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Living As a River: Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change Paperback – Sep 28 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sounds True, Incorporated (Sept. 28 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591799104
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591799108
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 16.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #760,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By Nikita on May 26 2015
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 35 reviews
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Life changing Nov. 21 2010
By Tim Brownson - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is like no other book on Buddhism I have ever read before. Maybe that's because it's not really a book on Buddhism, but on life (and death). I actually hate writing reviews for books even for my own blog because when I read a book I just want to enjoy it without trying to remember specific aspects or highlight pages.

However, I just wanted to make some comments about Living As A River because it has made me think and made me feel uncomfortable with some of my current beliefs. And that is a good thing because we have to move through a state of uncertainty when changing.

What Bodhipaksa does so wonderfully is weave a mixture of the past and the present. Yes he talks about the life of Buddha as you would expect in such a book, but it is a long way from being a biography or a book full of stories set in the dim and distant past. He also uses cutting edge well researched science to make some of his points about what we really are as human beings and possibly more importantly, what we aren't.

I don't expect to get too many people rushing to say this review was useful to them, but I will say this. I really enjoyed books by the likes of Kabat Zinn, Ram Das, Thich Nhat Han, Pema Chodron and Jack Kornfield, but in my opinion this takes it to the next level and does what those do only in parts, makes the Buddhist philosophy more accessible and understandable to the masses.

It's also a damn fine read and a book I will be recommending to clients.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Review in a Word: Comforting Dec 18 2010
By Mark - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
If I could only use one word to write this review I would use "comforting".

Bodhpaksa's book is literally the most amazing thing I have ever read, period - and I'm a well read guy, I've studied Carl Jung's writings, dozens of books on spirituality and volumes on Cosmology and Astronomy. I can honestly write that I have never read anything that left me with such a sense of clarity. This work is easy to read and understand and it left me feeling very comfortable with my self (whatever that actually is... maybe it depends on how you define is?) I will recommend this book to family and friends and probably even purchase copies for some. Simply amazing.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Everything You Didn't Want To Know About Your "Self" Nov. 6 2010
By Louis N. Gruber - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Powerful insights and wise counsel March 29 2011
By Niki Collins-queen, Author - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Bodhipaksa (born Graeme Stephen in Scotland) says most of us fear thinking about impermanence and change. However our appreciation of life is enhanced rather than diminished when we experience the fragility of existence. His book "Living as a River: Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change" is both an empowering guide and a meditative practice to manage our terror in a world of change.
Bodhipaksa says we think this thing called "self" is separate and permanent. To minimize fear we imagine ourselves as small islands of stability in the river of life. To find something unchanging and reliable we might cling to an ideology, a religious identity, a sense of belonging, a group, a nation, status, material possessions, approval, power or pleasure. It turns out these are not strategies for finding happiness, peace and security. They mostly impoverish and don't deliver the goods.
The solution says Bodhipaksa is to change the way we see ourselves. We are not separate. Like an eddy in a stream we appear to be separate but we are nothing more than a mass of eddies in other currents. We exist as the sum total of our relationships with a vast web of interconnected processes. Each of us is an ever-moving flow of matter and consciousness. Ninety percent of our body's cells are bacterial rather than human. Our entire physical being is made of material that was borrowed and will be returned to the outside world. Plants, animals, soil and rocks are made from material that was formerly part of our bodies. We could not have a conscious self without having encountered other conscious selves. Disconnected from the cycles of nature we believe we are one thing and nature another.
Bodhipaksa suggests rather than managing fear by clinging we must walk towards it and learn to let it go. To stop taking things personally when they are not personal. A joyful life is one where we look impermanence in the face and see it not as the enemy but an opportunity. When we let go of our specialness, separateness and impermanence we open ourselves up to recognizing we are more special than we ever imagined. When we face reality and embrace change we see ourselves more fluid and dynamic than we think we are. When we see ourselves as inherently BECOMING we are able to respond to others with compassion and without judgment. Challenges become opportunities for creativity.
Bodhipaksa says he doesn't mourn the loss of the belief of "self." Laying down the burden gave him an expansive feeling of liberation. Contemplating the ways we are connected can help us experience gratitude, appreciation and wonder. The ultimate act of letting go is to accept one's experience without labeling it as self or other. Abandon the delusion that consciousness and the world are separate. John Muir was correct, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
Although most of the book is drawn from the Buddhist tradition Bodhipaksa seamlessly weaves science, spirituality, philosophy, biology, poetry and religion.
The book could be more succinct but the powerful insights and wise counsel are worth the read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In search of the self March 12 2011
By Steve Burns - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This book is a journey to find our self. We look everywhere for something permanent to grasp on to. The author uses the six elemental practice of Buddhism to examine each thing that we may be. The book itself becomes an insight meditation.

Am I my body? Is my head me? Am I my heart? This is not me.

Am I really composed of water? Men are about 60% water and women 55%. Am I simply water? I am not this.

Am I energy? Am I the electrical currents seen on an MRI machine? Am I the mind? I can observe the thoughts of the mind. That is not me.

I can not live without air. I must have oxygen to breathe and to live. Am I the breath? I can observe the breath, in and out, that is not me.

Do I exist in time and space. Our is all of my experience internal? Is an apple red or is it just a certain reflection of light that makes me see it as so. Is there happiness out there or is it my perception alone? Things exist out "there", but I will only know them in "here" through my senses, perceptions, thoughts, opinions, and reactions to them.

I am left with consciousness. All experience takes place in my mind. Consciousness is an activity not a thing. Perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and emotions are flowing through my consciousness but is not me. I can watch them flow through if I focus.

These things are not me, they are not mine, and I am not them.

We are are a river. Waves and currents of experience flow through us. We do not exist separated from those waves. Nothing about us is permanent, everything about us changes. There is nothing to cling to and say "I am that".

We can no more define ourselves than we can a river. Every moment our old self is being destroyed and a new self is emerging. Our minds, thoughts, body, emotions, and perceptions are changing every second.

"There is no enduring consciousness, no permanent watcher at the helm of our being, observing everything that happens and making decisions."

This book is not a self-help book it is a no-self book. Helping readers see the reality of what we are and what we are not. Showing us how to cling less to what is impermanent and accept the flow of life.

A wonderful book, true to Buddhism, true to science, and a guide post on the journey to enlightenment.