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The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness Paperback – May 27, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This refreshing book is yet another sign that the next generation of Buddhism is creative, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary. Born in 1975 in Nepal, the author is among the generation of Tibetan lamas trained outside of Tibet, and he's also a gifted meditator. His brain activity has been measured during meditation, earning him the enviable sobriquet of "happiest man on earth." He fuses scientific and spiritual considerations, explaining meditation as a physical as well as a spiritual process. Mingyur Rinpoche knows from experience that meditation can change the brain. He experienced panic attacks as a child that he was able to overcome through intensive meditation. If diligently practiced, meditation can affect the "neuronal gossip"—his imaginative rendering of brain cell communication—that keeps us stuck in unhappy behaviors. The meditation master offers a wide variety of techniques, counseling ease in practice to avoid boredom or aversion. Less is more; practice shorter periods more often, he says. His approach will be especially welcome for anyone frustrated by meditation or convinced they're "not doing it right." This book is a fresh breath from the meditation room, written with kindness, energy and wit. Three cheers for a cheerful contemplative. (Mar. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Digital edition.
The New York Times Bestseller!
“Compelling, readable, and informed.”
“Rinpoche’s investigations into the science of happiness are woven into an accessible introduction to Buddhism”
“There is real wisdom here. Fresh and clear. Mingyur Rinpoche has offered us what may well be an essential link between the Buddha and contemporary neuroscience and physics. He effortlessly makes connections between seemingly disparate and complex disciplines, and makes the journey sparkle. His voice is generous, intimate, and refreshingly personal. As he repeatedly reminds us, our experience of ourselves and our world is none other than an interactive projection of our mind; and most important, our minds can change. Our neurons can change structure and function, merely by observing the flow of our mental activity. Through repeated familiarity with positive mind states, such as love and compassion, and by transforming our limiting mental conceptualizing into vast freedom, we can achieve the already present basic mind of clarity and knowing—true happiness. Read this book.”
“An extraordinarily clear book on the whys and the hows of cultivating mindfulness effectively in our lives. It makes use of the idiom and exciting discoveries of modern science in ways that are easy to understand and entirely relevant to the meditation practices themselves.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses and vice-chair of the Mind and Life Institute
“The first of its kind . . . a truly compelling and infinitely practical fusion of Tibetan Buddhism and scientific ideas. Mingyur Rinpoche is a teacher for our time, uniquely gifted to bridge these two worlds.”
—Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
“It is extraordinary to see the words lineage, compassion, spacetime foam, and limbic resonance all in the same book. . . . The Joy of Living is a personal, readable, and wonderfully warm and clear guide to changing the way we see ourselves and the world.”
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
“Mingyur Rinpoche is a charismatic teacher with a heart and smile of gold. The clarity, humor, and wisdom of his stories and teachings are collected in this book, and it will always be with me as a most valued companion. This is one of those rare books where you meet the author and learn from his radiance.”
“A beautiful tapestry of Buddhist insight woven together with modern science, this book is a landmark in the development of a contemplative neuroscience . . . a must-read for anyone interested in the causes and consequences of happiness.”
—Richard J. Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry and Director, Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm an atheist and I didn't find the religious aspects off-putting, because they were very downplayed. Instead, it reads more like a personal memoir and practical guide to meditation, with explanations of why meditation works (from both a scientific and Buddhist point of view).
When it comes to some of the sketchier ideas like reincarnation, he addresses them in a practical way that explains why they are important to Buddhism and meditative practice, but doesn't try to convince you - he allows the reader to make her own choice of accepting these ideas or not, still making use of the rest of the book in either case.
If you are unhappy in your life, want to try out meditation, want to learn more about Buddhist philosophy, or the science of happiness, have anxiety, depression, or too many racing thoughts, try this book.
On a personal note, I have suffered from depression for many, many years, and this book helped me significantly. It didn't have an overnight effect, but it helped me frame my thoughts and troubles in a different way. The big challenge is making the concerted effort to put these concepts into practice on a daily basis, which is what is needed for real and dramatic change.
"The mind is the source of all expereince, and by changing the direction of the mind, we can change the quality of everything we experience. When you transform your mind, everything you experience is transformed."
The book is divided into three parts. Part one is "The Ground". To trully understand the benefits of meditation, you need to understand how the mind works and what we need to do to make it work for us. Here Yongey goes into great detail to explain the different parts of the brain and their function. He also enlightens the reader with the movement of scientific research concerning the mind and how the Eastern and Western thoughs are moving toward the same goal.
Part two is The Path. Here Yongey gives detailed instructions on the various methods of meditating. His explanations are very easy to understand and follow. Unlike many books I have read on meditation, he tries to make it simple and workable. He is not so much concerned with technique as he is with results.
Part three is The Fruits. This is simply a recap of the benefits to be gained from meditation.
Even if you never plan to do any formal meditation, there is a lot to be learned from this book. Basically we grow up thinking in dualistic terms - that is self vs others, mine vs theirs, having or not having. When we think this way, we are bound by limitations. This way of thinking is a habit and habits can be changed.
There are basically two concepts that cause the majority of our problems - attachment and aversion. We become attached to the way we want things to be and have an aversion to change. The lessons about reality and preception are extremely good.
Do not expect to read this book once and become enlightened. There are many concepts that will take time to sink in and become part of your way of thinking. It is a book that will need to be studied and the concepts put into practice to give you the ultimate - The Joy of Living.
Personal history: For 7 years I have been practicing meditation and studying Buddhist texts, and going to the occasional retreat.
In my humble opinion, after reading upwards of 70 books on Buddhist meditation styles, and sitting in meditation for well over a thousand hours, this book is the best I have come across yet for me.
The reason this is the case for me is that this author is a new type of Tibetan Buddhist, he is of the lineage of Tibetan Buddhism but he is involved closely with modern science' investigation into insight meditation and related subjects. This union of Tibetan meditation practices and Buddhist philosophy with Western science resources of investigation, along with the excellent writing ability of writer Eric Swanson, has produced a tome that "enlightened" me to the practical nature of and the outcome of insight meditation to produce wisdom and happiness.
This one humbly feels he is "home" now. May all beings achieve happiness, peace and wisdom.