How to Wake Up by Toni Bernhard bears the subtitle A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow, and that is the first clue that this is really a book for everyone.
If you are already a practicing Buddhist then that’s great – you will find plenty in this volume to support you on the Noble Eightfold Path – but How to Wake Up is the kind of book that can also be used by those who are completely new to the principles of Buddhism.
How to Wake Up is divided into three sections, which are entitled: Cultivating Wisdom, Cultivating Mindfulness and Cultivating an Open Heart.
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Each section presents six or seven chapters that explore the featured topic in depth, and what is truly refreshing about this book is the way the author is so completely honest about the way that she has used the principles she teaches in her own life.
The author establishes her wonderfully pragmatic tone from the outset as she encapsulates her view of the Buddha, his message and its relevance in her Introduction:
I don’t believe there was anything supernatural about the Buddha’s awakening. After meditating for seven days and nights under a fig tree and carefully observing his experience, he woke up to what it means to be human—both its stark realities and the potential it holds for us to find peace and contentment.
Building on this insight, he left us detailed instructions for awakening. These instructions can be found in his teachings on wisdom, mindfulness, and open-heartedness. They are the three subjects of this book. The path of awakening is available to all of us, no matter what our religious or metaphysical beliefs are and no matter how difficult our circumstances may be…
This is an author who is quite willing to share the totality of her experience – including her encounters with sickness, grief and frustration – and that makes it very easy to relate to what she says. Many of us tend to think that awakening is something reserved for other people who have more relaxed lives than our own, or fewer problems, but How to Wake Up makes it clear that the possibility of awakening is for everyone. Life is as it is, nobody has a perfect one, and we can all learn to wake up starting right where we are, no matter how messy, inconvenient or downright difficult things may seem.
Inspirational, honest, thoroughly practical and immensely encouraging, How to Wake Up is a book that you can take into the trenches of your life as well as to the mountain tops.