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Going on Being: Buddhism and the Way of Change

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The bestselling author of "Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart" combines a memoir of his own journey as a student of Buddhism and psychology with a powerful message about how cultivating true self-awareness and adopting a Buddhist understanding of change can free the mind. Before Mark Epstein became a medical student at Harvard and began training as a psychiatrist, he im The bestselling author of "Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart" combines a memoir of his own journey as a student of Buddhism and psychology with a powerful message about how cultivating true self-awareness and adopting a Buddhist understanding of change can free the mind. Before Mark Epstein became a medical student at Harvard and began training as a psychiatrist, he immersed himself in Buddhism through experiences with such influential Buddhist teachers as Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield. The positive outlook of Buddhism and the meditative principle of living in the moment came to influence his study and practice of psychotherapy profoundly. "Going on Being "is Epstein's memoir of his early years as a student of Buddhism and of how Buddhism shaped his approach to therapy, as well as a practical guide to how a Buddhist understanding of psychological problems makes change for the better possible. "Going on Being "is an intimate chronicle of the evolution of spirit and psyche, and a highly inviting guide for anyone seeking a new path and a new outlook on life.


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The bestselling author of "Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart" combines a memoir of his own journey as a student of Buddhism and psychology with a powerful message about how cultivating true self-awareness and adopting a Buddhist understanding of change can free the mind. Before Mark Epstein became a medical student at Harvard and began training as a psychiatrist, he im The bestselling author of "Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart" combines a memoir of his own journey as a student of Buddhism and psychology with a powerful message about how cultivating true self-awareness and adopting a Buddhist understanding of change can free the mind. Before Mark Epstein became a medical student at Harvard and began training as a psychiatrist, he immersed himself in Buddhism through experiences with such influential Buddhist teachers as Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield. The positive outlook of Buddhism and the meditative principle of living in the moment came to influence his study and practice of psychotherapy profoundly. "Going on Being "is Epstein's memoir of his early years as a student of Buddhism and of how Buddhism shaped his approach to therapy, as well as a practical guide to how a Buddhist understanding of psychological problems makes change for the better possible. "Going on Being "is an intimate chronicle of the evolution of spirit and psyche, and a highly inviting guide for anyone seeking a new path and a new outlook on life.

30 review for Going on Being: Buddhism and the Way of Change

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I started to read this book and found that the most meaningful bit was a bookmark I found inside with the following on it: Walking the Labyrinth A Journey of Presence My life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, creativity, transformation, continuously expanding my vision of what is possible, stretching my soul learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to my intuition, taking courageous risks, embracing challenges at every step along the way. I am on the path, exactly where I am meant I started to read this book and found that the most meaningful bit was a bookmark I found inside with the following on it: Walking the Labyrinth A Journey of Presence My life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, creativity, transformation, continuously expanding my vision of what is possible, stretching my soul learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to my intuition, taking courageous risks, embracing challenges at every step along the way. I am on the path, exactly where I am meant to be right now. And from here I can go forward, shaping my life story into a magnificent tale of healing, of courage, of wisdom and beauty, creativity empowerment, dignity and love. I will leave the bookmark with the book. It seems fitting....

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steve Woods

    Epstein is one of the most important people I have read since I started to practice 7 years ago. He has done much to help me on the way towards integrating what I have learned through practice and other forms of psychological work over the past few years. Somehow he is able to encapsulate the teachings into a form that just slots right into my daily life. the understanding that arises from that has been extremely helpful. This is another great book. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest i Epstein is one of the most important people I have read since I started to practice 7 years ago. He has done much to help me on the way towards integrating what I have learned through practice and other forms of psychological work over the past few years. Somehow he is able to encapsulate the teachings into a form that just slots right into my daily life. the understanding that arises from that has been extremely helpful. This is another great book. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in "the path">

