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Mindfulness in Plain English: Revised and Expanded Edition Paperback – November 1, 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; Revised & enlarged edition (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861713214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861713219
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is the author of the best-selling Mindfulness in Plain English, which has sold more than 50,000 copies. He was ordained at the age of 12 as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka, earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from The American University, and has led meditation retreats, taught Buddhism, and lectured widely throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. He lives in High View, West Virginia. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is the president of the Bhavana Society in West Virginia and the author of the bestseller Mindfulness in Plain English --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It is clearly written (by an expert) and very easy to read and understand.
Charles L. Sales
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Buddhism in general and mindfulness meditation in particular.
Paul Gerhards
This book explains the Bhuddist meditation technique vipassana which focuses on breathing.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 141 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am a rationalist. I am not a mystic. I do not believe in chakras, yogic flying, psychic visions or tantric orgasm. I have a western scientific mind, and a very short patience for BS.
I loved this book.
Mindfulness in Plain English is a meditation manual that's been brutally stripped of superstitious hokus pokus. It's focused, straight-forward, practical, yet profound. It says what it means and it means what it says. And if you practice, really practice, you'll find the techniques it describes can honestly change your entire outlook on life in a frighteningly short period of time.
If you're a skeptic, and you're interested in meditation as a psychological exercise rather than a mystical mystery, you'll do well with this book. If you need your chakras petted, look at any of its 10,000,000 lesser competitors in your local flaky pseudo-eastern bookshop.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Bart Popowski on August 30, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nothing I've read comes close to "Mindfulness in Plain English." Besides explaining how to meditate, and why to meditate, Gunaratana lays out a lot of the underlying fundamentals of Buddhist thought. He provides by far the best description of nirvana(nibbana) that I've ever seen. Read this description, and you'll feel you understand the concept for the first time.

He explains a variety of ways to meditate, details the kinds of problems you'll confront, and offers a variety of methods to deal with those problems. Instead of telling you "the" way to meditate, he helps you find your way to meditate.

That's why this book is one you'll use, rather than just read. It's not like all those other trophy books we read once and then leave out for display, for ourselves or others.

His writing style reminds me of the Dalai Lama's; it is eloquent, yet to the point. It's profound, yet practical. His writing is grounded in your immediate experience. It is not abstract, esoteric or grandly philosophical.

I can't agree with the notion that this is a fast read. This isn't because it's a difficult read. There is a lot to absorb in a few pages. I found myself wanting to reread many chapters, just so I could articulate it myself. It is a very thought-full book.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Gabriela Perez VINE VOICE on January 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Okay, I only gave this 4 stars because there were parts of it where I'd have much appreciated even more information and explanation.

That said, I will admit that some of those parts dealt with processes that are hard to explain adequately in a book. But I still sat there at times thinking, "what? how, precisely, do I do that?" For example, in the section on dealing with problems that crop up during meditation, the author advises the reader to deal with physical pain by relaxing tensed muscles one by one, doing so very thoroughly. Now, that may sound simple to you. Perhaps I'm a dolt. I dunno. But I haven't a clue how to relax each muscle one at a time. I'm constantly amazed to find I have muscles where previously I thought I had none. ;-) I'm supposed to accomplish this muscle relaxation strictly through thought processes? Okay, I believe that's possible, but what do I do? Ack. Right after that, the author advises the reader to continue by going after the mental resistance next.

Now, to be fair, the author admits there are no human words to precisely explain this process. And I feel in my gut that he's right, but I'm disgustingly literal and really require precision in explanation in order to think I can get my head around something new and challenging.

Have I turned you off? If so, let me now say that I LOVE this book. I've never read anything that so clearly was written to help someone understand how to meditate for insight. The writer takes great care to explain the process as much as he is able to. The stuff that he doesn't explain--well, it's just not enough of a factor to make me dislike this book.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is by far the clearest explanation I've ever read on what meditation is and how to do it (and I've read quite a few). This book covers Vipassana ("to see clearly"; AKA, Insight) meditation, which is the type of Buddhist meditation practiced in Southeast Asia and India. It's also the type of meditation the Buddha taught. Over the 2500 years Buddhism has existed, other schools have developed, but Vipassana does not conflict with any of them. This is the core of Buddhist teaching.

Mindfulness in Plain English explains exactly what meditation is (at least what Vipassana meditation is, although it very briefly explains what other Buddhist meditation systems are about, again very clearly), why it's a worthwhile activity, and how to do it. It also answers the questions that meditators invariably end up asking of teachers. If you have a good meditation teacher, then you SHOULD buy this book. If you want to learn to meditate without relying on an experienced teacher as your guide, you MUST buy this book.

I wouldn't call this book a light read. However, it's by no means a difficult read. The author is an EXCELLENT writer, but he's covering what is essentially a technical subject, and it's virtually impossible to cover such a topic in a way that is fun.

If you're looking for a light read on Eastern spirituality, I instead strongly suggest Ram Dass' (AKA, Richard Alpert's) delightful, classic book, Be Here Now. I could also suggest, but much less enthusiastically, Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda (whose name I undoubtedly just misspelled). If you want to read an absolutely beautiful, WONDERFULLY-written book, full of great stories, that's a good introduction to Vipassana meditation and, more broadly, the spiritual life, I strongly recommend Jack Kornfield's book, A Path With Heart. If you actually want to learn to meditate, read Mindfulness in Plain English.
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