email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God50 Voices of DisbeliefA Companion to Buddhist PhilosophyA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Frightening LoveA Mirror Is for ReflectionA Mirror Is for ReflectionA People's History of ChristianityAdieu to GodAn Ethics for TodayAristotle's ChildrenAugustine's "Confessions"Bad FaithBehind the GospelsBeyond the SelfBig DreamsBig GodsBody Piercing Saved My LifeBrains, Buddhas, and BelievingBrief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and FaithBuddhism and ScienceBuddhist Boot CampConfucianismConfucianismConfucius and ConfucianismContemplative ScienceCorporal Punishment, Religion, and United States Public SchoolsCourage to SurrenderCross and KhoraDarwin's Gift to Science and ReligionDarwin, God and the Meaning of LifeDeath and the AfterlifeDebating DesignDeeper Than DarwinDivinity of DoubtEmbracing MindEncountering the DharmaEngaging BuddhismEsalenEscape Your Own PrisonEvidence for PsiEvilEvolution and ReligionExplorations in Neuroscience, Psychology and ReligionFaithFaith and Wisdom in ScienceFingerprints of GodFor The Bible Tells Me SoForgivenessFrom Shame to SinGodGod & TherapyGod Is Not GreatGod Is Not OneGod: The Failed HypothesisHereticHidden DimensionsHooked!Hours with the MysticsHow to See Yourself As You Really AreHow Would Buddha Act?Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInto Great SilenceIslam and the Future of Tolerance: A DialogueJewish DharmaLife After FaithLiving DeeplyLiving with a Wild GodLiving with DarwinMaking Chastity SexyMedicine and Health Care in Early ChristianityMedicine and ReligionMedicine of the PersonMorals Not KnowledgeMysticism & SpaceNature and the Human SoulNothingOn AnimalsOn Life After DeathPanpsychism and the Religious AttitudePathways to SpiritualityPeaceful Death, Joyful RebirthPhilosophers without GodsPhilosophical Myths of the FallPorn UniversityPray the Gay AwayPsychotherapy without the SelfPurgatoryRadical GraceReason, Faith, and RevolutionRecruiting Young LoveReligion without GodReligious and Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric DiagnosisSaving GodScience and NonbeliefScience and Religion at the CrossroadsScience and SpiritualityScience vs. ReligionSecular Philosophy and the Religious TemperamentSelf Hypnosis for Cosmic ConsciousnessSelf, No Self?Sex and the Soul, Updated EditionSmile of the BuddhaSong of RiddlesSpirit, Mind, and BrainSuperstitionTen Lectures on Psychotherapy and SpiritualityThe Accidental MindThe Belief InstinctThe Bodhisattva's BrainThe Cambridge Companion to AtheismThe Cambridge Companion to Science and ReligionThe Case for GodThe Chosen OneThe Dao of NeuroscienceThe Dark Night of the SoulThe Darkening AgeThe Delight of Being OrdinaryThe Forgotten CreedThe Fundamentalist MindsetThe God DebatesThe God GeneThe Hero with a Thousand FacesThe Improbability of GodThe Joy of SecularismThe Language God TalksThe Language of GodThe Meaning of BeliefThe MiracleThe New AtheismThe New Religious IntoleranceThe Philosophy of ReligionThe Power of FaithThe Power of ForgivenessThe Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Psychology of Religious FundamentalismThe Psychology of SpiritualityThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Secular OutlookThe Sense of SelfThe Spirit of the BuddhaThe Spirit of Tibetan BuddhismThe Tibetan Book of the DeadThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe Watkins Dictionary of Religions and Secular FaithsThe Watkins Dictionary of SymbolsTheology, Psychology and the Plural SelfThoughts Without A ThinkerTop SecretUnifying HinduismWays of KnowingWhat Is Buddhist Enlightenment?What Should I Believe?When the Impossible HappensWhy I Left, Why I StayedWilliam James on Ethics and FaithWriting as a Sacred PathYoga, Karma, and RebirthZealot
As a new yoga instructor, I've developed a casual interest in Eastern philosophy, and I find it beneficial to incorporate some of the teachings of Buddhism into my teaching. How Would Buddha Act: 801 Right-Action Teachings for Living with Awareness and Intention seemed like a potentially helpful tool in this regard.
In her brief introduction, author Barbara Ann Kipfer explains that "Right Action" is one of the eight elements in the Buddha's Eightfold Path to enlightenment. She chooses to focus on Right Action and its basic tenet of "do no harm" for the basis of this work. The book itself has three sections. Kipfer starts with what she calls "Teachings." This section, forming the bulk of the volume, consists of a bulleted list of aphorisms; more on this below. This is followed by "Essays," a total of 49 slightly longer reflections (1-2 pp) on various topics. Finally, Kipfer concludes with fourteen brief suggestions for meditations.
To be honest, I thought that the "Teachings" segment read like a "Chicken Soup for the Soul"-type book. There was certainly wisdom in many of these writings (e.g. "Things will go to pieces, but you do not have to fall apart when they do"), yet many of them were overly repetitive. For example, the theme of mindfulness/present moment appeared over and over and over again, from "practice mindful commuting" to "think only and entirely of what you are doing at the moment" to "cultivate the power of the present moment" to "remind yourself to be mindful" to "practice one activity that you do every day and practice doing it mindfully." There are many other recurring topics as well—in fact, this section practically begs to be arranged by category, which it is not, making it difficult to study any one particular idea in greater depth.
The essays cover a wider range of topics. Many elements of classic Eastern philosophy appear here, such as Aversion, Change and Impermanence, Compassion, Desire and Attachment, Harmful Speech, Karma, Mindfulness, Nonviolence, Present Moment, and Skillful Action. There are also plenty of what I'll call more "modernized" subject matters. These would include Doing One Thing at a Time, Eating and Drinking, Goal Setting, Openness and Belonging, Recycling and Going Green, Responding Rather than Reacting, and Taking Intoxicating Substances. The essays tend to connect back to the Eightfold path. Some offer basic advice or suggestions for living more in line with that principle, but the information on each topic is fairly insubstantial. Finally, each of the fourteen meditations has a specific goal of "Meditation for _______." Some of the issues addressed include Balance, Compassion, Emptying the Mind, Getting Unstuck, Sleep, and Travelling. The instructions—in each case, a single paragraph—offer very basic guidelines. For example, the "Meditation for Sleep" provides just two sentences, the first encouraging the reader to tense the body, the second suggesting to relax and then repeat several times.
I did enjoy reading this book, particularly the essay section. Yet I would also describe it as extremely simple--a quality that may be appreciated by some, but possibly rejected by others.
© 2016 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.