  3. 4 out of 5

    sevdah

    Picked this up after it found me, and because it got its' title from Winnicott. Epstein is a psychoanalyst whose practice is coloured by Buddhism and in this memoir, he examines his path in both - his spiritual practice and his work with clients. Thinking between Freud and Buddha sounds all too fascinating, but in reality he can be so self-obsessed it's just frustrating. You have to roll your eyes when he says that usually Buddhism in the West is encountered as the Other, but for him you see it Picked this up after it found me, and because it got its' title from Winnicott. Epstein is a psychoanalyst whose practice is coloured by Buddhism and in this memoir, he examines his path in both - his spiritual practice and his work with clients. Thinking between Freud and Buddha sounds all too fascinating, but in reality he can be so self-obsessed it's just frustrating. You have to roll your eyes when he says that usually Buddhism in the West is encountered as the Other, but for him you see it came very early and made up the fabric of his life - which makes you image anything else but the reality of him finding out about it because he was following a beautiful girl into religion class at Harvard while studying psychiatry. My dude, you were the Other, get off your high horse, Buddha wouldn't care if you admit you were a middle class American student finding about Eastern philosophy because you were horny. Anyway; some of what happens in this book is deeply annoying like that, but some valuable insights are to be found as well if you're thick skinned enough to carry on.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Mcallister

    If you can read this book and not want to punch Mark Epstein once, you have attained enlightenment, Grasshopper. I love this book and I learned so much from it and I'm going to read it again immediately, but Epstein comes off as the most self-absorbed apostle of attaining mindful non-self-absorption imaginable. If you can read this book and not want to punch Mark Epstein once, you have attained enlightenment, Grasshopper. I love this book and I learned so much from it and I'm going to read it again immediately, but Epstein comes off as the most self-absorbed apostle of attaining mindful non-self-absorption imaginable.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I'm working on a master's thesis focused on Buddhist psychology. This isn't the worst book I've read in my research, but its not the best. Its definitely "for the masses" but I worry that is not appealing enough for the masses. It was ok. I'm working on a master's thesis focused on Buddhist psychology. This isn't the worst book I've read in my research, but its not the best. Its definitely "for the masses" but I worry that is not appealing enough for the masses. It was ok.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Philosophical rather than pragmatic. This is not a self-help book. It is about the author's journey in Buddhism, meditation, and psychotherapy. Philosophical rather than pragmatic. This is not a self-help book. It is about the author's journey in Buddhism, meditation, and psychotherapy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Read this for the Supergirl Radio book club, as this wouldn't ordinarily be my jam. I liked some of the concepts in the book and it was interesting to learn more about the intersection of Buddhism and psychology, and how Buddhist principles could be applied to a psychological framework. I definitely liked the idea of being present in the moment, as someone who can't seem to watch TV or read without checking my phone a million times. Some interesting stuff. Also now I want to know so much more ab Read this for the Supergirl Radio book club, as this wouldn't ordinarily be my jam. I liked some of the concepts in the book and it was interesting to learn more about the intersection of Buddhism and psychology, and how Buddhist principles could be applied to a psychological framework. I definitely liked the idea of being present in the moment, as someone who can't seem to watch TV or read without checking my phone a million times. Some interesting stuff. Also now I want to know so much more about Ram Dass aka Richard Alpert (hey Lost references!).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sienna

    A new favorite author for me. I enjoy how Epstein brings together the ideas of communication & Buddhism to present a clear, open path.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I had heard such great things about Epstein. Perhaps I will try him again in the future, but I could barely stop myself from rolling my eyes at his passive, oh so wise writing voice. Instead of actually teaching his reader how to become mindful, he just drones on about the theory of mindfulness. It's ironic, but the book really failed to hold my attention. There's a portion where he talks about the Buddhist theory that if something bores you, you should do it twice. Maybe I should read this book I had heard such great things about Epstein. Perhaps I will try him again in the future, but I could barely stop myself from rolling my eyes at his passive, oh so wise writing voice. Instead of actually teaching his reader how to become mindful, he just drones on about the theory of mindfulness. It's ironic, but the book really failed to hold my attention. There's a portion where he talks about the Buddhist theory that if something bores you, you should do it twice. Maybe I should read this book again?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Standard Schaefer

