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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best introduction to Buddhism I've ever found.
I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK HIGHLY ENOUGH!

For those new to Buddhism, this slim volume is the best concise, non-sectarian, comprehensive introduction I've found in twenty years.
Answers the "basic" questions about such topics as: morality, training the mind in concentration, "what causes unhappiness?", "what is Mindfulness...
Published on 19 Sep 1997

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice introduction
This book is a fairly succinct introduction to the ideas and belief system of Vipassana mediation. I think it is mainly useful as a primer for those considering taking part in a 10-day Vipassana retreat, which I haven't done myself. However, it is not a substitute for talking to people who have been on it themselves. It is perhaps the course textbook, but you would also...
Published on 7 Oct 2010 by duncw


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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best introduction to Buddhism I've ever found., 19 Sep 1997
By A Customer
I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK HIGHLY ENOUGH!

For those new to Buddhism, this slim volume is the best concise, non-sectarian, comprehensive introduction I've found in twenty years.
Answers the "basic" questions about such topics as: morality, training the mind in concentration, "what causes unhappiness?", "what is Mindfulness meditation?", "how can it help me?". No history or cultural baggage, just the fundamentals.

- I literally buy this book in volume quantities several times a year so I can give it away to people who are curious about Buddhism!

(For more detailed info on meditation theory and instruction, I highly recommend "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate Vipassana text, 17 May 2010
Please note: this is not a religious cult or phoney spiritual entertainment, this technique is a strictly practical & non-sectarian form of meditation.

If you've already experienced a 10 day Vipassana meditation course, this book will be a helpful & exhaustive reminder of many of the topics covered in Goenkaji's evening discourses. The book is divided into 10 well-structured chapters covering a particular aspect of the Art of Living: each contains a main text, a Q&A section with Goenkaji and a story depicting the lesson.

If you haven't yet taken a course, this book may represent a useful introduction to what this meditation technique is all about. Although - as Goenka himself says - reading about it without practicing is a bit like reciting a doctor's prescription over & over without actually taking the medicine.

I would strongly recommend giving this technique a shot. Even if you're the sort of person who wouldn't normally venture into this kind of activity (such as I was), the benefits in daily life are astounding.

Be happy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice introduction, 7 Oct 2010
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This book is a fairly succinct introduction to the ideas and belief system of Vipassana mediation. I think it is mainly useful as a primer for those considering taking part in a 10-day Vipassana retreat, which I haven't done myself. However, it is not a substitute for talking to people who have been on it themselves. It is perhaps the course textbook, but you would also want to hear about the students' experiences.

The book is not a manual on how to do Vipassana mediation. (Sources on the internet and books like Osho's Meditation do give specific instructions on Vipassana mediation technique, though I couldn't vouch for their authoritativeness.)
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a modern classic exposition of an ancient technique, 18 Feb 1998
By A Customer
This meditation can free you from migraine, as the teacher S.N. Goenka's own experience proves the happiness one may benefit from the meditation practise. It encourages you to attend a practical 10 day course which is well organised and charges no amount from the student. A spirit motivated by conviction in dhamma and an international academy in bombay establishes itself to be a professional body in offering courses in vipassana and dhamma. If one visits the main centre in bombay, one can meet the principal teacher S.N. Goenka and see that his work is really commentable. One can sense his compassion and sincerity in his efforts to help people, and you can feel immeasurable happiness in seeing how he helps immates , prisoners who suffers so much mental agony by introducing meditation and how they are transformed after the noble dhamma is taught and practised. They return to society to become good people The art of living mindfully, by focusing on one's breathing and comtemplation of feeling are just some of the foundation of mindfulness so much exphasized in ancient buddhist texts. It is not a book written to just impress the general reader of any of its organised theory, but one of direct experience and aim at to encourage practical aspects of meditation. This book has no sectarism and it brings you to realise the nature of your own physical and mental structure, by observing ones bodily sensations. It is said that one can understand the emotional aspects of human and attain wisdom and compassion when one penetrates the true nature of ones aggregates, through mindful introspection . For example, a meditator contemplating of the sensations of his body experiences pain, happy and neutral sensations. In understanding this, he realises all beings by nature experience this and would not cause pain to any beings, such as pouring hot water to a rat or beating animals, hurting people etc. Finally, in the world of today, this book introduces one to its courses which teaches the practise of loving kindness meditation, such more in need of demand in midst of the samsaric conditionings of the world such as war, poverity and disaster, may all beings practise insight meditation and reach to true happiness, true liberation. May you read this book and attend a 10 days course taught by s.n. goenka or his assistants and derive benefit. Your in the truth Asoka lai hoe peng singapore feb 1998
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Talk About the Book, You Have to First Talk About the 10-Day Course, 5 Jun 2007
First, a very wee bit about me: before learning the meditation technique taught by the Indian-Burmese meditation master S. N. Goenka, I'd practiced in other traditions for more than 15 years and completed many long retreats. Initially, I only attended a Goenka course because the 10-day retreat was offered for free (I'm a frugal sort of guy). But I left with a priceless gift, convinced this type of meditation truly works better than other kinds.

To call it a "Goenka course" is actually a little misleading since it suggests that Goenka invented this type of meditation. He didn't. He learned it in Burma, where it is believed that over the millennia Burmese monks and meditation teachers have preserved the exact method the Buddha himself used. Whether or not this meditation technique is truly the Buddha's original practice, doesn't really matter much; once you try it, it is so powerful, you're likely to see how this approach can truly free us from negativity.

