Strengthening, calming, and stabilizing the mind is the essential first step in accomplishing nearly any goal. Growing up American with a Tibetan twist, Sakyong Mipham talks to Westerners as no one can: in idiomatic English with stories and wisdom from American culture and the great Buddhist teachers.Turning the Mind Into an Ally makes it possible for anyone to achieve peace and clarity in their lives.
Is the mind our enemy? It can be, suggests Shambhala International’s director Mipham in his first book. The key to peaceful and sane living, says Mipham, is training our minds. Without that training, people live “at the mercy of our moods.” Meditation is the tool that can help spiritual seekers master, rather than be mastered by, their own minds. This book blends a philosophically savvy explanation of why meditation is necessary with an artful and accessible introduction to the basics of meditation. Mipham moves elegantly from the prosaic (how to sit with a straight spine) to the profound (why one should bravely contemplate illness, aging and death). Indeed, those practicing spiritual disciplines from any tradition-Christian, Wiccan, and so forth-could benefit from Mipham’s commonsense approach to meditation. He acknowledges, for example, that the tyro might get bored, distracted or even hungry for a cookie. New meditators are likely to find a million and one excuses for not meditating. But, says Mipham gently, “at some point you just have to sit down and do it.” Mipham’s guide is distinguished by its intelligible prose; unlike many fellow travelers, he does not drown his reader in jargon. He defines Buddhist basics, like “samsara” and “karma,” clearly. Three useful appendices, outlining meditation postures and giving simple instructions for contemplation, round out the book, and a foreword by Pema Chodron is an added treat. This easy read is one of the best of the Buddhism-for-Westerners genre. ~ Publisher Weekly