    Mostly good for thinking about Winnecot and child rearing

  11. 4 out of 5

    John

    Less accessible than his other book, Going to Pieces. A little too spiritual and a little less practical.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lora Shouse

    I frankly couldn’t tell if this audiobook was the abridged version or the full version. But it apparently didn’t matter too much either way. It appears to be primarily an essay on Mark Epstein’s journey to integrate his Buddhist practice with his career as a psychotherapist. Epstein appears to practice some combination of Zen Buddhism and mindfulness meditation. He tells about his early forays into Buddhist meditation and the mentors who helped him to understand his practice. He also talks about t I frankly couldn’t tell if this audiobook was the abridged version or the full version. But it apparently didn’t matter too much either way. It appears to be primarily an essay on Mark Epstein’s journey to integrate his Buddhist practice with his career as a psychotherapist. Epstein appears to practice some combination of Zen Buddhism and mindfulness meditation. He tells about his early forays into Buddhist meditation and the mentors who helped him to understand his practice. He also talks about the theory of going on being, and how this relates to his view that psychotherapy needn’t necessarily focus only on fixing people’s problems, either by eliminating them or by “going deeper into” them. Sometimes it is enough just to understand the problem and to know that you can live with it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erica Sanders

    I generally love books on the intersection between Buddhism and medicine, Buddhism and modern life, or Buddhism and Christianity. This one was more challenging to read for me - partly due to the sentence structure and word choices, I wasn’t always sure what the author was trying to say. And partly because the flow of the book is a bit choppy. It wasn’t one coherent story, it wasn’t a collection of individual thoughts or stories. It was written almost like it was supposed to be one story but it d I generally love books on the intersection between Buddhism and medicine, Buddhism and modern life, or Buddhism and Christianity. This one was more challenging to read for me - partly due to the sentence structure and word choices, I wasn’t always sure what the author was trying to say. And partly because the flow of the book is a bit choppy. It wasn’t one coherent story, it wasn’t a collection of individual thoughts or stories. It was written almost like it was supposed to be one story but it doesn’t really flow in a logical way. There are bits and pieces that I enjoyed but overall I left the book unsure of what I wanted to take away from it or what the author was trying to tell me. I’m not even sure I could clearly define what the author means by going on being. Note that I did listen to this as an audiobook so perhaps this is one that you need to read on paper.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nickole

    Really fantastic short read. I have recently been delving into positive psychology and this came up on a library book search for “positive psychology“. I have always practiced elements of Buddhism mostly in mindfulness and meditation and was delighted to see a book that on the cover seemed to be touching on both Buddhism and positive psychology. And while it is it about positive psychology in the way that I am learning it from the VIA Institute but it does talk about the rooms of analysis and bu Really fantastic short read. I have recently been delving into positive psychology and this came up on a library book search for “positive psychology“. I have always practiced elements of Buddhism mostly in mindfulness and meditation and was delighted to see a book that on the cover seemed to be touching on both Buddhism and positive psychology. And while it is it about positive psychology in the way that I am learning it from the VIA Institute but it does talk about the rooms of analysis and buddhism mostly in relationship to meditation. It’s a great book for anyone who is interested in tapping into a positive psychological effects of practicing Buddhist Philosophy and meditation and not getting into the dogma of Buddhism as a religion.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mack Hayden

    A nice memoir and explanation of why Buddhism has meant the world to this psychotherapist. Not a whole lot of original or revelatory material here, but it’s further proof of how well this ancient philosophy has stood the test of time. It’s truly uncanny how much of modern psychonalytic theory was predicted by the Buddha and his immediate acolytes. Definitely an edifying read, but it still feels like a supplemental source rather than a primary one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ash Hiebert

