Most helpful positive review
272 of 278 people found the following review helpful
very nice metta-meditation instruction
on May 2, 2005
I am not a Buddhist, but I've practiced insight (vipassana) meditation for several years. I was curious about lovingkindess (metta) meditation, which I'd heard of when I was in Burma, although as a beginner, I chose to stick to insight meditation.
Somehow I thought this book would be the best introduction to me, and I ordered it. But let me confess, at first I failed to appreciate it. I read about 20 pages, I was bored, and I put the book down for about 8 months. That's fine, insight meditation never hurt anyone.
I don't remember why I was initially so bored by the book. Perhaps it was because of her conversational style, full of stories from her own or her friends' experiences. Most people like that kind of thing, it makes the author's ideas easier to understand, more familiar and more human; but I usually prefer an author to state their point and move on, without personal stories. Anyway, the stories she shares actually illuminate her points quite well.
When I picked the book up again (8 months later), somehow it hit me this time. I read it in about 2 weeks, and it only took me that long because I actually did many of the meditation exercises she suggests. I intend to keep going back and doing more of them.
She does a good job presenting the tradition of metta meditation, as far as I can tell, although I'm certainly no expert on it.
Since she's Buddhist, naturally she believes in karma and reincarnation, but I don't. So I, as a thorough skeptic, appreciated the lack of supernaturalism throughout the book. In the penultimate chapter she gave an account of karma, but that was all. She was very considerate to skeptics in that regard. The rest of the book is sharply focused on the techniques and principles of metta meditation and their benefits in this life.
That makes it a book I can strongly recommend, regardless of your religious inclinations, if you want to practice metta meditation. You don't need to believe in karma or reincarnation to benefit from it!
But let me add a little caveat to that. I am not a great teacher or anything, but if you're just starting meditation, I'd recommend trying insight meditation first.
One more small note: On beliefnet.com, you can enjoy some guided meditations led by the author of this book, for free.