Mindfulness in Plain English


Bhante Henepola Gunaratana's book Mindfulness in Plain English, originally published in 1990, is a down-to-earth guide to vipassana (insight) meditation. Its style is direct talk-to-the-reader, and its instruction are meticulous on how to deal with everything between feelings one's legs going to sleep and developing psychic powers. But beyond "plain English", Guntarana does wax poetic, as in Chapter 2 ("What Meditation Isn't"):

... We are going to teach you to watch the functioning of your own mind in a calm and detached manner so you can gain insight into your own behavior. The goal is awareness, an awareness so intense, concentrated, and finely tuned that you will be able to pierce the inner workings of reality itself.


... The goal is insight. Vipassana meditation is a profound religious practice aimed at nothing less than the purification and transformation of your everyday life. ...

Often Guntarama is too certain. He shows too much acceptance of mystical and unverifiable notions about mind and the universe, too much credence toward ancient authorities and traditional doctrine, too much readiness to interpret altered brain states as physical evidence of the real world.

But he also gives solid advice, based on years of experience by many people, on how to calm one's mind, sharpen one's concentration, and improve one's self-awareness. Maybe that's more than enough! Further excerpts and commentary to follow ...

(see [1] for links to the older edition, without the afterword on lovingkindness ("loving friendliness") and the appendix on Buddhist tradition ...) - ^z - 2015-11-01