This book is a commentary on the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha's discourse on the four foundations of mindfulness. I read the book when I started meditation practice five years ago and have reread it twice since then, finishing my most recent read a week ago. This book explains the sutta in very clear, understandible terms making it and the practice it describes more accessible to modern western readers. The sutta and the book describe the whole of mindfulness practice both as a meditation practice and as a way of life. As a friend remarked, "Once I found this book, I realized that I didn't need to read anything else." If you want an introduction to mindfulness, this is the book for you. If you want to deepen your understanding of mindfulness, this is the book for you. It is simply the best book I've found on the subject.
"This book is issued in the deep conviction that the systematic cultivation of Right Mindfulness, as taught by the Buddha in his Discourse on Satipatthana, still provides the most simple and direct, the most thorough and effective method for training and developing the mind for its daily tasks and problems as well as for its highest aim: mind's own unshakable deliverance from Greed, Hatred and Delusion."
So opens this humble mastepiece of a book written with great depth, extraordinary knowledge, profound humanity, and in a style that is simple and direct. If the reader is looking for "The" definitive book on how to correctly practice meditation in all its subtle detail, be he Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sufi-Muslim, Taoist, or even Buddhist, this is "that" book. Period.
The heart of the book takes place in the six opening chapters wherein the great German scholar monk, Nyanaponika Thera, opens petal by petal the immense scope of the Buddha's "Way of Mindfulness" for those seeking instruction on how to obtain insight and wisdom in this lifetime. Each chapter builds up to the next, explaining and further elucidating the subtle insights which make up the Buddha's far-reaching and incomparable teachings.
For the experienced meditator who has never practiced Vipassana meditation, this book will open your eyes to the vast landscape of emptiness which you have been seeking all these years. For the uninitiated seeker taking his first steps in the art of meditation, it will be a valued primer in the art of true mental training. Practicing real mindfulness in one's everyday activities is not an easy endeavor. It takes constant application and sustained effort on the part of the practitioner in order to obtain the real benefits of the practice. This is the reality of mindfulness practice which one would do best to realize and heed if he is truly seeking the peace of mind that this method of training will provide.
The chapter on "Mindfulness and Clear Comprehension" will supply the experienced practitioner with a treasure trove of insight and practical instruction rarely seen in published form. It will answer questions and provide clear and valuable insructions in the true intent of mindfulness practice, which is the cessation of suffering. If one can successfully put to use the information contained in this one chapter, it will truly revolutionize one's life. The age-old religious injunctions of renunciation and detachment will no longer be the rarefied arena of those who devote their whole lives to the religious life. It will be obtainable to any person who can maintain this discipline.
The chapter on Anapana-sati, or "Mindfulness of Breathing," may furnish one who has never tried this method of meditation with an experience of such tranquility that he has never before obtained. Success in this half of the two part method of Vipassana meditation will lead to a deepening of one's ability in concentration which in turn will lead to success in being able to accomplish entry into the Jhanas, or the meditative absorptions. And from this advanced point the goal of every meditator's dream--the mind's liberation--lies palpably before him through the development of insight, if he will but continue to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Satipatthana method originally expoused by the Buddha, this book will help to clarify its eminently intelligent approach, first through the cultivation in the practitioner of the ability to concentrate and then through the development of insight into the true nature of the world and one's consciousness resulting in liberation of the individual mind. With a clear comprehension of the major aspects of the Buddha's thought--the Three Characteristics of Existence consisting of Anicca or Impermanence, Dukkha or Dissatisfaction, and Anatta or No-Self--and a cultivation within the mind of the reality of these three characteristics, which represent the world's true nature, any dedicated practitioner can achieve liberation and true peace of mind.