On Bhante Henapola Gunaratana's "Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness"
This book covers much the same ground as Thich Nhat Hahn's book "The Heart of
Buddha's Teaching" and Joeseph Goldstein's book, "One Dharma".
However, this book offers both detailed explanations for each step of the
eightfold path and a long checklist summary for each step of
its key points and attitudes or actions that are helpful,
and of the counterpoint problems or mistakes that can be harmful.
Its primary premise, that the steps are toward happiness,
seems intrinsically more hopeful than many related texts.
Each book manages to address the most important aspects, the core of the teachings,
without a sectarian viewpoint, and without being specific to a particular sect
or country of origin. Each book is quite different, however, reflecting
profound differences in backgrounds and experience among the authors.
(Thich Nhat Hahn was raised in Vietnam and became a Zen master about the time
of the US-led war with North Vietnam. Goldstein, from an American
Jewish family, served in the peace corps in southeastern asia where he
intensively practiced Buddhism and subsequently became an important American teacher.
Bhante Henapola Gunaratana was ordained a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka at the age of 12,
and subsequently has spent his life studying and teaching Buddhism.)
Each author has founded a monastery, has an international teaching practice,
and has written several books (over a hundred for Hahn).
"Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness" focusses specifically on the Buddha's
eightfold path. Each chapter addresses one of the eight steps in detail,
and ends with a detailed summary of the key points of the step. Despite
this apparently narrow focus, Bhante Gunaratana manages to cover
the most important aspects of Buddhism from the readily understandable
perspective of happiness. He is perhaps most meticulous in describing in detail
helpful practices, but does not lose his sense of perspective
in beautifully describing each step as an essential approach in
practice, and to happiness.
Back to Mind and Meditation