Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond - Foreword
You hold in your hands a truly helpful and sophisticated manual of meditation written by a monk with deep and wide-ranging experience. Ajahn Brahm is one of a new generation of Westerners who have studied, practiced, and mastered an important range of Buddhist teachings and now offer them to sincere practitioners across the modern world.
In Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond you will find a thorough set of teachings for developing and deepening meditation, aimed particularly at attaining absorption, or jhāna samādhi, and opening to the insights that can follow from it. Ajahn Brahm offers a careful and subtle understanding of how to transform initial difficulties and how to incline the mind toward rapture, happiness, light, and the profound steadiness of jhāna. Then he turns this concentrated attention to illuminate the emptiness of self that brings liberating understanding. These are beautiful teachings.
While I acknowledge with pleasure the fruit of Ajahn Brahm’s rich experience as a guide for meditators, Ajahn Brahm presents this way of developing jhāna and insight as the real true way the Buddha taught and therefore the best way. It is an excellent way. But the Buddha also taught many other equally good ways to meditate and employed many skillful means to help students awaken. The teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Ajahn Buddhadasa, and Sunlun Sayadaw are among a wide spectrum of masters who offer different and equally liberating perspectives. Together they comprise a rich mandala of living Dharma, of which Ajahn Brahm reveals one important facet.
So, those of you interested in the practice of jhāna and the depths of the Buddhist path: read this book carefully. And try its practices. Much will be gained from its rich and wise words and even more from the experiences it points to. And as the Buddha and Ajahn Brahm both advise, test them out, use them, and learn from them, but do not cling to them. Let them lead you to the liberation beyond all clinging, the sure heart’s release. May these teachings bring understanding, benefit, and blessings to all.
Spirit Rock Center
Woodacre, California 2006
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© Ajahn Brahm, Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond (Wisdom Publications, 2006)
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