In April 2017, my latest book ‘The Foundations of Mindfulness’ was published by The Experiment, New York, in three formats: paperless hardback, e-book and audiobook. My book is basically a translation of a much neglected old Buddhist text, and my commentary on it, with a particular emphasis on its practical application. Let me first explain my background.
I am a full-time meditation teacher and author. I have taught 30-40,000 people since I opened the Perth Meditation Centre in Western Australia in 1987. I have also written six books on meditation which have now been translated into fifteen languages. The British and US publishers of those early books proved unwilling to bring out revised editions, so those books are now 15 years out of date. Now, at the end of my career, I wanted to produce a book that would summarise all that I understood about mindfulness, and also to give the Buddha a voice. His core text is a brilliant work. It absolutely deserves to be read and studied. However, it would be fair to say that most psychologists, educators and writers who promote mindfulness, and most Western Buddhists have never read any of the Buddha’s original writings. I’ve translated this source text in order to make it widely available to anyone interested in the Buddha’s approach to mindfulness.
I’m not a Buddhist and never have been. I even have an article on my home website entitled ‘Why I am not a Buddhist.’ The great advantage with the text ‘The Foundations of Mindfulness’ is that is much more about mental training than Buddhist dogma. Very few people nowadays are trying to extinguish their passions and attain enlightenment, as the Buddha recommended. However a calm, clear, discerning mind is useful for anything we want to achieve.
As I explain in my book, it is easy to adapt the Buddha’s splendid training program to our own 21st Century goals. The first ten chapters outline my understanding of meditation/mindfulness as a practice for relaxing the body in all circumstances, and for training the mind in the crucial skill of attention. These chapters relate to the first of the four sections in the Buddha’s original text, the ‘Satipatthana Sutta’. In Chapters 11-15, I present my translation of this text. I also explain the key terms, and how the entire text operates as a Do It Yourself, mind training manual.
In Chapters 16-22, I comment on the last three of the four sections of the ‘Sutta’: mindfulness of emotion, states of mind, and purposeful thought. This is where the concept of ‘mindfulness’ goes far beyond its modern association with calming down and chilling out. The final four chapters are effectively appendices. They explain how the modern concept of mindfulness developed out of the Zen tradition of ‘Just Sitting’ (and not thinking), and the problems with this reductionist way of thinking.
For more articles about these matters, see my website: perthmeditationcentre.com.au