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Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook by [Brahm]
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Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Review

"Like a broom through cobwebs, Ajahn Brahm here sweeps away the mysteries surrounding the jhanas. "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" is salted with the illustrative, often witty life stories that Brahm is well known for, and he uses readily understandable language to explain what some teachers shy from. Finding this book is like finding an operator's manual for one's practice. Raising the bar for those serious about their practice, he scolds those who would 'dumb-down' nibbana and challenges us to reach for the ultimate happiness. "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" is a bold book, sure to be controversial."--John Roberts, Buddhist Council of the Northwest

"From the first word (meditation) to the last (Parinibbana), "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" is riveting, rollicking, and uncompromisingly "real." Ajahn Brahm's voice is utterly fresh. But watch out! In the greatest tradition of our beloved roshis and bhikkhus, it is also compelling and commanding. Readers seeking a sure guide to 'the bliss better than sex' will find it in this wonderful book."--Glenn Wallis, translator of The Dhammapada: Verses on the Way

"Ajahn Brahm is the Seinfeld of Buddhism."--Sumi Loundon, editor of Blue Jean Buddha

"Ajahn Brahm has not only provided great leadership for the Buddhist community, but has dedicated much of his time to helping the wider community with a strong sense of compassion, understanding and humour."--Vice-Chancellor Professor Lance Twomey, Curtin University

"This book is the kind of work that comes around once in a lifetime. I cannot recommend it more highly than that, and encourage anyone with a serious interest in the meditative disciplines taught by the Buddha to buy this book - now!"--"BuddhaSpace"
"This clear and accessible book describes meditative absorption states (jhana) and how to attain them. An excellent road map to the the development of jhana, which, as the title suggests, is beyond bliss."--"Inquiring Mind"
"Most Buddhist writers are not often lighthearted or zesty, but the British-born Ajahn Brahm is a delightful exception. Brahm is a clear communicator of the ineffable and projects both energetic conviction and calm equanimity. The promise of bliss he describes in this excellent manual is elusive, but remains a compelling goal."--"Publishers Weekly"
"Like a broom through cobwebs, Ajahn Brahm here sweeps away the mysteries surrounding the jhanas. "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" is salted with the illustrative, often witty life stories that Brahm is well known for, and he uses readily understandable language to explain what some teachers shy from. Finding this book is like finding an operator's manual for one's practice. Raising the bar for those serious about their practice, he scolds those who would 'dumb-down' nibbana and challenges us to reach for the ultimate happiness. Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond is a bold book, sure to be controversial."--John Roberts, Buddhist Council of the Northwest
"From the first word (meditation) to the last (Parinibbana), Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond is riveting, rollicking, and uncompromisingly _real_. Ajahn Brahm's voice is utterly fresh. But watch out! In the greatest tradition of our beloved roshis and bhikkhus, it is also compelling and commanding. Readers seeking a sure guide to 'the bliss better than sex' will find it in this wonderful book."--Glenn Wallis, translator of "The Dhammapada: Verses on the Way"
"Ajahn Brahm is theo

Synopsis

"Better than sex!" That's how Ajahn Brahm describes meditation, and his enthusiasm is contagious. A self-described meditation junkie, Brahm shares his recipe for bliss in this practical, energising new book. "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" is a complete, stem-to-stern guide to the subject, with precise step-by-step instructions for traversing the stages of practice and overcoming obstacles. Drawing on his working-class roots, Brahm explains difficult concepts clearly and easily, so that beginners understand them, while those who already meditate gain new insight. Full of surprises, delightfully goofy humour and entertaining stories that inspire, instruct and illuminate, this meditator's handbook encourages novices and gives a shot in the arm to more experienced practitioners.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 943 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; annotated edition edition (10 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003XKN6C8
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #532,007 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The delight of this book comes from the freshness, humour and obvious experience of the author. He inspires us to meditate and have confidence in a process that he describes with wonderful clarity.

You often read reviews which begin 'If you buy only one book this year...'

