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Lions Roar : November 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2012 85 BY ANDREA MILLER Books in Brief THE FOUR FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS IN PLAIN ENGLISH By Bhante Gunaratana Wisdom Publications 2012; 192 pp., $15.95 (paper) The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English unpacks the Satipatthana Sutta, a pivotal talk or perhaps series of talks said to have been given by the Buddha. Mindfulness of the body is the first foundation of mindfulness; it involves recognizing that the body is not a solid unified thing but rather a collection of parts. This recognition helps us relax our identification with the body—the idea of the body being “me” or “mine.” The second foundation of mindfulness relates to feelings. “As we watch each emotion or sensation as it arises, remains present, and passes away, we observe that any feeling is impermanent,” writes Bhante Gunaratana, who is also the author of the bestselling Mindfulness in Plain English. Similarly, our thoughts are impermanent and we realize this when we contemplate the third foundation of mind- fulness: mindfulness of mind. Finally, there is the fourth founda- tion of mindfulness, the mindfulness of dharmas, or phenomena. With this foundation we are reminded that the truth is within us. “The roots of suffering are within us,” says Gunaratana. “And the method for eliminating suffering is within us as well.” FEAR: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm By Thich Nhat Hanh HarperOne 2012; 176 pp., $25.99 (cloth) THE POCKET THICH NHAT HANH Compiled and edited by Melvin McLeod Shambhala Publications 2012; 240 pp., $7.95 (paper) In Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, Thich Nhat Hanh addresses the role mindfulness can play in letting go of our fears. We are afraid of being powerless, he teaches. But if we live in the present moment—if we have mindfulness—we will have the power to look deeply at our fears and understand their source. At that point, fear will no longer control us and we will touch the ultimate joy. We’ll realize that right now we’re okay. Our eyes can see the beauty of the sky and our ears can hear the voices of the people we love. Don’t be misled by the apparent simplicity of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings, writes Melvin McLeod in the introduction to The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh. “It takes a long and hard journey to arrive at such clarity, in which the problems of life are finally resolved in plain, essential language that makes deep truths available to all who want to see them.” A compendium of the renowned Zen master’s teachings, The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh delves into everything from politics to the Pure Land and from hugging meditation to healing the past. A SENSE OF DIRECTION: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful By Gideon Lewis-Kraus Riverside Books 2012; 344 pp., $26.95 (cloth) Ever since learning about el Camino de Santiago in a university Spanish class, I’ve wanted to go on a pilgrimage. In my mind’s eye I’ve imagined that I would have no pack; the terrain would be both flat and idyllic, the temperature mild, and the breeze soft. Reading A Sense of Direction disabused me of these misty- eyed notions of pilgrimage but did not make me any less keen to pack my bags. Author Gideon Lewis-Kraus made three tradi- tional pilgrimages, which he chronicles in this book: the afore- mentioned Catholic el Camino de Santiago in Spain; a Bud- dhist circuit of eighty-eight temples in Shikoku, Japan; and an annual mass migration honoring a Jewish mystic in Ukraine.