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Living in Blue Sky Mind: Basic Buddhist Teachings for a Happy Life Paperback – April 1, 2016
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From the Author
Living in Blue Sky Mind began as short talks that I gave to children, parents, and grandparents at Daifukuji Zen Buddhist temple in Kona,Hawaii. (For the youngest among us in the family gatherings, I read a children's picture book.) To further spread the Dharma, I had the idea of publishing the talks in a blog that I called, "I Can See Clearly Now." By the time I published about a hundred talks as posts, the blog had amassed nearly twelve thousand views. Like myself, I think people are searching for ways in which they can think, say, and do things that bring caring and wisdom into their lives and into the lives of everyone around them. We all want to be happy!
About the Author
Richard Gentei Diedrichs grew up in Los Angeles. He edited travel and health magazines in Seattle, worked as an editor at the schools of Engineering and Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and then taught in public elementary schools around the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the author of four books.
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Diedrichs infuses his writing with stories of his childhood to help explain the eightfold path to enlightenment. The anecdotes let the reader know how the path manifests itself in everyday life. He says, "Life is exactly what it is, right in front of us, in every moment."
At the end of each chapter the author poses questions to make the reader reflect on what was just read and how it makes us feel.
Living in Blue Sky Mind takes the reader on a spiritual journey to self-understanding. The book is written simply and honestly and serves as a perfect reference guide for living a good life.
The author uses these talks to explore all the major topics in Buddhist philosophy and practice. In simple, straightforward prose, he explains key Buddhist concepts such as the 4 Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, the Perfections, the Wisdoms, the 3 Refuges, the Factors of Enlightenment, and the 3 Poisons that trap us. Living in a Blue Sky Mind will give the beginning practitioner a very good understanding of what one might believe and do while living as a Buddhist. At the same time, even a long time student of Buddhism can benefit from the book’s simple reminders.
The chapters are short, but the lessons are both powerful and specific. Many are punctuated by a personal story that places the teaching in the context of our daily decisions. For example, in “How We Talk,” the author describes the childhood experience of laughing and playing with his brother. They are having a great time, until he unthinkingly “trash talks” his brother, and turns their collective joy into collective misery.
The author’s ambitions go far beyond getting us to play nice in the sandbox. Mr. Diedrich’s wants to change our world, as he makes clear in the introduction to Living in a Blue Sky Mind:
“I sincerely believe that if every human on Earth meditated regularly, and followed even the spirit of Buddha’s teachings as I have described them here, we would live in entirely different world, a world based on lovingkindness, compassion, and wisdom.”
Changing the world may be a tall order, but Living in a Blue Sky Mind will certainly help readers just starting out on the path of Buddhism and meditation make practical sense of the Buddha’s teachings, which could easily change their lives.
The book has certainly made a subtle but meaningful change in my own life. As someone who once spent many years in the academic study of Buddhism, I still read plenty of Buddhist philosophy, but I’ve only loosely maintained my Buddhist practice. Reading Living in a Blue Sky Mind re-affirmed my need for a daily practice. I am setting the book next to my zafu, so that I can re-read the chapters as Dharma reminders prior to my meditation sessions at home.
Each lesson is presented in a concise and simple manner. This style allows for ease in reading and relating to the material. The inclusion of stories from Diedrich's own experiences provide heartfelt examples of how to practice greater awareness and choose more honest and loving actions in everyday life situations. The questions for reflection at the conclusion of each lesson are particularly thought provoking, offering the opportunity to explore personal beliefs.
Living in Blue Sky Mind is a gem of a resource for anyone who is open to learning about Buddhism, mindfulness practice, and living a happier and more compassionate life.