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Dancing With Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering Hardcover – April 15, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Recommended for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the Four Noble Truths and how to make them an intimate part of life. --Elephant Journal: Book review
 By Todd Mayville

A handbook for those of us who wish to lessen our suffering. --"Wise Brain Bulletin" By Rick Hanson

From the Author

I'm pleased to introduce you to Dancing with Life. It is my hope that by reading this book you will discover a new relationship to suffering that allows you to live more fully.

Even under the best of circumstances, life is challenging, and much of the time it is difficult. It is always uncertain, constantly changing, and mostly out of your control. Whether it is taking you on a wonderful ride or stepping on your toes, life will move you with the rhythm and in the direction of its own unfolding, regardless of your best intentions. Life dances and you must dance with it. This is the necessary price and mysterious gift of being alive.

If life is going to dance with you, then what kind of dance partner do you wish to be? Finding a way to be at ease with the dance itself is a crucial skill in finding freedom and meaning in life. 

Dancing with Life teaches you how to move from suffering to joy in your life.

This book does not offer academic theories or vague promises of finding happiness. Rather it presents a practical approach for dealing with pain and hardship based on the Buddha's teaching of the Four Noble Truths. It leads you along the path of exploring suffering--all suffering, but yours in particular--in order to reach a destination where you can experience what is called a "direct" or intuitive knowledge of the meaning of suffering in your own life. Through this intuitive knowledge, you can find a new relationship with your suffering that will bring you increased meaning, joy, and liberation, no matter how difficult your life may be. 



Other spiritual teachers have offered advice on how to deal with pain and hardship, but it was the Buddha who specifically focused on liberation from suffering as the path to liberation in life. In order to take the Buddhist approach, it is not necessary for you to adopt a creed, sacrifice your religion, or transform yourself into some new person. You simply must have faith in the possibility that understanding your suffering can bring about a radical change in how you experience life.

I feel confident that the Buddha's wisdom provides a way--not the way, mind you, but a way--into a more meaningful relationship to life. I base this judgment on my own life experiences, as well as the experiences of my students. May this book help you learn to dance with life--your life just as it is.

With Metta,

Phillip Moffitt
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Printing edition (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594863539
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594863530
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William H. Coffin on June 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of the Dharma books that I've read fall into two categories: lightweight new-age fluff or heavily-footnoted scholarship. This book avoids both extremes. It's very compactly written, with no apparent filler. (If anything, I think he is too brief in touching on some important points.) I find the title of the book to be a bit unfortunate, but it's actually appropriate to the subject matter.

The book is structured around the Four Noble Truths, and as a long-time Buddhist (with a strong predilection for scholarly detail) I thought that it couldn't teach me anything new. It did, though, and on a number of levels. You might think you know all about the 4NT, but this version from the Samyutta Nikaya really adds a new dimension, and is directly applicable to one's practice.

In short, I give this book a pretty-much unqualified rave. A few stylistic weaknesses and an overuse of italics, but in content it's deeply inspiring and immediately useful.
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Format: Hardcover
As a long time practitioner in the Theravada tradition, I expected this book to be a bit "light" on content. In reality, this is one of the best workbooks for walking the path that i have come across. Moffit interprets Ajahn Sumedho's explication of the 12 aspects of the four noble truths in terms of modern life, and thereby turns what was previously an intellectual teaching into an eminently practical day-to-day guide for real life in a hectic, stressed-out world. I have read this one over and over as we learn, forget and relearn these vital teachings, and progress deeper in understanding
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Format: Hardcover
Phillip Moffit has articulated the core teachings of the Buddha in accessible and down to earth ways that relate soulfully and imaginatively to daily life. The teachings are affirming; and one cannot help but feel empowered and befriended by Phillip's nurturing voice and courageous stance.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Perhaps the best Dharma book I've read. Like all gifted teachers, Phillip presents complex ideas in a way that makes them easy to grasp - regardless of one's level of practice. The book is readable, and the concepts can be readily applied to daily life. Dancing with Life is a great teaching tool too - one that I'll use for years to come.
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Format: Hardcover
Dancing with Life. This book can make a difference!
Although a student of yoga for many years, I had never explored Buddhist philosophy and meditation. Phillip Moffitt came to Seattle and talked about his book Dancing with Life. I bought the book with a great deal of curiosity, and it quite literally blew me away. It was as though Moffitt was adressing each chapter directly to me. ALL the chapters speak to the very heart of what it is to be human, deep sorrow and joy alike. He speaks with passion, yet plainly, leading you through the Buddha's Four Noble Truths: a path for finding freedom from suffering. Moffitt puts on the page so many personal insights as to how we may move to living our lives more happily, more at ease, regardless of daily difficulties, struggles. Hope!
As an artist, I also especially loved the "dancing with life" metaphor he spins, interwoven with the beautiful poetics of T. S. Eliot, creating a brilliant fabric that you want to wrap, embrace yourself with over and over again. Since reading the book, I have joined a meditation study group and find myself on my meditation cushion several times a week. DWL is one of those rare books that can influence you. This book can make a difference!
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Format: Hardcover
Moffitt's book is a gem: it is a handbook to help us develop and hone our skills so that we respond to our suffering in a way whereby we are not defined by it. The book--an explication of the Four Noble Truths, which is the Buddha's primary teaching--is well organized, full of examples from Moffitt's life and the lives of his students, and is eminently readable, His style is lucid and alive, and his book is a treasure to savor. I highly recommend this book to anyone whether or not they are familiar with the Buddha's teachings.
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Format: Hardcover
Written by a man who walked away from his position as CEO & Editor in Chief of Esquire Magazine, this treatise is the real thing! Given his command of knowledge in all matters literary, what could have been another cerebral exercise is in fact a work of heart.

Two days ago, I encountered Phillip walking down a rural road at sunset. In silence, we passed one another. Although, I don't really know this man, there existed in that moment an implicit recognition of mutual presence and purpose. When our gaze met and held, I found there... joy, a radiance, peace. No kidding.

Having just finished my read of "Dancing with Life", I thought, "here is an author, a teacher... who literally 'walks his talk' ".

The book is like that--filled with easily understood and accessible content, literary references, stories, metaphor, and allegory. He skillfully integrates case examples from the lives of his students, and wisdom gleaned from years of study in the original Buddhist texts. Backed by his very real practice and lived experience, the content comes alive in one's heart, and is not easily forgotten.

A central theme encourages the reader not to rely on conceptual teachings of the Four Noble Truths; rather, to intentionally pursue a 'lived" or "felt experience" of the insights through the practice of mindful meditation. Ultimately, the possibilities are limitless.... to fully embrace all of life at T.S. Eliot's dynamic "still point" is readily available... that place where suffering and joy passionately tango together in the dance of life. A highly recommended read!
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