There are many books about meditation and the importance of contemplative practices, but few that manage to remain contemplative-centered while drawing timely applications. That’s what Oren Jay Sofer’s book does so well.

A quote from the Buddha is at the top: “Irrigators channel water, fletchers shape arrows, carpenters fashion wood, the wise train themselves.” Sofer proves to be a wise guide himself, through both the waters of Buddhist meditation practice and following those currents into and through modern life. He shows with reflections, meditations, and actions how to cultivate the good and the beautiful, to let them guide your life.

Part One focuses on six qualities for training heart, mind, and body. These are attention, aspiration, energy, mindfulness, stability, and wisdom.

Part Two goes deeper into how energy works in human lives, with chapters on curiosity, courage, renunciation, kindness, ease, patience, and equanimity. These are all what one might call “internal” qualities.

Part Three, midway through the book, begins to point deliberately “outward,” focusing on friendship and how spiritual practices such as mindfulness and attention prepare us to become practitioners of empathy, integrity, resolution, joy, rest, and wonder.

The final Part continues this outward journey with chapters on gratitude, generosity, devotion, play, compassion, contentment, and forgiveness. For example, chapter 21 “Generosity,” includes practical teaching such as this:

“How might generosity function if we questioned the very concept of ownership? Look deeply: What actually belongs to you? Is not everything borrowed in the end? Even your very body is a gift you never could have created. Recognizing that our brief sojourn on the planet requires that we return everything, we begin to see that we own nothing. We are simply caretakers. Can we share accordingly?”

We highly recommend this book for everyone on the spiritual path, Buddhist or not.

Go Deeper:
The Liberating Promise of Mindfulness is an e-course on developing moment-to-moment clarity that enables you to live an engaged and compassionate life in this increasingly complex world.