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'Mindfulness'


K.T.S. Sarao

UNDERSTANDING OUR MIND
By Thich Nhat Hahn
Harper Collins Publishers, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 251, Rs. 295.00

VOLUME XXXIII NUMBER 5 May 2009

Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist Zen master of Vietnamese origin, is a human rights activist and a renowned organizer of retreats on the art of mindful living. Thây (‘teacher’), as he is generally known to his followers, also pioneered the concept of ‘engaged’ Buddhism during the Vietnam War when he gave a call to interlink meditation practices and social activism. Since then, he has been engaging in spirituality, community-building, peace-making, and deep ecology. He has written over one hundred books which include popular titles such as Being Peace (Parallax Press, 1996), The Art of Power (Harper One, 2007), The Miracle of Mindfulness (Beacon Press, 1996), Present Moment Wonderful Moment (Parallax Press, 1990), and Calming the Fearful Mind (Parallax Press, 2005).   Nominated in 1967 for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh has perfected his weltanschauung through practical experience at his three centres known as Plum Village (Southern France), Green Mountain Dharma Center (Vermont, USA), and Deer Park Monastery (California, USA). Environmental activists, yoga teachers, psychotherapists, care-givers, community workers, and artists irrespective of gender, class, race, religion, and nationality approach him for cultivation of mindfulness, wholesomeness, inner tranquility, and spirituality.   Thich Nhat Hahn’s Understanding Our Mind is the revised paperback edition of the previously released Transformation at the Base: Fifty Verses on the Nature of Consciousness (Parallax Press, 2001). Finalist for the 2001 Nautilus Award, this seminal work on Buddhist applied psychology contains a new introduction by dharma teacher Reb Anderson, author of Being Upright. This book, a compilation of dharma teachings given by Thich Nhat Hanh between 1989 and 1998 on Buddhist psychology, is based on fifty verses on the nature of consciousness taken from the great fifth century Buddhist master Vasubandhu and the teachings of the Avatamsaka Sûtra.   Study of the human mind has always been an important subject in Buddhism. For instance, the opening verse of the Dhammapada says: ‘Mind precedes (all) states, (that have) mind as a master, (and are) produced by mind. If (one) either speaks or acts with a corrupted mind, then suffering follows him, like the wheel (following) the foot of the bearer (i.e., ox)’. The underlying goal of this book by Thây, as the title shows, is also a study of the human mind. Through the presentation of the basic teachings of Buddhist applied psychology, Thây points out that our mind is a field in which every kind of seed is sown ...


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