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Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Shambhala Classics)
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272 of 278 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 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.
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85 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 1999
Lovingkindness : The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg is by far one of the best books ever written. And contrary to what others have said in their reviews, I believe that this book can be read by anyone. If meditation makes you uncomfortable, thing of it as a positive affirmation. Ms. Salzberg teaches us how to appreciate life and those around us. It really is a great book: one of three that I always keep by my bedside and refer to frequently! I highly, highly recommend it!!
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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2000
Sharon Salzberg is such a capable, warm, and inspiring voice for Western Buddhism. This work beautifully weaves together Buddhist philosophy and practice, reality and practicality, compassion and joy. She fleshes out concepts of meditation and mindfulness using her own experiences, often amusing, without drawing attention to herself. Rather, she is a skilled teacher who guides the student on his/her own journey.
Whether Buddhist or not, beginner mind or monk, most readers will celebrate this work.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 1999
This is one of the few books I would actually read over and over. It's incredibly down-to-earth and is full of great quotes you keep in mind all day long. It invites you to think about your perception of yourself and others in a very different light. There is so much common sense in the buddhist way of relating to each other, but we don't often use our common sense.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2004
Loving-kindness meditation is unique to our Buddhist traditions, and in this book Sharon Salzburg presents us with an informative body of work on it's practice. She uses her understanding and know-how drawn from many years of practice to point each and every one of us to the realization that the light of love is already within us all. Loving-kindness must be aimed at two sources: ourselves and all beings.
Sharon talks a bit about what holds us back from this realization, ranging from our attachments to antagonism. One of the first rules to breaking down these impediments is the act of giving, not just giving in a material sense but ultimately giving the breadth of our very being; compassionate action, not just loving-kindness thoughts. This book should speak to all of us, and for this reason alone I give it 5 stars.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 1, 2006
I am not overstating in saying that I owe much of my happiness to the principles this book so clearly, intelligently, and accessibly presents. The principle of loving-kindness is explained in short, marvelously fat-free chapters, at the end of each of which are excellent guided suggestions for practice. The book is impeccably written and edited. These meditations have helped me through profound grieving, which has transformed into joy and new insight.

I especially recommend this book for readers who are experiencing divorce or other difficult interpersonal problems. Short of an expensive and demanding meditation retreat I can think of no better practice for unconditional love and happiness. This is worth a mint in therapy!

No religious belief in Buddhism is necessary.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 1997
While self-help books abound, promising deliverance from all that ails us, Sharon Salzberg's "Loving Kindness, refreshes. Her writings burn themselves clean...in that, one is not tangled up with an author presenting her version of a spiritual path, rather she is the path itself, unfolding for who ever wants to journey. From the opening lines in chapter one: "We can travel a long way and do many different things, but our deepest happiness is not born from accumulating new experiences. It is born from letting go of what is unnecessary and knowing ourselves to be always at home." to the last chapter, entitled, "Living Our Love", Ms. Salzberg writes with dignity and care about that which she deeply knows.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 1998
Reading this book forces the reader to embark upon a journey of opening the mind, and the heart (if there is a real difference). A Journey that questions the conditioned states many of us have become used to as our reality. With a mastery of deep understanding and humility, Sharon Salzberg gives people one of the most important gifts in the world. It is something most of us just seek unconsciously. It is something that we don't usually remain aware of in our every day life, but we all would be willing to do anything to "get" it. It is happiness.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2005
If you have never been involved with meditation or Buddhism this is the book for you. Ms. Salzberg shares her teachings in a clear, friendly, and humble way that truly engages one's mind and heart. You will find no dogma in the classic sense of the word and the Buddhist concepts are explained in a very rational and fully understandable way. As a long time Christian, I can confidently recommend this book to other Christians seeking to deepen their inner practice and prayer life. And, you will experience great personal healing in the process. Metta!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg is a wonderful introduction to the metta meditation, a thorough exploration not only of the practice of metta in spiritual practice but also in daily life. (Metta is another word for compassion or lovingkindness. I will be using these terms throughout, as does Salzberg.)

Drawing on her experience with meditation retreats where she was asked to commit a month to doing only one part of the metta meditation, she applies the Buddhist teachings not only to her own experiences but shares sympathetic ways that the reader can also grow into the experience of living with compassion even if one is unable to be immersed in hours of intensive meditation.

After the first chapter, each ends with a suggested practice but, whereas many books that encourage meditation present a prolonged visualization practice that one can't possibly read and remember without having a remarkable memory, Salzberg's suggestions are uncomplicated and easily followed. The challenge is not in remembering what the meditation practice should be but in continuing the practice for the length of time she suggests. In an eager to move onto the next quick fix, her suggestion to sit with a single mantra for more than a day or two is going to be more challenging than choosing one. The exercises build upon one another and reading through the book in haste defeats the purpose of reading.

So why then did I read through it in a few days? Ahhhhh . . . I wasn't reading to apply the teachings the first time. Rather, I wanted to get an overview of Salzberg's teachings first and I am glad I did. I probably would have been eager to move on without fully experiencing each stage of the process. Knowing where Salzberg is leading the reader helps me to appreciate more each stage of the exercises.

I'll be rereading this book over the next few months.
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