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Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook Paperback – August 11, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; annotated edition edition (August 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861712757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861712755
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Most Buddhist writers are not often lighthearted or zesty, but the British-born monk Ajahn Brahm is a delightful exception. Even though meditators are taught to not expect anything, since that represents an attachment, meditation should bring you joy and bliss, according to Brahm. The bliss states of meditation (jhanas) are little-taught, so this book is an addition with value in a crowded niche. Trained in the Thai forest tradition by the Buddhist master Ajahn Chah, Brahm is a clear communicator of the ineffable. He is able to write about a variety of mental states and visualizations with precision and discrimination, drawing on his own experience. He is step-by-step systematic, which helps demystify what happens in meditation. Also useful is the specificity with which he describes the kinds of problems meditators encounter and what to do to resolve them. Meditation is difficult to teach on the page, but Brahm, who began life as an academic at Cambridge, fulfills his calling as teacher. He projects both energetic conviction and calm equanimity. The promise of bliss he describes in this excellent manual is elusive, but remains a compelling goal. (Sept.)
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Review

"This book is the kind of work that comes around once in a lifetime. I cannot recommend it more highly than that, and encourage anyone with a serious interest in the meditative disciplines taught by the Buddha to buy this book - now!" (BuddhaSpace)

"This clear and accessible book describes meditative absorption states (jhana) and how to attain them. An excellent road map to the the development of jhana, which, as the title suggests, is beyond bliss." (Inquiring Mind)

"Most Buddhist writers are not often lighthearted or zesty, but the British-born Ajahn Brahm is a delightful exception. Brahm is a clear communicator of the ineffable and projects both energetic conviction and calm equanimity. The promise of bliss he describes in this excellent manual is elusive, but remains a compelling goal." (Publishers Weekly)

"Like a broom through cobwebs, Ajahn Brahm here sweeps away the mysteries surrounding the jhanas. Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond is salted with the illustrative, often witty life stories that Brahm is well known for, and he uses readily understandable language to explain what some teachers shy from. Finding this book is like finding an operator's manual for one's practice. Raising the bar for those serious about their practice, he scolds those who would 'dumb-down' nibbana and challenges us to reach for the ultimate happiness. Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond is a bold book, sure to be controversial." (John Roberts, Buddhist Council of the Northwest)

"From the first word (meditation) to the last (Parinibbana), Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond is riveting, rollicking, and uncompromisingly "real". Ajahn Brahm's voice is utterly fresh. But watch out! In the greatest tradition of our beloved roshis and bhikkhus, it is also compelling and commanding. Readers seeking a sure guide to 'the bliss better than sex' will find it in this wonderful book." (Glenn Wallis, translator of The Dhammapada: Verses on the Way)

"Ajahn Brahm is the Seinfeld of Buddhism." (Sumi Loundon, editor of Blue Jean Buddha)

"Ajahn Brahm is originally from London, and his working-class humor and cockney turns of phrase can be charming. Readers will see why so many people are drawn to hear him." (Shambhala Sun)

"Ajahn Brahm has not only provided great leadership for the Buddhist community, but has dedicated much of his time to helping the wider community with a strong sense of compassion, understanding and humour." (Vice-Chancellor Professor Lance Twomey, Curtin University)

"One can never be bored by Ajahn Brahm. Newcomers to Buddhism are always fascinated by how he easily he is able to explain difficult concepts in ordinary language the mind can grasp." (Eastern Horizon)

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Customer Reviews

A practical guide to meditation.
Stephen Sloan
A. You know, I think one of the first times when it really hit me is I was giving a talk in Singapore.
Sean Hoade
This is one of the best books I've read about meditation and can't recommend it enough.
Travis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Sean Hoade on September 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For over thirty years, Ajahn Brahmavamso has been a monk in the Thai "forest tradition," a branch of Theravada Buddhism known for its strict adherence to both the spirit and the letter of the Buddha's teachings. Tibetan Buddhism is exotic and Zen is aesthetically pleasing, but for the meditation that led the Buddha himself to enlightenment, we must look to the Theravadans.

