Last week, I started the five week Tuesday night class Contentment in Everyday Life. One of the books for that class is Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche ,the temporal and spiritual director of Shambhala, a global network of meditation and retreat centers. This book has come highly recommended to me. The book starts with a foreword by Pema Chodron, one of my favorite Buddhist teachers. Here are some excerpts from her foreword.
“[Sakyong Mipham has] a remarkable ability to digest the traditional Tibetan Buddhist teachings throughly and completely and then present them in a way that speaks directly to the hearts of and needs of Western people. Moreover, his enthusiasm for doing this is contagious. As one who is now completely at home in both the Western and Tibetan mind-sets, he easily and spontaneously serves as a bridge.”
In 2003, Turning the Mind into an Ally “introduced him to a world surely in need of the traditional mind-training practices he presents. The beauty of his approach is that it joins two streams of teachings: Buddhism and Shambhala, a spiritual warriorship grounded in realization of basic goodness. Here Sakyong Mipham offers detailed instructions for building a courageous mind through the practice of sitting meditation, the natural seat of the warrior bodhisattva. A skilled equestrian, he compares the whole process to taming a wild horse. He generously includes descriptions of the obstacles we might encounter in such rigorous work, along with the antidotes traditionally prescribed by the lineage of Tibetan and Indian meditators.
“In addition, Sakyong Mipham instructs the reader in contemplative meditation, which sharpens our insight and develops our wisdom. Contemplation provides the conditions for joy to expand as we realize the nature of reality. He places particular emphasis on the practice of rousing bodhichitta–awakened heart–an enlightenment strategy through which we begin to experience our great warrior spirits.”
Sometimes, my mind definitely acts like a wild horse charging off in different directions. And sometimes I do feel like my mind can “throw” my intentions out off the driver’s seat, or saddle, of life. If this book could help me “get thrown” less often, or find a method to get “back in the saddle” more quickly, it would certainly be a valuable book.