    Didn't realize it was an autobiography when I grabbed this then his other works. Perhaps the rating is unfair for that reason. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if it had been what I expected. I slogged through it at night before bed and it definitely helped put me to sleep... For months. I could barely get through two pages before passing out each night. Much prefer his "going to pieces without falling apart" book. Didn't realize it was an autobiography when I grabbed this then his other works. Perhaps the rating is unfair for that reason. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if it had been what I expected. I slogged through it at night before bed and it definitely helped put me to sleep... For months. I could barely get through two pages before passing out each night. Much prefer his "going to pieces without falling apart" book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Although this was an interesting book, it was more a story of Mark Epstein's own journey into Buddhism and meditation. It provided the background as to how he integrated it into his own medical practice and the changes that it has made to him and his own life as well as the lives of people around him. I have a lot of respect for the author, but I am not sure this was the strongest of his books that I have read. Although this was an interesting book, it was more a story of Mark Epstein's own journey into Buddhism and meditation. It provided the background as to how he integrated it into his own medical practice and the changes that it has made to him and his own life as well as the lives of people around him. I have a lot of respect for the author, but I am not sure this was the strongest of his books that I have read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Sutton

    If it was only a memoir of his journey, it would of been an easy 5 star experience. When your gurus are Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and Ram Dass, you know you're in for a ride. Freud and Winnicott were a big part of the book and it became a slog to get through in parts. If it was only a memoir of his journey, it would of been an easy 5 star experience. When your gurus are Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and Ram Dass, you know you're in for a ride. Freud and Winnicott were a big part of the book and it became a slog to get through in parts.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy Kearns

    I ended up getting annoyed about this bc listened to it while I also had the book. Even though the audio said unabridged it wasn't the same as the book! So my rating is partially unfair. But that said, I didn't like it as much as the others I've been reading, though there are some good insights. I ended up getting annoyed about this bc listened to it while I also had the book. Even though the audio said unabridged it wasn't the same as the book! So my rating is partially unfair. But that said, I didn't like it as much as the others I've been reading, though there are some good insights.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Greg Schumaker

    Filled with bits of insights and an introduction to Buddhism that ever-so-slightly shifted the way I see the world (and myself) for the better.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This was lent to me by someone far more familiar with Buddhism than me. Not having the background made it quite a difficult read. A little to esoteric as a whole, for my tastes.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Among my favorite books on Buddhism. Practical and not too esoteric.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I’m beginning to understand more of the vocabulary of Buddhism. I like the concept of going on being.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    This is second time I've ventured into Epstein's spiritual autobiography which includes Buddhist teachings and reflections on psychotherapy. Epstein is without doubt one of my favorite writers - his "Going to pieces without falling apart" a book that was a doorway to the spiritual path for me; and Going on Being doesn't let me down. He takes us through the obstacles we come up against when trying to live in a manner that is present and in contact with our world, ideally not creating excess suffer This is second time I've ventured into Epstein's spiritual autobiography which includes Buddhist teachings and reflections on psychotherapy. Epstein is without doubt one of my favorite writers - his "Going to pieces without falling apart" a book that was a doorway to the spiritual path for me; and Going on Being doesn't let me down. He takes us through the obstacles we come up against when trying to live in a manner that is present and in contact with our world, ideally not creating excess suffering or disconnection. He shares examples of how meditation practice aided his own understanding of this, and facilitated change in the way he related to what life threw up; how it support both insight and action. I particularly appreciated the stories of his encounters with Naropians Baba Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, and Joseph Goldstein. I also rest easy in his throwbacks to Winnicott and to a lesser degree Bion, who clearly were an entry point for his thinking in terms of therapy, and his spiritual path (although he didn't know it) Epstein communicates the subtleties and depth of meditation practice, such as the middle way of practice - the intent not to suppress or maintain some state of being such as calmness, but to expand our spaciousness to welcome whatever arises in our experience along with our conditioned reaction to that e.g. we experience pain and aversion to that pain with compassion and understanding and non-reactivity. I think he a good job of then translating how such practice is relevant to the experiences of therapy clients and the psychotherapy processes. There is little guidance for the latter however. The connection between meditation and psychotherapy is perhaps clearest in this quote: "Meditation seems to me an effort in reparenting. The mind is trained through restraint not to abandon or interfere. Patience, acceptance, and trust are encouraged, while the mediator is cautioned not to push away the unpleasant or hold onto the pleasant. The reactive mind gives way to a vast holding capacity".

