August 22, 2009

Mindfulness in Plain English and Beyond

bhavana society

The examiner.com has posted a short and sweet slide show of Bhante Henepola Gunaratana's Bhavana Society, the Appalachian Buddhist refuge tucked in the wilds of West Virginia. Bhante G, as he is affectionately called, is perhaps most widely known as the author of the bestselling classic Mindfulness in Plain English. Now, after nearly two decades, the Sri Lankan monk has followed up with an introduction to deeper states of meditation—Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English, currently available from Wisdom Publications.

Several years back, Tricycle ran a practice section that included an excerpt from the first book, which begins with a well-known metaphor for taming the mind:

Ancient Pali texts liken meditation to the process of taming a wild elephant. The procedure in those days was to tie a newly captured animal to a post with a good strong rope. When you do this, the elephant is not happy. He screams and tramples, and pulls against the rope for days. Finally it sinks through his skull that he can’t get away, and he settles down. At this point you can begin to feed him and to handle him with some measure of safety. Eventually you can dispense with the rope and post altogether, and train your elephant for various tasks. Now you’ve got a tamed elephant that can be put to useful work. In this analogy the wild elephant is your wildly active mind, the rope is mindfulness, and the post is our object of meditation, our breathing. The tamed elephant who emerges from this process is a well-trained, concentrated mind that can then be used for the exceedingly tough job of piercing the layers of illusion that obscure reality. Meditation tames the mind.

You can read the rest here.

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toner's picture

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