Now one of the best-known faces of Buddhism in the world (although just becoming known in the States), Ajahn Brahm is one of the most admired meditation teachers in the world, and this book shares EVERYTHING. You can take this book to your hut in the woods (or spare bedroom in your house) and work its plan to ultimate bliss.

I was lucky enough to meet Ajahn Brahm last year in Chicago at Transitions Book Place, when he was visiting in support of his book of teaching stories, Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? (An excerpt from the interview with him appears below.) As wonderful and inspiring as his first book is, Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond is what we've all been waiting for, an encapsulation of the meditation wisdom Ajahn Brahm has cultivated since 1973.

If you're interested at all in what happiness comes from meditation, PLEASE do yourself a favor and read this book. It is everything I had hoped it would be -- and let me tell you, that was a tall order after meeting the writer himself!

Q. People call you "the Elvis of Buddhism," "the Seinfeld of Buddhism." They want to make you into a celebrity. Do you ever have difficulty reconciling that with being a monk--and not just a monk, but a forest monk, which is very different from living as a famous person?

A. You know, I think one of the first times when it really hit me is I was giving a talk in Singapore.
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142 of 166 people found the following review helpful By Gerald R. Johnson on March 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ajahn Brahm is certainly one of the most dynamic and charismatic Buddhist speakers nowadays. His Friday Night Dhamma talks and seminars have now gained worldwide acclaim and have even won over my mother. Indeed, along with Ajahn Sucitto and Jack Kornfield, Ajahn Brahm was one of the first masters I encountered when I was first introduced to Theravadan Buddhism. His talks have since provided me with a lot of inspiration over the years and have helped me through some very trying times. His previous book "Truckload of Dung" contains many of his jokes, stories and anecdotes that neatly illustrate the main aspects of Buddhism and is vintage Ajahn Brahm at his best.

I must confess, however, that I found his latest book "Mindfulness, Bliss..." along with his most recent Dhamma talks on enlightenment to be somewhat troubling, not necessarily in their content, but in their absolute tone or attitude towards Buddhist practice and enlightenment. While this book contains many useful insights and references about jhanas, his relentless and recurring insistence that experiencing and attaining jhanas is the only true way of achieving enlightenment, borders on the dogmatic and could be misleading especially for beginners in Dhamma practice.

His assertion that achieving or experiencing jhanas is either the best or only way to enlightenment flies in the face of other teachings by renowned meditation masters including more senior teachers such as Ajahn Sumedho and even his own teacher Ajahn Chah. The jhanic bliss or nimittas experienced during meditation should not be attached to, nor do they in themselves constitute enlightenment and nor are they a necessary or sufficient condition for enlightenment.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Rakibe on June 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Presently when you learn meditation almost any teacher will tell you that what you are learning is from the master himself. However this unusual english book is method specific and teaches the same method that the Buddha himself was practicing and teaching in over 32 suttas of the Tripitaka. It teaches you in a practical way how to develop samadhi. Very rare to find in modern Buddhist writings.Though many reviews on here might question the validity of Ajahn Brahms teaching, they are not following Buddha's actual teaching but merely repeating the cultural constructs of Buddhist practice as learned through the voices of teachers.

When reading some of the reviewers, you have to wonder if anyone anymore actually reads through the Buddhas teaching (Tripitaka)? Or they just repeat like parrots what they learn from teachers who are not the Buddha?
If you have read more than just the standard suttas like the sattipattana etc.?
Buddha recommends jhana in over 32 suttas. In fact there is no where in the 3 sets of sutta's that Buddha teaches meditation where he also does not mention jhana. This is because it was meant to be the precursor to Vipassana. He does not recommend styles of practice like U BA Khin's (S.N. Goenka) or various other supposed vipassana styles. Have you read the LAM RIM (from Tibetan Buddhist) teachings of Tsong Kha Pha? you can actually find jhana being taught in there.
Buddha taught a system of meditation called Samatha Vipassana. The 1st part was the development of concentration and serenity or samadhi. This has 8 stages and is what Ajahm Bhram has been generous enough to teach openly.
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