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Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha [Hardcover]

Tara Brach , Jack Kornfield
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 10 2003
For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much--just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work--to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully.
--from Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance

“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” says Tara Brach at the start of this illuminating book. This suffering emerges in crippling self-judgments and conflicts in our relationships, in addictions and perfectionism, in loneliness and overwork--all the forces that keep our lives constricted and unfulfilled. Radical Acceptance offers a path to freedom, including the day-to-day practical guidance developed over Dr. Brach’s twenty years of work with therapy clients and Buddhist students.

Writing with great warmth and clarity, Tara Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. Step by step, she leads us to trust our innate goodness, showing how we can develop the balance of clear-sightedness and compassion that is the essence of Radical Acceptance. Radical Acceptance does not mean self-indulgence or passivity. Instead it empowers genuine change: healing fear and shame and helping to build loving, authentic relationships. When we stop being at war with ourselves, we are free to live fully every precious moment of our lives.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A psychotherapist and Buddhist meditation teacher in the tradition of Jack Kornfield (who contributes a foreword), first-time author Brach offers readers a rich compendium of stories and techniques designed to help people awaken from what she calls "the trance of unworthiness." The sense of self-hatred and fearful isolation that afflicts so many people in the West can be transformed with the steady application of a loving attention infused with the insights of the Buddhist tradition, according to Brach. Interweaving stories from her own life as a hardworking single mother with many wonderful anecdotes culled from her therapy practice and her work as a leader of meditation retreats, Brach offers myriad examples of how our pain can become a doorway to love and liberation. An older Catholic woman in one of Brach's weekend workshops, for example, recounts how she learned to ask God to help hold her pain. Like her colleagues Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein and others in the Vipassana or Insight meditation tradition, Brach is open-minded about where she gathers inspiration. Garnishing her gentle advice and guided meditation with beautiful bits of poetry and well-loved if familiar dharma stories, Brach describes what it can mean to open to the reality of other people, to live in love, to belong to the world. Obviously the fruit of the author's own long and honest search, this is a consoling and practical guide that can help people find a light within themselves.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Radical Acceptance offers gentle wisdom and tender healing, a most excellent medicine for our unworthiness and longing. Breathe, soften, and let these compassionate teachings bless your heart."
— Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life As It Is March 2 2004
Format:Hardcover
As the title of this marvelous book indicates, Tara Brach shows each and every one of us the path towards accepting our life as it is. This doesn't mean, as you may be wondering, never strive in the direction of change. It's just that, well, change is pretty much a given anyhow. Tara's philosophy (not necessarily writing style) reminds me of Thich Nhat Hanh and his works on mindfulness. Like the book Anger by Nhat Hanh, Tara proposes we must embrace our emotions and perceived shortcomings with the love a mother would have for it's child. There is an absolute plethora of Buddhist/Self Help books on the shelves these days that aren't really worth mentioning, but this book stands out. The most important factor is that you don't even need to be practicing Buddhism to benefit from his wisdom. Just as I have learned from such Christian writers as Thomas Merton and Anthony de Mello, Christians (or any religious tradition's followers) can learn much from this. It's the kind of imperfect life experience all of us can relate to in her work that appeals to me. She's down to earth, introspective (as opposed to preachy), and compassionately skilled in all of her words. Tara Brach holds a Ph.D. and is a clinical psychologist in addition to being a lay Buddhist priest and vipassana meditation guide. In Washington, D.C. she founded the "Insight Meditation Community." She also participates in running various workshops nationally. If your making a "books to buy" list for 2004, put this on there; it's genuinely worth the read. Thanks Tara.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not called "Radical" for nothing! March 26 2005
By SLee
Format:Hardcover
Initially borrowed this book from the library to see if it was worth buying; thought I would just entertain myself, if nothing else. Read many other meditational books but this has been the ONLY effective one that gave me the tools to help deal with the vicious cycle of self-negative thoughts. These tools are not "airy-fairy" & has been written in a most excellent way with plenty of examples of what other people have gone through & how to have compassion towards oneself. It just takes an open & willing heart. This book has been so life altering that I'm looking forward to joining one of the vipassana meditation retreats held by the author. Thanks Tara for writing this book for me!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a fellow therapist Sept. 3 2003
Format:Hardcover