Well, this is the one! And expect to be referring to it all year and the next year. It is meant to be used as a guide - and it works. I cannot adequately express my gratitude to Ajahn Brahm. This really is the 'Handbook' I've been waiting for.
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Format: Paperback
Still reading the first half of this book, but so far - it has certainly been a very useful book written in a clear simple style. Especially suited to those with some basic meditation experience, but this is the most lucid modern-english text i have seen on the subject of meditation so far!

I don't full consider myself a 'buddhist', however I still highly recommend this book for all those intersted in what meditation actually is & how to do it. Happy meditiating! :)
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Certainly a good book on meditation technique and Jhana attainment, with some great chapters early on describing holding present moment awareness before moving to the breath, and the beautiful breath.

Elsewhere I see some flaws in the book :

- Negative view of 'worldly' life : he describes life as "the whole unredeemable lot", and often refers to a table-top device he saw once like a candle that mechanically puts itself out, a device he reveres in what he sees is its portrayal of the banality of life. Beneath the text is a contempt for 'worldly' life and a reverence for suicide through meditation. This for me contradicts his other assertions that in existence there is essentially no meaning, and certainly holding such negative views will be a barrier to meditation.

- Light-heartedness : the book is lauded for being awash with witty anecdotes, the author says proudly "he is a meditation junkie" for instance. I can only assume he has missed the point when he also describes the modern trend of "banana nibbana" (watered down buddhism) ... which he seems to be a purveyor of. It does increase the books accessibility initially, but by the end, and with the weight of what is being discussed, it seems inappropriate. And "junkie" ... ???

- Justifications : the author uses phrases like "Buddha said (some quote) in some sutra and thus we can glean from this that Buddhism is (some conclusion)". This seems illogical to me. Buddha gave many descriptions of the teachings to fit whatever audience was in front of him, and so to take one of his statements and generalise the whole teaching from it ... is obviously incorrect. 'He who justifies does not convince'.
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For those wishing to further their meditation practice. It does back track, to remind you of a few basic principals. It has a real charm that shines from the author, Ajahn Brahm who really knows what he is doing from so many years of experience. He relates well to the none Buddhist reader in a way that helps you progress with ease.
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Format: Paperback
Ajahn Brahm relates how inordinately difficult it is to become enlightened. It can only be done in a monastery which follows all eight steps of the Buddhist path. The carrot for this nigh impossible task is the ecstatic pleasure to be found in meditation, particularly the advanced meditation called the jhanas. Its rather like a millionaire telling the poor how to become rich - luck and many years hard work - but does the enormity of the task make us give up ? Yes jhanas are better than sex, but we can have sex today. For all that he is surely telling it how it is and not sugaring the pill, and for that he gets five stars. And when we reach the jhanas and dwell in ecstacy, what then ? We must give them up for Nibbana, nothingness. Funny old religion, this Buddhism.
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The jhanas are a central part of the practice taught by the Buddha, mentioned repeatedly throughout the Pali Canon and it is refreshing to see many contemporary teachers returning to the teaching of them as an alternative to the "dry insight" vipassana meditation which was only recently developed in the 20th century. In this book Ajahn Brahm says he teaches the jhanas, which he characterises as a kind of anaesthetic coma where the senses are turned off and all sense of the body and the outside world is lost. As an example of how literally he means this, he even tells the story of one of his students who fell into the state that he espouses and was rushed to hospital by his wife because she thought he had died. According to his definition, if you can sense anything, you're not in a jhana.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) these kinds of states are not what the Buddha taught as jhana. If they were, then the Pali Canon, which is full of descriptions of jhana, would be full of descriptions of monks in death-like comas. It isn't. In fact, the Buddha taught eight successive jhanas, the first four of which are states of heightened whole body awareness. Note the important difference - heightened awareness of the body, not unawareness of the body. Thought and feeling also play important parts in the first four jhanas, called the form jhanas. It is only the latter four jhanas which are called formless, where the awareness of form fades away, and these last four are not necessary for awakening.

Brahm also states that to get into jhana it is essential to have to have a "nimitta". He says that for most people this will be an imaginary bright light accompanied by a feeling of bliss. The trick is to develop this light and the feeling of bliss then get sucked into them.
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