Non-Duality USA reviews Living as a River

“This book is one of the best explanations of what the separate self is, what it does, and how being free of the static sense of a separate self benefits humanity, leaving us “peaceful yet engaged.” It reminds us of why awakening is not just about personal freedom, but also compassion, ethics, action, and care and concern for all sentient beings. These elements are sometimes missed in our modern attempts to translate Buddhist texts in order to “rush to a personal awakening … This book perfectly illuminates the real purpose of awakening, which is not to just talk about that river or even enter the river, but to realize we are it —fully.”

Read the full review here…

Book introduction

Thanks to some spiffy new technology from Amazon, I can now make the introductory chapter of Living as a River available in Kindle format, right on the blog. (Kindle, in case you don’t know, is Amazon’s amazing electronic reading device).

Below, you’ll see the Kindle on the Web widget. For ease of reading, I’d suggest you switch the reader to full-screen by clicking on the icon at the top that looks a bit like a TV screen, to the left of where it says “Get Kindle Edition.” You can also adjust the font size, and even purchase the Kindle edition of the book.


Interview with New Spirit Journal

Here’s an interview I did a couple of weeks ago, talking with Krysta Gibson of New Spirit Journal, where we discuss Living as a River.

This links directly to the MP3 file, so you can either left-click and listen in your browser, or right click and download to listen in iTunes or whatever media player you use.

It was recorded on an ancient-looking land-line in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the sound on my end is rather muffled. Sometimes it might be inaudible, but maybe that will encourage you to go out and buy my book so that you can work out what the heck I was saying…

Big sense of relief

Just the other day I was at a social/business gathering of people who are going to be teaching at the University of New Hampshire this summer. I mentioned to one of the other teachers that I have a book coming out in October, and of course she asked what it was about.

Oh, oh! I launched into a several-paragraph long explanation of the book, knowing that once again, I’d failed to put my finger on the pulse of my own book.

I wrote Living as a River because I’m fascinated by the Buddhist Six Element Practice, and I wanted to communicate my explorations. But my book isn’t really about the Six Element Practice, which is really just the framework for the explorations it contains.

The Six Element Practice is a way of exploring the nature of the self, and how we cling onto notions of what we are. It’s a way of letting go of our clinging so that we can, eventually, lose our clinging and find freedom. But that’s not an very adequate description of the book either.

But those are the kind of descriptions I keep giving people. I just couldn’t think of a pithy way of expressing what the book was about that wasn’t too narrow or long-winded. I needed to find a “pitch.”

You know that when an agent is trying to get a Hollywood studio to buy a movie, they have a one-sentence opener to provide a “hook” and to describe the essence of the film. So you’ll get things like “Jaws on Paws” (a real-life example about a rampaging dog), or “You’ve Got Mail meets Blue Velvet” (to give an example I made up).

A couple of days my last flailing attempt to describe my book, it finally came to be how I could describe the book in just two words: “Embracing change.” So that’s what the book’s about. It uses the structure of the Six Element meditation in order to face up to the reality of change, and to help us let go of clinging so that we can embrace impermanence.

It’s strange it’s taken me so long to figure out exactly what my book’s about! You’d kind of expect that I’d know that before I wrote the book. In fact it probably would have been handy to have had “embracing change” in my mind as a theme while I was writing.

On the other hand, I think that idea was in my mind the whole time, even though I never quite articulated it, so it’s not as if I’ve suddenly realized I’ve written the wrong book.

I’m just relieved and glad that when an interviewer asks me what the book’s about, I can now express its essence in just two words:

Embracing Change.

The back cover blurb

Sounds True recently sent me the copy for the back cover of Living as a River:

“At a time when it’s increasingly challenging to find clear and honest direction on the spiritual path, Living as a River offers contemporary insight into an ancient practice and wise counsel we can trust. This book is both beautifully written and useful to all serious seekers.” 
—Mariana Caplan, PhD, author of Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path and Halfway Up the Mountain: The Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment

To face reality is to embrace change; to resist change is to suffer. This is the liberating insight that unfolds with Living as a River. A masterful investigation of the nature of self, this eloquent blend of current science and time-honored spiritual insight is meant to free us from the fear of impermanence in a world defined by change.

The primary vehicle for this journey is Buddhism’s traditional Six Element Practice, a deconstructive process of deep reflection that helps us let go of the belief in a separate, static self—the root of unhappiness. Bodhipaksa takes readers through a systematic yet poetic analysis of the self that supports the realization of:

  • A sense of spaciousness and expansiveness that transcends the limitations of the physical body
  • Profound gratitude, awe, and a feeling of belonging as we witness the extent of our connectedness with the universe
  • Freedom from the psychological burden caused by clinging to a false identity
  • The relaxed experience of “consciousness, pure and bright”

Engrossing and incisive, Living as a River is at once an empowering guide and a meditative practice we can turn to again and again to overcome our fear of change and align joyfully with the natural unfolding of creation.