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Mindfulness in Plain English: Revised and Expanded Edition Paperback – Sep 1 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; 2nd Revised edition edition (Sept. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861713214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861713219
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #150,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By "johnskoyles" on May 16 2004
Format: Paperback
One third of what you will learn about meditation will come from your teachers and your fellow class and retreat meditators; one third from yourself on your own patient journey - and one third from a good book. That book will sometimes seem the least important third, sometimes the most important part. Having read a shelf full, I find, Mindfulness in Plain English, to be the best available how to meditate guide - it is well written, clear, graceful and it covers all the issues tackled elsewhere.
But it leaves out much advice that would have made it much better. 90% of those starting a meditation class drop out - meditation teachers such as Gunaratana rarely seek to find out why and so the small things that get in the way of even the most determined intentions. A good meditation book must tackle them - and Gunaratana like every writer does so only partially.
Here is a list of a few of things that could be added.
A beginner requires equipment to handle the 20, 30 or 40 minute duration of their meditation -- for example, a timer used in cooking (under something to dim its unpleasant alarm sound), or a CD burnt with silent tracks that end with one of bells. After a few months, time can be estimated by looking at a watch but in the initial days such checking just adds an additional and an unnecessary burden.
Ear plugs (motor cyclist shops and internet sites are a good source), or ear muffs (internet sites again check for Bilsom or Peltor brands) might be an idea. Again after a few months, distracting sounds of kids, power tools, TVs in other rooms etc are not a problem, and can even add to the practice, but in the initial stages they add that extra difficulty.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bruce on July 31 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book but IMO some of the language is anything but plain English. For example, Mr. Gunaratana writes:

1. Mindfulness sees the true nature of all phenomena.
2. It is mindfulness that notices the change.
3. Mindfulness is non-superficial awareness. It sees things deeply down below the level of concepts and opinions.
4. Mindfulness is not trying to achieve anything. It is just looking. Mindfulness simply accepts whatever is there.

In plain English we clarify the subject and predicate. How can mindfulness see, notice or accept anything? Surely the meditator is the one doing the seeing, noticing, and accepting. I would prefer it if the author had written:

1. When we are mindful we see the true nature of all phenomena.
2. When mindful, we notice the changes.
3. Mindfulness is non-superficial awareness. It helps us see things deeply down below the level of concepts and opinions.
4. We are not trying to achieve anything. We are just looking. When practising mindfulness we simply accept whatever is there.

Personification is definitely not plain English as it obscures the actor--in this case the individual practicing mindfulness.

Another problem I had was with the affirmations Mr. Gunaratana asks the reader to repeat at the beginning of each meditation session. For example: "May I be well, happy, and peaceful. May no harm come to me. May no DIFFICULTIES come to me. May no PROBLEMS come to me. May I always meet with success. May I also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable DIFFICULTIES, PROBLEMS and failures of life."

Is the author pulling his punches here? May no difficulties come to me AND may I be able to meet and overcome the difficulties of life?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mason Copeland on April 12 2004
Format: Paperback
As stated on page 1 of this book, this is a "how to" manual. It does not expound on the philosophy and theoretical aspects of Buddhism (as is also stated on the first page), but instead explains how one can start the practice of meditation. The concept of mindfulness as the practice of "living in the moment" is presented in an engaging, conversational manner.
The first chapter, "Meditation: Why Bother?" establishes the tone that meditation is an effective means to profoundly change the way one approaches life. I happen to follow a faith other than Buddhism, and the principles put forth in this book have a universal appeal that should alienate no one. Additionally, the writing has a contemporary style and the subject is presented as a practice that anyone can cultivate and apply to their daily lives. This is impressive when one considers the author was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1939 at the age of twelve.
Chapters two and three describe what meditation is and what it isn't, giving beginners a clear idea of what they can expect from the rest of the book (and from insight meditation in general). The remainder of the text lays out the specifics of the practice such as how to sit, how to focus on the breath and how to deal with problems and distractions. The final sixty-or-so pages discuss the concept of mindfulness and its application in everyday life, both as a means of self-regard and for the development of relations with others.
I highly recommend this book with its clear, engaging instruction and straightforward presentation of mindfulness meditation. It would be a worthy addition to the collection of anyone interested in this topic.
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