Beginner's Guide to Insight Meditation

Another ex-library used-book-sale discovery: Arianna Weisman and Jean Smith's 2001 The Beginner's Guide to Insight Meditation. The copy is falling apart, checked out many times, waterstained and wrinkled. The contents are a mixed bag, mostly plodding, often mired in historical/traditional doctrine. But at times there are graceful arpeggios and glissandos, memorable well-put suggestions — especially on the themes of non-attachment, non-judgment, non-anger, and non-self. An example, from Chapter 5, on breaking away:

Each moment we live without clinging or aversion, we live in freedom, and these moments continue to build on one another. Although people uncover their fundamental nature in different ways, all who are fully awakened share the common quality of having no clinging, no greed, no hatred, and no delusion.

Uncovering our essential nature does not mean we will not experience pain. Our bodies in their very constitution have the capacity to experience pain, and they will do so as we grow older or get sick. It does not mean we will not feel sad or tired. What it means is that we are awake—we know where we are and we are present with our experience, with what life brings, without judgment or reaction or clinging. In a well-known story, the Buddha encountered curious passersby who, impressed by his startling presence, asked him if he was a king or a god. When he said no, they challenged him by saying, "Then what are you?" He quietly responded, "I am awake."

Other apt excerpts to follow ...

(cf. HowGreatThouArt (2005-03-16), ...) - ^z - 2011-08-05