on July 7, 2003
There are many ways to practice Buddhism, even many ways to interpret and practice Theravada Buddhism, the subject of this title. This is a good beginners book to some of the core practices of Theravada Buddhism, simply and clearly written. The emphasis on karuna (compassion) and metta (lovingkindness) would be helpful for students who have not yet worked on these principles. People who have already done a lot of vipassana-style meditation practice and who have done a lot of reading on the topic may find this volume too basic for them. But for people just getting into this tradition, it's a very nice introduction.
The authors run a lay meditation retreat centre at a non-functioning wat on the island of Ko Pha-Ngan in Thailand (the name of the place is Wat Khao Tham although since there are no resident monks there it's not a true wat). It's an excellent learning place for people new to vipassana. Two places in northern Thailand I would also highly recommend - especially for people who want to go a little deeper - are Wat Ram Poeng in Chiang Mai and Wat Phra That Chom Thong in Chom Thong.
on November 21, 2006
This book is a good introduction to Vipassana practice in the Theravada tradition. It does an excellent job of covering the basic belief system, practices and capturing the spirit of Theravada Buddhism. I especially liked the strong emphasis on compassion and lovingkindness.
Many other books on this topic focus on mechanics and sometimes skim the surface of the underlying attitudes that are core to the teaching. I also felt this book did a good job of explaining many basic practices such as breath, lovingkindness and walking meditation. I have found very few books bother to explain walking meditation in enough detail for it to be useful. This is a shame because it is an especially good practice for Westerners.
If you want something more in-depth, try "Breath by Breath" by Larry Rosenberg. If you are fairly advanced, then Mindfulness with Breathing would also be excellent. You can see a list of mediation resources and reviews on my profile. I teach workshops on this topic, so I am well read in this area.