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My reading experience of reading this book ordered from Amazon would have been great except for the fact that practically every single page of the book had pencil marks and notations. Obviously no one checks these books before they're being sent out. For shame.
This book is disappointing. Hanh purports to offer helpful information and advice to individuals. He does that in the first two parts of the book. But, the reader will find in the last part that he is trying to put a guilt trip on Americans in order to raise money to help victims of the Vietnam war and to help the poor and downtrodden in underdeveloped countries. I'm all for helping victims of war and for providing aid to people in underdeveloped countries. But Hanh is dishonest in his approach because he says nothing to the people who caused the war and related problems. Those people were some of the Vietnamese, the Chinese, and the Russians. Also, while Hanh was exiled from his own country (Vietnam) after the war he said nothing to the people who would have killed or imprisoned him if he had returned. Instead, his objective is to influence people in the U.S.
One thing that Hanh does not mention is that the Vietnam War was only the most recent time in history when China or its allies conquered neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Just as in the past, their real goal was to control a useful geographic area. The U.S. wanted to stop this grab of territory and to stop the spread of "communism." Those goals are understandable since "communists" had already killed many millions of people.
Hanh says that mindfulness will cause Americans to see that they should provide aid to war victims and the downtrodden around the world. But, other conclusions could be reached that Hanh does not address. I'll give four examples. (1) Why didn't the Vietnamese people make a concerted effort to try to stop the spread of communism - without our help? (2) The form of meditation that Hanh writes about is practiced in Southeast Asia. It doesn't seem to have helped in stopping conflicts like the Vietnam War. Why? (3) Why don't people in underdeveloped countries take action to rid themselves of corrupt governments that are oppressing them? (4) The United States should not have entered a limited war in China's backyard (Southeast Asia) if it wasn't willing to confront China.
I gave the book two stars for its first two parts. Those parts give concise statements of what mindfulness meditation is. Still, some of Hanh's views seem immature. For example, he said that to understand an individual is to love them. If an individual is sadistic or a sociopath and dangerous to me, how am I to love that person? Maybe I could if I am charitable and try to see the person as separate from their actions. But, Hanh leaves it to the reader to figure out how to love someone who is doing really bad things.
If you are considering meditation for the first time, I suggest reading The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, MD and The Meditative Mind by Daniel Goleman. Those books give good overviews of the practice of meditation and its benefits. I'm not an expert on mindfulness meditation as discussed by Hanh but I recommend two other books on the subject over this one by Hanh. The first is Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The other is Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. If you want reading on how to deal with problems in life, I suggest books by Albert Ellis and books by Paul Hauck. Ellis' book entitled A Guide to Rational Living is especially good.
All of his books are the exact same teachings which aren’t very practical for a modern western life. I love the ideas, but I doubt anyone could put them to practice while working a normal job and loving a normal life. The world is much more complex than the picture painted here.