What's this book about, anyway?
It's been over a month since my last post. Reason being, instead of writing about the book, I was actually writing the book. And the very good news is that – amazingly – this thing looks like maybe it's almost done.
Which begs the question: what's this book about, anyway?
In order to answer that question, let me step back half a decade or so.
Devon and I lived for four years in Madison, Wisconsin. While I was doing all my coursework and rotating through various clinical practica and writing my dissertation, we ended up getting involved in various secular mindfulness activities, which semi-culminated in founding SATI (hence this website) and traveling around teaching mindfulness to helping professionals and anyone else who wanted to hang out for a weekend.
And so somehow, more or less accidentally, we became part of the "mindfulness movement."
Sort of. I guess. Actually, we both feel hellaciously ambiguous about our involvement in this amorphous, faux-glamorous mishmash that has become modern-day mindfulness. We'd love to turn our back on the whole shitstorm (and maybe someday we will). But on the other hand, we meet such good people by weathering our doubts, and we have conversations we'd never have if we hid out in a cave . . .
(God, a cave sounds great right now.)
At any rate, one of the conversations we've been having with people all over the place for quite a while now concerns ethics.
To wit, what about ethics?
Because almost nobody in secular mindfulness talks about ethics. (For notable exceptions click here and here.) But from a Buddhist perspective ethics is the foundation of the path. Not only because treating each other well is what makes for a society worth living in. Also because mindfulness is next to useless if you're lying, stealing, and killing all day long. You'll just end up mindfully miserable.
So that's what this book is about. Call it:
MEDITATION + ETHICS = SANTIY.
Or call it How Not to Be a Hot Mess: A Semi-Buddhist Guide for Surviving Modern Life. That’s what we decided to call it in the end.
The book starts with a little list of acknowledgments that goes like this:
To our teachers
Lama Pema and Lama Yeshe
NDR, Zentatsu, Joseph Goldstein
Mingyur Rinpoche and all the rest
We tried really hard to say everything you said to us,
But in a way our normal friends would understand
Hope we didn't f*ck it up.
From there the intro offers a case for MINDFULNESS + ETHICS = SANITY.
Then it dives into six chapters:
Don’t be a jerk
Say what’s true
Make sex good
Which is are our take, more or less, on the precepts, those five wonderful little pieces of Buddhist advice that help us figure out what to do and what not to do in moment after moment of this swirling series of moments we call our life.
Along the way, we tell a bunch of stories, and quote a bunch of studies, and teach some meditations on kindness and compassion and calm. Then in chapter five we take a shot at the patriarchy. All good fun.
The best part? This is a short book. Maybe 120 pages. You could probably read it straight through to the end in a single sitting if you got inspired.
And so that’s what our book is about, for those of you who were wondering. If you haven’t read my blog posts about how this book came to be, click here. It’s kind of a fun story.
Alright. Wishing you all well.
Until next time,