The inspiring life-story of from the bestselling author of Mindfulness in Plain English—updated and expanded in honor of his 90th birthday.
Bhante Gunaratana—Bhante G., as he is affectionately called—has long been among the most beloved Buddhist teachers in the West. Ordained at twelve, he would eventually become the first Buddhist chaplain at an American university, the founder of a retreat center and monastery, and a bestselling author.
Here, Bhante G. lays bare the often-surprising ups and downs of his more than ninety years, from his boyhood in Sri Lanka to his decades of sharing the insights of the Buddha, telling his story with the "plain-English" good-humored approach for which he is so renowned.
This expanded anniversary edition includes four new chapters in which Bhante reflects on the impact of the tsumani that struck his homeland in 2004 and his subsequent appearance on Larry KingLive, his brief experiment in ordaining nuns at his monastery, as well intimate reflections on the loss of family members, and his own aging and infirmity—providing a model an inspiring model to us all of gracious equanimity.
“A most refreshing book from a Buddhist meditation teacher who lays bare his human failings and admits they are as much a part of his life as his achievements. It is also a fascinating globe- and culture-crossing autobiography of a man born in a small village in Sri Lanka with enough persistence and good kamma (Pali for karma) to see him through many vicissitudes. Author of the bestseller Mindfulness in Plain English, Bhante G., as he is affectionately known, repeatedly ran away from monasteries where he lived as a boy monk, stole things as a child, smoked and had traumatic fear-inducing accidents with water. As his story makes clear, his is a very human journey of teaching himself as well as others what the Buddha taught about how to live. That organizations that promote ethical living and spiritual development should also have their share of bickering, envy, and bad behavior is an unsurprising part of his story, candidly told without excess rancor or blame. The monk-author is fluent in different cultures as well as languages, and his autobiography contributes to an understanding of the relationship between the American Buddhism of converts and traditional Asian Buddhism, more specifically the Theravada branch of Buddhism as practiced in his native Sri Lanka. This plain-English look back at 75 years of an admixture of adversity, humility, and hard-won wisdom tells an engaging story that non-Buddhists can appreciate as well as Buddhists.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Bhante Gunaratana is a meditation master who lives in each present moment. In Journey to Mindfulness, Bhante demonstrates, with warmth, humor, and rare candor, how it is possible to overcome experiences of abuse, rejection, and our own emotional reactivity through the practice of mindfulness. Journey to Mindfulness is an exhilarating journey into the mind and heart of someone whose life has been dedicated to living and sharing the Buddha’s teaching.”
– Matthew Flickstein, author of The Meditator's Workbook
“Like the stories of the wisest and kindest of grandfathers. A joy to read.”
– Sylvia Boorstein, author of It's Easier than You Think
“Tremendously inspiring. It both breaks down illusions and over-idealism about Buddhism and gives a vision of how to attain the highest in our lifetimes. An old, humble monk reflecting on his arrogant youth has invaluable lessons for all of us.”
– Sumi Loundon Kim, author of Sitting Together
“Inspirational, charming, and delightfully accessible—we are left with the image of a good man who has lived an extraordinary life and that this kind of life is within reach of all of us.”