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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A manual for serious beginners, and experienced meditators, 1 Sep 2007
This review is from: Mindfulness with Breathing: A Manual for Serious Beginners (Paperback)
The book is a translation of a series of talks given by the late Buddhasa Bhikkhu, a renowned Thai meditation master and scholar of Buddhist teaching. Famous for his individual, and sometimes radical approach, when he died in 1993 he was acknowledged as among the most significant spiritual figures in the 20th century Buddhist world. His funeral reflected his life, no ceremony, no emphasis on him as a personality, but always pointing to the Dhamma, in other words, the ultimate reality of nature, or truth

The talks translated here are informal in tone, but extremely precise in giving instructions for the development of the 16 stages the Buddha proclaimed for breathing mindfulness meditation. This development covers both Samatha (calm) and Vipassana (insight) aspects of the breathing mindfulness practice. The 16 stages of breathing mindfulness culminate in the very highest attainment - enlightment - so even experienced meditators will gain much from careful and repeated readings of this text. Putting the stages into practice, by patient daily practice is the best way for lone meditators to establish mindfulness and eventually clear comprehension - but it is important to return to the text, as by our very nature we are more often than not asleep and miss or mis-interpret subtle but significant elements of the instructions for the practice. The emphasis is on direct experience, but also on following fully and completely the instructions given, if results are to be achieved. The reason for this is simple: the instructions provide a method for establishing the necessary conditions to experience the fruits of the practice. If the conditions are not in place, the results will not arise - cause is not present, so effect will not follow. Those who can should always seek a trusted and experienced meditation teacher if possible, as well as use the valuable material in this manual.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The stepping stone method for training the mind, 4 July 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Mindfulness with Breathing: A Manual for Serious Beginners (Paperback)
This book describes in great detail training the mind using breathing as a base following 16 steps as presented by Buddha in the Annapanasati Sutta. The book is an excellent guide for Westerners that are genuinely interested in training the mind following the original 16-step method. It is not a book for somebody in a hurry. One of the important points made in the book is that there is no point in starting on the next step until the previous step is fully mastered. Mastering a step does not mean understanding it but experiencing the result. These steps are like stepping stones to cross a river. You have to take the steps one after the other. The text of the original sutta is presented in the book too. The 16 steps are presented in four logical groups. The first group deals with training the body, the second with understanding and gaining control over feelings, the third deals with understanding and gaining control over the mind, and the fourth presents the fundamental truths in Buddhism like the concept that nothing is permanent (anicca) and that there is no inherent unchanging self (anatta). It is the clearest description of training the mind I have come across. You have to make considerable intellectual and physical effort to understand and practice successfully
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to Understand Book on Buddhist Meditation, 5 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Mindfulness with Breathing: A Manual for Serious Beginners (Paperback)
This book presents the most simplified understanding of Buddhist meditation that has ever been published. It is written by an eminent Buddhist scholar for those of us who had a grate deal of difficulty in grasping the deeper concepts of Buddha's teaching, especially in relation to meditation. It is easy to read and most of the in-depth knowledge in Buddhist teaching is explained in a manner even a novice reader may grasp the concepts of Buddhism without having to refer to a vast collection of other material on Buddhism. My personal view is that it is a must be read book by all those with an interest to learn and practice Buddhist meditation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breath of life, 3 April 2012
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Oliver! "Tea house warrior" (Saltaire, West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mindfulness with Breathing: A Manual for Serious Beginners (Paperback)
This is a book of a great Buddhist master and teacher from Theravada tradition Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, composed of a series of lectures and meditation instructions given by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu in 1986. They are all dedicated to a subject of Buddhist breathing meditation (Anapanasti).

In Buddha's own words Anapanasati is the most powerful tool for advancing one's practice, and can not be underestimated. Buddha himself reached the Enlightenment while practicing meditation (more advanced stages, but still based on breathing meditation practice).

If you are not a Buddhist and/or new to meditation please do not be discouraged by Buddhist terminology - it is used very sparingly in this book with every term clearly explained and used only for giving better understanding of the subject (not all words have exact English equivalents as you can imagine, so use of Buddhist terms is very appropriate). Of course if you follow Buddhist path or familiar with Buddhist principles it will be easier for you to read this book and make full use of it. But even people from other traditions will benefit from Buddhadasa Bhikkhu very clear and precise meditation instructions.

I can not rate this book high enough - it is a very rare masterpiece on a very complex subject, which is meditation. Contrary to popular belief and various self-help books on meditation you do need a very good teacher to help you at every stage of your practice, be it first step or advanced stages. He will not only help you practice correctly, thus making faster progress, but he can also pull you through various obstacles that otherwise can slow you down quite a lot. Thus, a "real" teacher is really essential to start or advance your meditation practice, but this book can fill the gap if you do not have constant access to a very good teacher, say if you only visit few retreats or classes a year (or just been to one). Then this book will help you find answers to questions you did not have a chance to ask, or which you had later.

This book makes a very good reference to traditional (Theravada) Buddhist breathing practices, from first to most advanced stages. It is fairly short and very easy to read, so can be read once very fast and then used on a daily basis as a manual helping your practice.

I read it together with Manual of Mindfulness of Breathing: Anapana Dipani by Mahasi Sayadaw and I found them to be extremely complementary to each other. Mahasi Sayadaw's book is very brief, but extremely precise and thoroughly traditional while Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's book is more informal and suited for Western audience. Both are, probably, the best books on breathing meditation I was able to read and study.
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Mindfulness with Breathing: A Manual for Serious Beginners
Mindfulness with Breathing: A Manual for Serious Beginners by Ajahn Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Paperback - 3 Jan 1998)
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