Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Turning the Mind into an Ally Hardcover – January 6, 2003
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From Publishers Weekly
Is the mind our enemy? It can be, suggests Shambhala International's director Mipham in his first book. The key to peaceful and sane living, says Mipham, is training our minds. Without that training, people live "at the mercy of our moods." Meditation is the tool that can help spiritual seekers master, rather than be mastered by, their own minds. This book blends a philosophically savvy explanation of why meditation is necessary with an artful and accessible introduction to the basics of meditation. Mipham moves elegantly from the prosaic (how to sit with a straight spine) to the profound (why one should bravely contemplate illness, aging and death). Indeed, those practicing spiritual disciplines from any tradition-Christian, Wiccan, and so forth-could benefit from Mipham's commonsense approach to meditation. He acknowledges, for example, that the tyro might get bored, distracted or even hungry for a cookie. New meditators are likely to find a million and one excuses for not meditating. But, says Mipham gently, "at some point you just have to sit down and do it." Mipham's guide is distinguished by its intelligible prose; unlike many fellow travelers, he does not drown his reader in jargon. He defines Buddhist basics, like "samsara" and "karma," clearly. Three useful appendices, outlining meditation postures and giving simple instructions for contemplation, round out the book, and a foreword by Pema Chodron is an added treat. This easy read is one of the best of the Buddhism-for-Westerners genre.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Mipham is director of Shambhala International, an umbrella organization representing over 100 meditation and study centers that was founded by his father, the renowned spiritual leader Chogyam Trungpa. His first book offers basic guidelines to meditation or peaceful abiding for those interested in learning more about Buddhist meditation. His instruction and discussion of the virtues of peaceful abiding are followed by suggestions for thematic contemplative meditations on topics such as birth, old age, and death. Having grown up in the United States but with traditional Tibetan training, Mipham is able to connect the traditional practice with the Western mind-set. He also brings a youthful spirit to his writing, with frequent use of outdoor sports (e.g., horseback riding, archery, golf, and hiking) to embellish his teachings metaphorically. Unfortunately, this work lacks the passion and depth so notable in his father's writings, and the text breaks little new ground. Those new to Tibetan Buddhism will find more inspirational reading in books by the Dalai Lama, and there is more in-depth instruction on Tibetan meditation practices in works such as Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's A Meditation Handbook. Recommended for libraries with large Buddhist collections.
--Annette Haines, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book has four parts. Part One answers the question "Why Meditate?". In order to control and use our mind, we must discover how it works and train it to not go bucking wildly around, have knee-jerk reactions, or be overburdened by stress and a smorgasbord of emotions all the time. He explains that Buddhists believes that humans are inherently peaceful and our minds joyous and calm by nature. Through discovering and accepting life's four inherent qualities -impermanence, suffering, selflessness, and peace- through meditation, we can put our mind in this natural state. Part Two, "The Art of Peacefully Abiding", tells us how to meditate beginning with getting the correct posture, then placing our mind on the breath. There are several chapters of advice on how to keep one's mind on the breath, including chapters on boredom, laziness, procrastination, and staying focused.
Part Three, "Turning the Mind Into an Ally", discusses contemplative mediation (AKA Vipassana), where the previous parts concerned Shamatha or "peaceful abiding". This part contains the most religious philosophy, about 75 pages of it in chapters 14-18. Mipham essentially presents a moral system, and we see how it relies upon meditation. Part Four is short and philosophical, concerning where meditation and its insights fit in the world. "Turning the Mind Into an Ally" is repetitive at times, but the author is probably just trying to be clear and emphatic. He gives good practical advice, anticipating all the pitfalls, difficulties, and questions that beginning meditators are likely to have. This was the first book I read about meditation, and I found it to be excellent practical advice on Shamatha and a nice introduction to the Buddhist beliefs behind it, whether or not you subscribe to them.
It's likely you don't think of your mind as an enemy. But, for many of us an untamed, out of control mind is just that. I've known for years that my thoughts race. I knew I wanted to get control of the flashes of anger that could just pop out or the rush of fear that could be triggered by a single thought. One thought leads to another which leads to another and you "wake up" minutes later to find you've said or done something you regret. Meditation helps us study the often unconscious habitual patterns our minds fall into, so that we can see those things happening as they happen and, ultimately, before they happen. Buddhist practice isn't so much a religion as it is a disciplining of the mind and an attempt to face ultimate reality. When I first started reading the book, it seemed too basic for me, like Meditation 101. It's written in non-technical language and is full of real-life illustrations that make the material easy to read and grasp. One metaphor the author uses throughtout the book is comparing the mind to a wild horse that we need to tame and that once tamed is a powerful vehicle to take us where we want/need to go. I also appreciated that he did not talk about the ego and how it's something we have to kill. The untamed mind is not something to be killed but something to be tamed. The goal of meditation is to transform the wild horse into the windhorse which we can ride to boundless joy and freedom.
I've been meditating and following the breath for a few years now. My meditation practice has been spotty (at best). This book motivated me to get back on to the cushion. Thanks to this book, for the first time I think I really understand the purpose of following the breath which is not just following the breath for the sake of counting it or even experiencing it but for the sake of training your mind to focus on what you want to focus on and set aside distractions. This will inevitably fail and you will find yourself drifting and have to re-focus your attention. This act, repeated time and time again is like yoga for your mind, making it stronger and allowing you to see how it works. After the mind has been trained in this technique, we can begin to truly contemplate ultimate reality. The joys of being born human, the fact that our actions have consequences, the natural progression of growing older, becoming sick and dying, having compassion for all sentient beings. And, when we are off of the cushion, we actually have some chance of being able to get control of those patterns we so easily fall into when our mind is running out of control.
I think this is an excellent book for beginning meditators to those who may have begun meditation a while ago, don't fully understand it or just need a reminder of why it's so important and how it can help. You don't have to be Buddhist or even spiritual to get something out of this book and out of meditation. It's a book I'm glad to have in my library and one that I'm sure I'll be reading again just to remind myself of how and why to continue to practice.