Even though this book has Buddha in the subtitle, this book is the best of three worlds. Fundamentally, this is a book about awareness and awakening, which springs from a rich Buddhist tradition. However, it is also a book about the way awareness and awakening should be applied in the setting of therapy. Also, this is a book about the journey of the author, through her life, through her pain, to the fullness and divinity that is available in each moment. This makes the reading even more enjoyable and real.
Finally and for me most importantly, this is a book about pain and how saying yes instead of saying no to our pain is the true path to freedom. Ms. Brach's approach is not to act out your pain, but to become fully aware of it.
This book should be every therapist's required reading.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Tara Brach is a great teacher of psychology and an especially brilliant teacher of mindfulness, but I think her teachings of Buddhism are reductionist when it comes to their fundamental core.
I concur with what many of the reviewers have said below about how well Tara Brach brings the Buddhist teachings on awareness and compassion to light. This book is particularly valuable for those who are interested in Buddhism as a collection of practical, secular techniques to improve personal well-being and social relationships. It is "accessible", "practical" and "heart-warming". In this sense Tara Brach is a master of human psychology.
However, those who are interested in seeing what the Buddha saw (which is a possiblity for all), in living in such a way that it is no longer necessary to cultivate joy but merely have bliss follow one like a shadow, in realizing the formless compassion of the Buddhas which is beyond the limited techniques of psychology, should question some of the assertions in this book.
The primary notion Tara Brach emphasizes which, while believable from a psychological perspective, is highly questionable from a Buddhist perspective, is the notion that "awareness is the true self" or "compassion is the true self". Tara Brach describes the true self as something one knows when one has the clear mind of meditation (whether seated or in daily life) or a compassionate heart, but doesn't know when one gets distracted or angry or self-doubting. In one passage, she describes being her true self one morning, getting distracted, and then losing touch with her true self. This makes it sound like the "true self" is some separate state, which is then defined with terms like awareness and compassion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly amazing book that will change your life Nov. 18 2003
Format:Hardcover
I've read a number of books on Buddhism, and many of them include a fair amount of discussion on "suffering" and how much of our pain is perpetuated by our telling stories to ourselves. The mind (and heart) is seemingly forever tangled in a web of doubt, what-ifs, and events that exist mostly or entirely in one's head. As Mark Twain put it, "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened."
That, in essence, is what /Radical Acceptance/ is about, but it goes above and beyond the seemingly brief gloss-over treatment traditional western Buddhist books give this subject. Tara Brach has crafted an amazing book that opens your eyes to just how much suffering we tend to bring upon ourselves. Despite the very serious nature of what this book deals with, it is a delight to read. With each turn of the page, you begin to see more and more clearly. It's like having a compassionate, age-old friend guide you down the road of your own emotions and thoughts.
If you take the time to truly digest what /Radical Acceptance/ is all about, I can guarantee it will change you forever. My brief description here cannot do it justice by any measure - just as the storytelling and strategizing of the mind cannot do justice to the vibrant reality of the world. You might think a book about suffering and self-delusion would be depressing, but it is entirely the opposite. It's like suddenly being able to see with clarity after being caught up in a dense fog for so long. And that, I believe, is the highest praise you can give any book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book!
Great book! I've learned that in order to live a full life, you must accept all of the emotions that come your way. It's really helping me become present in my daily life.
Published 8 months ago by Nels
5.0 out of 5 stars Transformative.
I want to begin with qualifications. I am tough. I deal with terrible things on a daily basis. I have a thick skin and the armor has served me well. Read more
Published on April 11 2012 by Nicole Garden
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading.
What a wonderful book. It goes straight to the practical heart of buddhism, from what I can tell. Wise, uplifting, inspiring. I highly recommend it.
Published on Jan. 30 2012 by allison dysart
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Cheers for Tara
I've been involved in Vipassana for many, many years and Tara Brach has always been a huge influence on me... Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Give yourself a chance and read this book
Give yourself a chance, be honest to yourself and start healing.
It's a wonderful book. The instructions are clear and easy. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2003 by Danica Vega
5.0 out of 5 stars What an amazing book!
Thank you, Tara Brach, for a beautiful book!! Her words are full of inspiration as she explains how we can wake up from the "trance of unworthiness" to embrace life. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2003 by AAMLRunner
5.0 out of 5 stars Empowering
I think this is a wonderfully empowering book. It is a compelling collection of teachings and poetry reflecting the wisdom of Buddhism along with insights from Western psychology. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars One life to live
We only go through this life once. Tara Brach's book gives us the wisdom to make the most of what we have. Read more
Published on July 16 2003
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