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Going on Being: Buddhism and the Way of Change Paperback – February 12, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (February 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767904613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767904612
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Can you remember the childhood feeling of living happily moment to moment, without intrusive aims or fears? Psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott called it the state of "going on being." Bestselling author Mark Epstein sees a similarity with the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, of just watching the mind and body without holding on or pushing away. Epstein excels at finding the similarities between Buddhist meditation and psychotherapy, and he is in top form in Going On Being. Offering an autobiographical account of his own gradual discovery of this nexus, Epstein tells of his encounters with such luminaries as Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield, ruminating on them and then showing how his insights shed light on his work as a psychoanalyst. Ultimately, he finds that psychoanalysis can function as a kind of interpersonal meditation, helping the patient see aspects of the self that are hidden behind habitual ways of reacting to the world. Going On Being shows that, if done well, psychotherapy can offer some of the same benefits as Buddhist meditation. Eureka! --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Psychiatrist Epstein revisits territory he explored in his earlier books, Thoughts Without a Thinker and Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart. Borrowing his title and his inspiration from the British child analyst D.W. Winnicott, Epstein sets out to elucidate how Buddhist meditation can work with psychotherapy to guide people off the rocky shoals of "psychological emptiness" and into the deep flowing water of being. As in his earlier work, Epstein demonstrates a keen ability to link Buddhist ideas and practice with Winnicott's insight about the sense of psychological well-being that comes with the primal experience of "the uninterrupted flow of authentic self." Here, however, Epstein also describes his own liberation from inner emptiness, offering a memoir about his encounter with Buddhism as a Harvard student in the early 1970s. As a structuring device, he attributes different aspects of his growing Buddhist understanding to his encounters with three extraordinary teachers: Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield. Alas, Epstein's admirers will hunger for more meat on the bones he lays out with such care. Part of the problem is the way that Epstein breaks narrative momentum by recapping material that has appeared in more potent form elsewhere, both in his earlier books and in classics like Ram Dass's Be Here Now and Kornfield's A Path with Heart. Lucid writing and truly useful ideas abound, although the talented Epstein travels a well-worn path here.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

For those readers out there searching for an avenue to make incorporating Buddhism and psychotherapy together a reality, here is your book.
Swing King
It certainly kindled my interest in the subject and was successful in integrating buddhist meditation and western psychoanalytic thought for the layman.
John Marsilia
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the spiritual journey, psychology, meditation, eastern philsophy, and life. ...
Mark Wieczorek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wieczorek on May 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Since this book is autobiographical, I find that it's easier to grasp the every-day truth of the statements than in his other books. I can see more easily how they might apply to my life.
I say this book is like a guidebook to the spiritual journey because it feels like a travelogue. Imagine the spiritual Journey is like a trip to New York. You've always wanted to visit New York, perhaps live there, but until that day you can only dream. This book would then read like "When I first arrived in New York I didn't understand the subway system, the maps were confusing and I always got lost, but as I travelled more, I grew accustomed to them, the different colored lines on the map began to make sense. I eventually learned how to get from my home in Park Slope to Greenwich Village, the Empire State Building, and Central Park...." Then one day when you visit New York you'll feel okay if you don't understand the subway system. It validates your experience. Well, this book validates my experience.
I haven't done much meditating, nor have I ever been to a therapist. I do, however, notice my thoughts from time to time, my state of mind, my emotional state, and I consider them, I try to examine them somewhat objectively, and I notice their impact on my life. What this book does (as did After the Ecstasy the Laundry by Jack Kornfield) is make a spiritual life something that happens every day, not something that happens high in the mountains, or locked away in a retreat.
Now when I have certain thoughts, or notice certain thoughts and states of mind, I have a sense of normality. A sense that this is the proper path, and that I am progressing. A sense that I can achieve a state of Going On Being without locking myself away in a Monestary for several years.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is Epstein's third book on the growing rapprochement between traditional Buddhist thought and western psychology. It's his most personal book, and for me it's his best. His first two -- "Thoughts Without A Thinker" and "Going To Pieces Without Falling Apart" -- are more detailed and thorough, but the personal themes running through "Going On Being" make the subject matter more accessible. Part of the difficulty in writing about the experience of the Buddhist path is that there is an inherently ineffable quality to the knowledge gained. One cannot hit the target by aiming directly at it. By expressing the ideas of his first two books more simply, and by illustrating those ideas with stories from his own life, Epstein facilitates understanding and stimulates thought in a way that more detailed explication might not.
I can see how some readers would not read and evaluate this book as highly as I do. Epstein's personal approach won't resonate with everyone. But when it does it works well, and I suspect it will resonate often and deeply enough with most readers interested in the subject matter to make this book an enjoyable and valuable read.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By P. Lozar on May 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Epstein's previous two books were focused on the practical application of Buddhist insights to psychology, and specifically to the psychotherapeutic relationship. By contrast, this is a highly personal account of Epstein's own experience as a student of meditation, and of the various teachers he has studied with over the years. The "guru" relationship is more central to Buddhist practices than most Westerners are used to (or comfortable with), but Epstein has been fortunate in his teachers, and this book shows how liberating the guidance of a good teacher can be. I also felt that he did a good job of conveying the joys of a meditation practice: too many guidebooks, I feel, give the impression that it's a constant uphill struggle. Developing mindfulness isn't a snap, of course, but the benefits are genuine and immediate, and that comes across well here. It does help in reading this book to have a basic understanding of Buddhist principles and practices -- he doesn't go into much depth about them -- but you don't have to be an expert to appreciate what he's talking about. This is less a "how to" and more a "how it happened to me," and in those terms I feel it's excellent.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sam Rolfe on August 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Epstein's sincerity is disarming, and the read is slippery quick, but he repeatedly introduces interesting perspectives - and drops them after little more than a cursory pass. His effort would have made a very acceptable magazine article. Since he chose, or was not prepared, to take any real risks, this should probably be a popular book. If you're satisfied with a little fascination, it will do fine. But if you use your time seeking to be challenged, let this one just go on being.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Scott Hess on April 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
...this book puts theory into the context of practice (and living). It's one of the most grounded books on Buddhism and psychotherapy I've ever read. Smart and pragmatic and worthwhile.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Swing King on February 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
For those readers out there searching for an avenue to make incorporating Buddhism and psychotherapy together a reality, here is your book. From his rusty beginnings at the Naropa Institute in Colorado (Buddhist University) in 1974, he reflects how he knew he was at last at home. Here he met such people as Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Ram Dass, just to name a few. Though he still considered Gestalt therapy to be a sound approach in terms of helping those in need out, he was attracted especially to Buddhist Vipassana meditation while at the Institute. He now proposes various forms of meditation to his patients in his psychoanalytical practice. I don't want to tell the whole story, but needless to say he has found a way to bring together Gestalt therapy and Buddhism quite well. Epstein's writing style is somewhat consoling and encouraging here. I haven't read any of his other works, but I can categorically say I got pleasure from this one from top to bottom. Honest and hopeful, here lies a book all Buddhist therapists have been waiting for. Enjoy!
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