Spread almost solely through word of mouth, Goenka's courses are now offered on every inhabitable continent on the globe. According to the independent Buddhist magazine Buddhadharma, each year an estimated 100,000 people take a Goenka course. This means he has probably taught more people Buddhist meditation than anyone in history--including the Buddha himself! (Admittedly, the comparison is a bit silly since the Buddha wasn't able to offer retreats via audio and videotape.)

It's worth noting, that although a layman, Mr Goenka, who is independently wealthy, has never made any money from teaching Buddhism. As already noted, his famous ten-day meditation courses are offered for free. After finishing a course, students may give a donation (to the nonprofit foundation that takes care of the expenses of running a meditation center), but contributions are totally voluntary and there is never any pressure to give.

Goenkaji, as his students call him, has a beautiful voice, a delightful accent, a grandfatherly warmth, and a terrific sense of humor. These qualities work well to balance his passion and seriousness of purpose. During a course, he gives a clear and accessible framework for understanding Buddhism and how to do this type of meditation. Through collaboration with the assistant teacher Bill Hart, The Art of Living faithfully presents Goenka's teachings from his 10-day course--minus the meditation instructions and, naturally, the sound of his lyrical voice.

The book's strength's are those of Mr. Goenka's: clarity and accessibility. Most of his explanations are illustrated with a traditional Buddhist parable or with a story from his extensive teaching experiences. The book's weakness is that Mr. Goenka's charisma is diminished in print. Like any great teacher or storyteller, the book can't recreate his uncanny sense of timing and his animated voices. Perhaps this weakness isn't apparent to those who read the book before taking a course (I took a course before reading the book). Calling this a "weakness," though, is not to dis' The Art of Living, which is a valuable resource in its own right. It is helpful to have Mr. Goenka's presentation written down and the book includes some Q & A not presented during a course (Mr. Goenka, who was born in 1924, and now has compromised health has retired from active teaching).

The Art of Living is generally read by two types: someone who has recently finished a ten-day Goenka retreat or by someone considering taking a course. For the first group or "old students", the book is a great refresher and offers details you may have missed on the video or audio tape. For the total newcomer, there is a minor dilemma: is it best to know what to expect before you go or to go fresh so you get the full impact of his words when you hear them "live." Since I took my first course before reading the book and had a powerful experience, that's what I'd recommend. But if you haven't made up your mind that you're definitely going to a course and you want more info, then by all means read the book first. The important thing is to get yourself to a course (yes, I know 10-days is a long time-except if you try to remember what you did over the last week and a half and it seems to have gone by in a flash).

If I could be immodest for a moment, the book I wrote--Beyond the Breath: Extraordinary Mindfulness Through Full-Body Vipassana Meditation (Tuttle Publishing)--is also likely to be of interest to anyone who has taken a Goenka course or who is considering taking one (and it is also likely to be of interest to anyone interested in meditation or Buddhism). While the book stands on it's own, in many ways it complements The Art of Living. To help explain why this meditation method works so well, Beyond the Breath is much more apt to refer to scientific research than a traditional parable. For instance, Beyond the Breath explains why Goenka and the Buddha's advice to live a moral life makes so much sense based on what we now know about evolutionary psychology; it also explains the essence of Buddhist practice on an easily understood biochemical basis. So while The Art of Living offers wonderful stories and great homespun analogies that make good common sense, Beyond the Breath, will be especially helpful for those who want to know WHY this method (and Buddhist practice in general) works so well. Such insight isn't just an intellectual exercise; greater understanding leads to greater confidence in actually doing the practice.

But whether or not you read either book, I encourage you to take a course. If you want to check out more about Goenka's organization and courses, go to www[dot]dhamma[dot]org.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction, 30 July 2009
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Sander Claassen (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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In preparation of the 10 day course I am going to follow later this Summer, I wanted to read more about Vipassana. This book is excellent. It is not a handbook "how to do Vipassana meditation", but instead Hart describes the ideas behind Vipassana in a very clear way. Some people say that one should go completely unprepared to the 10 day course, and let everything simply happen to you. Even though I have not yet followed the course, I expect I will have benefit from the more theoretical background as given in this book, once I start with the meditation itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 14 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Art of Living:: Vipassana Meditation (Paperback)
I have been to the course and wanted to read the book as well. It's great, however I don't think it would give much without the course. It could maybe be something you read while you're deciding whether to go on the course or not. A great buy price-wise (I got it discounted) and very quick to arrive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vipassana Meditation, 18 Feb 2011
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R. Field - See all my reviews
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Excellent in all respect. Easy to find, order and get delivered.
Well written, easy to read and understand. A first class introduction to Vipassana Meditation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars virtuous truth., 2 Feb 2011
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Mr. N. Evans (wales) - See all my reviews
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You could read loads of books, spend your whole life searching and still miss the valuable teachings of the buddha. Or you could read this book and day by day, practice a little meditation and gradually develop your practice. This book alongside a ten day course will help you develop the insight needed to understand the written material. Once you have experienced some form of reality, your inner peace will develop. There is no doctrine or should do, could do here, its just practice. This book alonside meditation practice (not easy) can transform your life, every step or experience can be fully examined and transformed into peace. I am so glad that I found this small modest book. It really is the truth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 July 2014
This review is from: The Art of Living:: Vipassana Meditation (Paperback)
a must read and put into practice by all :-)
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The Art of Living:: Vipassana Meditation
The Art of Living:: Vipassana Meditation by William Hart (Paperback - 30 Dec 1988)
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