Hard enough to realize that everything I have will eventually be taken away, that my body will age and die, that nothing is permanent--but then I always have my self, that immutable, indestructible core of my identity. Right? Wrong. Buddhism teaches that there is no permanent "self" after all, and that clinging to that concept is a cause of great suffering. Such is the major thesis of Bodhipaksa's book, and he fleshes out this teaching in great depth. He also gives a variety of suggestions for assimilating and living this truth, leading to a great sense of liberation.
Well, it's a challenge, but the author does a masterful job of explaining his points with great wit and verve and overwhelming scholarship. He uses Buddhist texts and abundant scientific research, in the fields of neurobiology, genetics, psychology and more. Much more. It's a treasure-house of cutting edge information. The book may not get you to enlightenment, but it will get you thinking and reevaluating some of your most cherished understandings.
Bodhipaksa writes in an easy, flowing style, at times a little long-winded, and sometimes repetitious. Still, he has digested so much scientific research and presents it so well, that you have to keep reading. He even tells a little (too little) about himself and his own spiritual search. He includes full citations for the research he uses, and also includes suggestions for the readers' own spiritual practice. If you're interested in what a contemporary spiritual master has to teach, this may be just the book for you. I recommend it. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.