Book Review: Unlimiting Mind
Unlimiting Mind: The Radically Experiential Psychology Of Buddhism
by Andrew Olendzki
Published by Wisdom Publications
“Unlimiting Mind” may become of the most important books for today’s Buddhism. Andrew gives us the bare bones, from his perspective as a Theravadan scholar, and psychologist. He attended various school including Lancaster University in England, Harvard and the University of Sri Lanka. For those that do not know Andrew Olendzki, his work is already known in various circles due to his essays being published in Tricycle, The Insight Meditation Journal and various other places. Andrew is a former executive director of the Insight Meditation Center and now is the executive director of Barre Center For Buddhist Studies, which shared grounds with IMS.
I always get a bit freaked out before reading a book if the title has the word “psychology” in it. I automatically assume there are going to be all sorts of huge words that intermingle with one another making it nearly impossible to read. That is not the case, as a matter of fact there isn’t much reference to psychology from what I can see, maybe he used his psychological viewpoint to break the teachings down though, and he has certainly broken them down. So much so, he’s taken original teaching from Pali texts and compared them to modern day situations we find ourselves in.
For instance, in the chapter titled “One Thing At A Time” he talks about our cultures “need” to constantly multi-task and just how ineffective it truly is. Specifically, he says…
“…try simultaneously texting a message while driving, guided by your GPS through an unfamiliar neighborhood, while catching the latest sports score on your radio and discussing some recent relationship difficulty with your partner.”
He goes on in the next paragraph…
“One image in the Pali texts compares the flow of consciousness to a mountain stream flowing swiftly downhill. If there are several outlets through which the water is disperses, then when is reaches the plain it will be little more than a trickle.”
Each chapter is it’s own lesson, the book is not a comprehensive chapter series, but broken up so you don’t have to sit and read in succession. I found the book to be very helpful.
From topics such as recognizing that “ourself”” is really “our non-self”, to common misconceptions we often make about the dharma and our own dharma practice.
In the long run, I know this book will be referred to as my practice transforms, fails and get’s back up again. A book like this is necessary in today’s “Buddhism” because it shows just how relevant the words the Buddha said are, even to the lifestyles we lead right now, more than 2,500 years later.