A Whole-Life Path by Gregory Kramer is subtitled A Lay Buddhist’s Guide to Crafting a Dhamma-Infused Life. The author points out that most of us fail to experience the full extent of the freedom offered by the Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha simply because we only apply the Buddha’s teachings in a semi-intentional way.
The aim of this book, as stated clearly in the first chapter, is ‘to help you craft a whole-life path for yourself. It will point you to the breadth and depth, and the particulars, of the Dhamma’s liberating possibilities and how they can be applied to every aspect of life–personal, relational, and social.‘
Gregory Kramer has been practicing meditation since 1974 and has been teaching meditation since 1980, He is the founding teacher of the Insight Dialogue Community and has authored several other books, including Insight Dialogue The Interpersonal Path to Freedom, and Dharma Contemplation: Meditating Together with Wisdom Texts. All of this means that he has had plenty of experience in applying, and helping others to apply, Buddhist wisdom to everyday life.
Many of us make the mistake of compartmentalizing our lives. We might meditate on a regular basis, study the Buddha’s teachings and attend retreats. But we can still find it very difficult to consistently apply the wisdom of Dhamma when we’re having a hectic day in the workplace, taking care of our dependents, running errands, and dealing with everything else that life throws at us.
This book outlines a way for us to do things quite differently. In the first chapter, the author explains The Need for a Whole-Life Path, and in the second chapter, he discusses Six Tenets for a Whole-Life Path. The third chapter discusses Preparing for and Assessing a Whole-Life Path.
The next eight chapters then look at the eight aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path in turn. This is where the rubber meets the road, and the author does a superb job of explaining exactly how the Dhamma can be applied to every aspect of our lives, not just theoretically, but in the thick of things. Even better, he provides a number of practices that enable the reader to do just that.
By the time you’ve read and digested the first eleven chapters of this book, you’ll be ready for the topic of the twelfth and final chapter, which is all about Crafting Your Whole-Life Path. This is where everything you have learned can be crafted into a path that fits the whole of your life as it really is so that you can apply the Dhamma to every moment, every situation, and every encounter.
A Whole-Life Path is a deeply practical book that will be of great benefit to anyone who wants to apply the Dhamma to all of life, and not just parts of it. The author has a vast amount of experience in teaching these principles and the way in which he makes them so relevant to those of us who spend most of our time off the cushion is extremely helpful.