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Don't Take Your Life Personally Paperback – 4 Aug 2010
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I purchased this book because of the title, I thought there will be a detailed case put up for not to take life seriously but the book doesnt give justice to the title.
Besides he talks of something called buddho which is an awakened awareness...these ideas are as such not core to Buddhism as far as i know of.
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I get the same value from Ajahn Sumedho's books. I read for 5-10 minutes each morning before meditation just to set the tone . . . NOT to acquire new ideas . . . just to get encouragement and support. Doing 10 years of daily meditation is not like doing Billy Blanks' Tae Bo workout videos for 10 years. That change would surely be obvious!! I find the spiritual path to be less clear. Has ANYTHING changed?? Then I read a page or two, and Sumedho reminds you . . . "The goal is not to CHANGE YOURSELF . . . but become more MINDFUL of just what shows up . . .Like This . . . filtered through all your expectations and delusions . . . It is like hitting the re-set button when my computer is bogged down . . .I re-boot and feel clearer . . . I read his previous book,The Sound of Silence this way for a couple years before this title showed up in print. Same message, but it has been helpful to have some different words to allow the message to reach my . . . heart/soul/ whatever you choose to call it.
I will say, as a final note that with him having been a Peace Corps Volunteer before he studied in the Thai Forests, it seems like he can understand and work with the default settings that might be in my way. Also, I like that these are TALKS spoken to retreatants not deeply, metaphysical WRITINGS that occurred while he was alone with his laptop. Something about the spoken word works for me, less academic and more relational.
He and Pema Chodron have been wonderful guides for this former Midwestern altar boy who has been exploring a different spiritual path for the past decade. They both shine the light in front of you . . .so you can start to discover your own path and learn from YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES . . . as the Buddha encouraged his followers to do. Plenty of rocks to trip over in the dark and strange voices in the woods, but never boring. As Mary Oliver likes to say: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Ajahn Sumedho has been informed by his life as a Buddhist monk and, perhaps even more importantly, his observations of Thai culture. He notes that Western students are idealistic, striving for perfection by subjecting themselves to harsh discipline and self criticism. Thai culture is much more accepting of human weakness. He encourages the reader to practice meditation in a very relaxed way. When we don't strive for an idealized state of enlightenment we are more likely to notice a natural nonverbal awareness that allows us to gracefully experience the full range of human emotion.
This book really resonates with my personal experience.
tells us we just aren't noticing it. He states the simple truth quite simply.
It is simple, and Sumedho encourages intuitive awareness, which is something we can find in ourselves.
He shared his experience, his observations and journey from a lay person to, novice monk, and abbot.
In my opinion, the best take away in the book, is : To reach the deathless, the conditionless, nirvana, we actually do not need any conditions. People are attached to conditions (such as quietness) to have peace. But do we really need conditions to reach the conditionless?
We often hear the core teaching "impermanence, suffering and no-self" and imposed them on our experience without wisdom, without understanding. Sumedho emphasizes that it should be used as a way for reflection.
There are some other excellent books which I want to share in the below URL, especially the Anthology Volume 1 to 5, which is the collected teachings from Sumedho.
Thank goodness for Sumedho's bare-bones honesty about the workings of his own mind and thanks for his main meditation instruction: "Be with what's happening, now." (But do so kindly, without effort, etc.)
The classical sutras/scriptures in Tibetan Buddhism don't address the Western mind and our low-self esteem issues (no matter if that comes out by our being highly competitively, depressed and/or everything in the middle.) That's because beating up on one's self historically wasn't part of the Tibetan's world view. Sumedho's book integrates observing yourself/your thoughts and every day life in a way you might find helpful, no matter if you're a Buddhist or not.