  25. 4 out of 5

    Clara

    This is a spiritual biography of sorts. It outlines Mark Epstein's introduction to Buddhism and the ways in which his Buddhist outlook intersects with his work as psychotherapist. It's both straightforward and engaging, probably a lot like Epstein, who seems to be the type of therapist we all wish we'd had at some point in our lives. It's said that the Buddha was the first psychologist, and Epstein supports that claim. He's particularly articulate on the development of his meditation practice, a This is a spiritual biography of sorts. It outlines Mark Epstein's introduction to Buddhism and the ways in which his Buddhist outlook intersects with his work as psychotherapist. It's both straightforward and engaging, probably a lot like Epstein, who seems to be the type of therapist we all wish we'd had at some point in our lives. It's said that the Buddha was the first psychologist, and Epstein supports that claim. He's particularly articulate on the development of his meditation practice, and the ways in which it's helped him relate more effectively to his patients. He also offers vivid portrayals of some of his early teachers--Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Ram Dass, among them--conveying both the lessons and the aspects of their personalities that resonated with him. Reading Going on Being was like spending a few hours with a thoughtful and serene friend--a needed respite in a busy day.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gary Gress

    A book this is not; rules of good writing apply to even the enlightened, but they are all absent here. Paradoxically, one would think such people to be excellent writers, able to connect with their readers and convey their message with grace and ease. I found no semblance of a message between the wasted covers, just mind-numbing self-absorption. If I could I'd give this heap of paper a single negative star, for a positive one presumes it has added to my life. A book this is not; rules of good writing apply to even the enlightened, but they are all absent here. Paradoxically, one would think such people to be excellent writers, able to connect with their readers and convey their message with grace and ease. I found no semblance of a message between the wasted covers, just mind-numbing self-absorption. If I could I'd give this heap of paper a single negative star, for a positive one presumes it has added to my life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Zaven

    This is essentially Epstein's spiritual autobiography. It weaves a convincing fabric from the threads of Buddhist philosophy and psychotherapy. I found it highly readable and entertaining, and very helpful in understanding more of Buddhist psychology. Epstein is one of my favorite Buddhist authors. This is essentially Epstein's spiritual autobiography. It weaves a convincing fabric from the threads of Buddhist philosophy and psychotherapy. I found it highly readable and entertaining, and very helpful in understanding more of Buddhist psychology. Epstein is one of my favorite Buddhist authors.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tash

    I thought this was an excellent book. It is really clearly written and does an incredible job of articulating exactly how meditation creates a therapeutic effect. If you are a psychoanalyst or training to become one and you have an interest in meditation you must read this book. I did not expect to like it that much, but I found it to be illuminating.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Taron

    A refreshing look at Buddhism from the perspective of a Westerner trained as a Freudian psychoanalyst. I find time and again that the more I read about Buddhism the more it makes sense as a philosophy to help people get through anything that life throws our way. Epstein's analytical approach really supports this. A refreshing look at Buddhism from the perspective of a Westerner trained as a Freudian psychoanalyst. I find time and again that the more I read about Buddhism the more it makes sense as a philosophy to help people get through anything that life throws our way. Epstein's analytical approach really supports this.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    Great tidbits, especially in regards to being a therapist, Winnicot, Freud, and parenting. Some bits are overly intellectual at times that makes it too heady and a struggle understand easily. But fundamentally an important book for professional and personal growth, with a wealth of wisdom shared within.

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