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The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness Paperback – May 27, 2008
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An illuminating perspective on the science of meditationâand a handbook for transforming our minds, bodies, and lives
In The Joy of Living, world-renowned Buddhist teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpocheâthe âhappiest man in the worldââinvites us to join him in unlocking the secrets to finding joy and contentment in the everyday. Using the basic meditation practices he provides, we can discover paths through our problems, transforming obstacles into opportunities to recognize the unlimited potential of our own minds.
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According to Budha, the basic nature of mind can be directly experienced by allowing the mind to rest simply as it is. "Unhappiness you feel is based on a mentally constructed image (p 122).We make our own problems seem much bigger than they really are (p 178)." I can see the benefits from meditation. However, as a captive in Nazi concentration camps, the problems were indeed bigger than the mind can imagine. How could my mind be calm when worries about my family and my own survival were at stake? How could my mind rest or function when the body was starving? The author writes, p.118: "survival requires a certain amount of physical nurturing. We need to be touched; we need to be spoken to." In camps which had been the bane of my life, where I spent three years, my school years, there was no one to touch me affectionately or to be touched by me. "Being human means having power, specifically, the power to accomplish whatever we want (P 179)." What power could I have when I was subjected to starvation, sickness, sadistic terror and systematic murder? The Nazis starved my body and kept my mind in a blind alley. I did not live; I could hardly exist; the only right I had was to die (as reflected in my autobiography From a Name to a Number)
THE JOY OF LIVING is very well written and brings freshness and clarity to meditation. The author is explaining, in an understandable vernacular how the mind works. This book is a helpful manual for those individuals who contemplate meditation as a panacea to overcome anxiety I am just wondering how I could have meditated, and how helpful could it be if I would have been able to meditate in concentrations camps. Regretfully, I found no references in the book applicable to the kind of situation I was subjected to.
The Rinpoche does not exactly say what God is, but the implication is that God has something to do with the nature of consciousness itself, and that we can tap into it by examining the nature of our own consciousness. At least that is what I got from it. And in fact, I have experienced (via ayahuasca) that this is quite true.
The thing I had a problem with was his exhortation to go out and find a master/guru to learn from. Which master to go to? They all have different perspectives and answers to my questions, and even worse is that they won't even directly tell you all of what they know, because this violates one of their ancient principles of not bragging about their enlightenment. So, in essence, I will just end up with whatever master pleases me most. Which means I might as well forget the master and just answer my own questions, right? Indeed, this is what I have done, and via this process, I have found the reason we came here (with the help of meditation, as well as changa, iboga, and ayahuasca, the master teacher plants). Not to be preachy, but what I have found is that we are splinters from the unitary (god) consciousness, and we splintered our unitary consciousness in order to eliminate cognitive dissonance. To do so, we need to learn to love those that disgust/anger us the most, and get them to learn the same. Until we as a species (+ all other species in the universe/multiverse) learn this, we will continue to reincarnate here in order for there to be a heaven after life (yin/yang rule) which we get to experience for a while until we are ready to give this reality another go. In other words, all of creation is an experiment in self-directed psychotherapy.
The waterfall meditation technique the Rinpoche provides is extraordinarily powerful, though I have yet to find it useful for me--perhaps someone can help me with that--perhaps that is what I need a master/guru for, to learn to more effectively meditate and find my own answers as questions arise, rather than to ask for answers directly from the guru.
I guess, in conclusion, I would say that it can be good to have a guru, as long as you keep the guru in perspective and remember that they might be just as lost as you are. A good guru will tell you what they don't know. The Rinpoche seems to do this in the book (for example, when he says he isn't sure if ancient syllables really hold special power), so I think he is probably one of the good ones.
Also, there's a reason we have both a right and a left hemisphere in the brain. Or maybe there isn't a reason, but let's be glad that we do. Because sometimes, meditation and plant teachers can give us answers that simply don't "check out" when we use our logic to determine whether these answers are really meaningful based on what we experience.