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Turning The Mind Into An Ally [Hardcover]

Sakyong Mipham , Pema Chodron
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 7 2003
We need a strong, stable mind that can be relied upon as one's closest ally, and Sakyong Mipham delivers a way to achieve one. Having grown up American with a Tibetan influence, he speaks to Westerners as no one can: relating stories and wisdom from American culture and the great Buddhist teachers in idiomatic English. Strengthening, calming, and stabilizing the mind is the essential first step in accomplishing nearly any goal. Turning the Mind Into an Ally makes it possible for anyone to succeed.

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Product Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mature Vision Jan. 14 2003
I like the voice that comes across in this book. There is a nicety of tone, a coolness that makes me think of the writings of Wallace Stegner. The author delivers the traditional Tibetan Buddhist teachings on meditation in a matter-of-fact tone. There is no dramatic language here to pull you in. No, what compels me to keep reading is the precision of the imagery. Using the fine detail of building a relationship with a horse, the author conveys the fine detail of building a relationship with one's mind. I like the uncluttered elegance of the writing. Words that come to my mind are maturity and "no-big-deal."
I've been meditating for 21 years - ho-hum, still not enlightened yet... But, reading this book refreshed my interest. After reading it, when I sat down to meditate, it was like meditating for the first time. I was fresh. I paid attention to the technique. (What a concept!) I was present. Later the same day, I took my car out on the highway. I drove 50 miles in the slow lane. I realized it was natural to just be present with my driving. My habitual tendency is: I don't like to drive. I play music to distract myself. I pass other drivers. I just want to think about getting home. This time, while I felt the pull to get ahead, I was aware of having the choice not to act on it. I just phut-phutted along behind the car in front. This time driving was just a pleasant thing to do - no-big-deal.
Anyhow, enough of that. This is a nice book. I recommend it. It's a treat. Enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning the Mind into an Ally Oct. 1 2003
This is a good book for those who are beginning meditators, those looking for information on meditation, or those who have been practicing meditation for some time. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche uses more Western language versus Tibetan or Shambhala language, which makes this easier to read and understand. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche also has expanded the traditional Shambhala meditation practice to include "contemplation" meditation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meditation A to Z March 26 2003
Sakyong Mipham has written an excellent A to Z primer on basic meditation techniques. I will keep my copy in an accessible place, because I intend to read it again and again. I recommend this book to both experienced meditation practitioners as well as to those who are interested in exploring the benefits of meditation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for everyone, new and old Oct. 5 2003
This book is great for those both brand new to the teachings, and not so new to the teachings. We all get stuck in our practice sometimes, and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche gives very practical advice on how to overcome distractions and get unstuck. It's been a joy for me to share this book with friends totally new to the teachings and learn from it together. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has translated the teachings into the language that Americans speak. The clarity that I have gained from this has been pivotal to my dharma study and practice. This book is a must have for any dharma student.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Easy Answers Feb. 22 2008
Sakyong Mipham is not some easy-answers-miracles-in-a-day guru like all those names that line the self-help section of your local bookstore. No, he centers mostly at "staying with the breath." In other words, meditation. He doesn't claim to have all the answers, solve all your problems, or show you how to put a Mustang convertible in your driveway just by thinking about it. Instead he teaches, through his western upbringing, Buddhist teachings, and eastern culture how to end "samsara," the constant yearning for next big thing, and how to find focus and peace in your own mind.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This book was written by the son of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He distills the wisdom of his father in a simple and easy to understand style of writing. After reading a few pages you will realize that the greatest enemy is your mind; the only obstacle that is making you unhappy. This book will show you how to turn your mind into your ally. A good book for anyone pursing peace of mind and harmony with others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars U need a good foundation before the deep stuff July 25 2003
By A Customer
I read the Sakyong's book and also attended his program based on this book. I have to say the book was very easy to read. What came across even more strongly in the program was how you must discipline your mind before you can even move on to ANYTHING else. Hearing the Sakyong speak and working with an MI, this point was really driven home. I love CTR's books too as he was so very incredibly clear and insightful and an outstanding teacher, but it never motivated me to learn to meditate. The Sakyong made me want to. Now I have a meditation practice...every day. He is right. You have to do it. He recommends going back to the book when you need help in maintaining motivation for practice. I'm so glad he is teaching at the beginning level!!! If you ever have an opportunity to hear him teach, jump on it!! In between, there's this great book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Portable Zabuton! Feb. 24 2003
The Sakyong's book is like a portable Zabuton (cushion for meditation). The book provides a solid, yet comfortable, base for the practice of meditation: it's not too soft and not too hard. While 'Turning the Mind Into an Ally' does not provide an in-depth philosophy of Buddhism, it does offer a great overview of meditation practice for beginners. For this reason alone, it is unfair to evaluate the book against the work of the Sakyong's father, Chogyam Trungpa. 'Turning the Mind Into an Ally 'is simply a new route down a very old path. Some may actually prefer this to some of the more celebrated texts on Buddhism, many of which can be confusing or intimidating to those new to practice.
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