wishing to incorporate the deeper stages of concentration of jhana into their meditation." (Inquiring Mind)

"Among the many how-to books about Buddhist meditation, this book stands out for its deep commitment to the frames of reference developed in the Pali Canon, specifically the role of concentration (both 'momentary concentration' in the insight path and the jhana path), and its relationship to insight. With these frames, Catherine is able to create exercises and steps that develop calm meditative states and lead to liberating insight. This book is both a pragmatic manual and a deeply traditional understanding of Buddhist meditation practice. It suggests itself as a helpful guide both to beginning and advanced students." (Mu Soeng, Resident Scholar at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and author of The Heart of the Universe)

"This is a 'user-friendly' concentration book. Through practical exercises and clear examples, Shaila makes the ancient wisdom of the jhanas accessible to all." (Amy Schmidt, dharma teacher and author of Dipa Ma: The Life and Teaching of a Buddhist Master)

"Rigorously investigated and lucidly explained, Shaila Catherine penetrates the mysterious world of jhana practice. Her book's strength lies in that she knows the territory intimately and teaches from her own experience. The author has deeply devoted her life to awakening through meditation, and her confidence and wisdom ring true throughout the whole book. This inspirational and fascinating manual will help many of the rest of us down this path." (Diana Winston, author of Wide Awake, A Buddhist Guide for Teens, teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Director of Mindful Awareness Research Center, UCLA.)

About the Author

Shaila Catherine has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience. She has taught insight meditation since 1996 in the U.S. and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, completed a one-year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana, and authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity. Shaila Catherine has practiced under the guidance of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw since 2006; she authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana to help make this traditional approach to meditative training accessible to Western practitioners. She is the founder of Insight Meditation South Bay, a Buddhist meditation center in Silicon Valley. Lectures, articles, and additional resources can be found atwww.imsb.org.

More About the Author

Shaila Catherine is an author, Vipassana meditation instructor, and the founder of Insight Meditation South Bay, a Buddhist Meditation Center in Silicon Valley.

Shaila began her mindfulness based meditation practice in 1980 and has accumulated over eight years of silent retreat experience plus several years (1990-1996) studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand. She has taught internationally since 1996.

An authority on jhana, Shaila's focus is on the development of concentration and the deep states of blissful absorption. She completed a one-year intensive meditation retreat focused on jhana as the basis for insight from 2003-2004 and trained with Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw, from the Pa-Auk Forest Monastery in Myanmar (Burma).

Her books include Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity (2008) and Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana (2011).

For more information on Insight Meditation South Bay, a calendar of events, links to lectures, and to read Shaila Catherine's blog, please visit the Insight Meditation South Bay website at www.imsb.org.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Her writing is very clear and a joy to read.
Philip Jones
Although Focused and Fearless is a guide to jhana practice, I highly recommend it for meditators from all backgrounds and levels of experience.
Ann D
It will surely be one of my reference books, one that I go back to over and over for help and further understanding.
Michel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By N. Jain on June 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first time I have ever taken the pain to write a review about anything. This book is simply amazing for various reasons:
- I havent found another book on meditation which actually breaks down the various stages of meditation practise in such depth.
- Its very difficult to describe "thoughts" and mental states. Its amazing how simply and effectively Shaila describes all the concepts. Its a delightful and easy read.
- The practices and principles described are actually very simple.
- There many authors these days who write self-help/religious/business books without having much depth of experience. Having met Shaila in person, it becomes quite clear that she has actually practised and mastered what she preaches. Her writing comes from a deep understanding developed over years.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Philip Jones on May 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Focused and Fearless is a reliable and pragmatic guide to the practices of absorption concentration, or jhana. It presents them within the broader context of the path of liberating the mind from suffering and dissatisfaction through non-clinging. The descriptions of these practices are clearly based in Shaila Catherine's own intensive and systematic exploration of them while also being solidly based in the Buddha's discourses and the commentarial tradition. Her writing is very clear and a joy to read. Whether you are simply curious about the jhanas or are interested in practicing with them, Focused and Fearless is a highly recommended practice guide.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Dana Nourie on June 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Meditating is not easy, at least it hasn't been for me. It's essential to understand the importance of meditation to our lives, and to see how far we can go in the meditation process. Focused and Fearless not only detailed the meditation process thoroughly, but also described in great detail the deeper stages of pre-jhana, and the jhanas themselves. It became obvious to me right away that the author has first hand experience with the deeper levels of meditation and throughly understands the topic and difficulties people have. Reading this book invigorated my practice, helped me see where I can eventually go, and helped me deepen my own personal practice. It's a must read book for anyone on the path.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sandya Rakefet, Israel on August 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Focused and Fearless had been extremely helpful to me long before I was introduced to Jhana practice. I must confess that I never read it methodically, cover to cover, stage by stage. The first thing I did when I got the book was to eagerly jump to the section that speaks about the four formless realms, thinking it would be fascinating and inspiring. Indeed it was! But later I realized that it was more beneficial for me to read the sections on developing mindfulness, deepening my meditation practice, and understanding of the workings of the mind. I found that it is not "just" a Jhana book, but is tremendously beneficial to all meditation practitioners. It is an excellent and necessary book for anyone who wants to transform the mind, deepen their understanding of concentration practices, and realize the Buddha's path to liberation.

Both beginners and seasoned practitioners will enjoy the comprehensive "how to" guidance that author and Dharma teacher Shaila Catherine provides. She gives methodical and thorough step-by-step instructions into the realm of deep concentration. In addition, the book is interspersed with many helpful suggestions, tools, and tips that enhance concentration and mindfulness through daily-life awareness. She offers practical instructions for working with difficult thoughts, noticing the space between things, mindful eating, wakeful walking, and much more. Reflections on the quality of our daily lives, the conditions for happiness, our relationship to pleasure, and the nature of mind broaden the scope of Focused and Fearless to encompass essential transformative insights.

Watching and learning about the mind is not an easy task.
Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Knight on January 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I probably came to Focused and Fearless from a different place than most readers who will pick up the book. I had just begun meditating and, from the little reading I had done, was somewhat wary of concentrated practice. Focused and Fearless was not a book I would ordinarily have read. But my mind was so wild, when I was given the book, I figured a little focus might not be a bad thing.

Despite my initial reservations, I found Focused and Fearless extremely helpful and I devoured Shaila's personal stories. Two years later, I still sometimes rely on some of her exercises. Even individuals who aren't drawn to concentrated practice will find Focused and Fearless engaging and useful. Shaila's suggestions for practice "off the cushion" are concrete and down to earth -- for example, she mentions exposing ourselves to challenging situations, such as foreign travel, to develop equanimity. Her vivid description of learning to live in India, as well as her account of coming to terms with life after a serious car accident, gave me a new perspective on the tumultuous last few years of my life.

I am currently reading Focused and Fearless for a second time and am finding Shaila's insights even more helpful and true. As a beginning meditator, I haven't yet tackled the later chapters on jhana, but I hope to in the near future. Shaila has inspired me!
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