The Misleading Mind by Karuna Cayton is a book that will be incredibly useful to anyone who wants to improve their quality of life with Buddhist Psychology.
Karuna has worked as a psychotherapist, business psychologist and coach for over two decades, and he also happens to be a long-time student of Lama Zopa Rinpoche (Head and co-founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) and the late Lama Thubten Yeshe.
The author’s combined understanding of western psychology and Tibetan Buddhism shines through in this book, which has the subtitle: How We Create Our Own Problems and How Buddhist Psychology Can Help Us Solve Them.
The central message of the book is defined on the very first page of the introduction, and offers immediate hope to anyone who has been looking for a way to experience more happiness and peace of mind:
‘To everyone who has ever gone to a therapist, bought a self-help book, consulted an astrological chart, or cracked open a fortune cookie in hopes of finding the answer or key to lasting happiness, The Misleading Mind offers a radical message. There is no key. There is no single answer that can be wrapped in a cookie. However, we can achieve lasting emotional health and happiness if we learn to train our minds.’
The introduction continues to explain that this book is best viewed as a set of ideas and tools that the reader can use to become happier by facing problems head-on. It is, the author stresses, a gradual process, but one that has been tested thoroughly and validated by millions of people over the course of more than 2,500 years.
The meat of the book is presented in nine chapters. Karuna explores the reality of problems in the context of the Buddha’s teaching, playfully defining the First Noble Truth as the Truth of Problems. He then moves on to explore the nature of mind, how all emotional states arise from attachment, aversion and ignorance, and why our perception of reality is warped. The author then moves on to explore the pitfalls that are inherent in humanity’s desire to live ‘happily ever after’ and the problems that arise from our sense of identity as a fixed self.
In the penultimate chapter, Karuna discusses how the reader can integrate the teachings that have already been provided whilst still dealing with the hustle and bustle of daily life, and he brings the book to a close by focusing on the topics of ethics, responsibility, learning from mistakes and developing compassion for oneself and others.
Every chapter of this book is written in a practical and down-to-earth style, with examples drawn from real-world situations that all readers will be able to relate to. In addition, the book is packed with exercises that you can use to start apply the teachings – and reaping the benefits – without delay.
In summary, The Misleading Mind is one of the best books around for helping one understand the problems that we all experience in life and – even more importantly – for learning how to deal with them effectively using the ideas and tools of Buddhist Psychology.