Synopses & Reviews
is a way of bringing the tranquility and insight attained in meditation directly into your interactions with other people. It's a practice that involves interacting with a partner in a retreat setting or on your own, as a way of accessing a profound kind of insight. Then, you take that insight on into the grind of everyday human interactions. Gregory Kramer has been teaching the practice (which he originated) for more than a decade in retreats around the world. It's something strikingly new in the world of Buddhist practice yet it's completely grounded in traditional Buddhist teaching.
Kramer begins with a detailed presentation of the central Buddhist teaching of the Four Noble Truths seen through an interpersonal lens. Because dukkha (suffering or unsatisfactoriness) is often most forcefully felt in our relations with others, interpersonal relationships are a wonderfully useful place to practice. He breaks the Noble Truths down into component parts to observe how they manifest particularly in relationship to others, using examples from his own life and practice, as well as from his students'. He then goes on to present the practice as it's taught in his workshops and retreats. There are a few basic steps to the practice, deceptively simple to describe: (1) pause, (2) relax, (3) open, (4) trust emergence, (5) listen deeply, and (6) speak the truth.
The sequence begins following a period of meditation, and includes periods of speaking, listening, and mutual silence. Kramer includes numerous examples of people's experience with the practice from his retreats, and shows how the insight gained from the techniques can be brought into real life. More than just testimonials for how well the practice "works," the personal stories demonstrate the problems that arise, the different routes the practice can follow, and the sometimes surprising insights that are gained.
"'Lots of Buddhist books are using meditation to inspect the mind and watch its workings. The process works exceptionally well for monks and nuns, but the rest of the human race is busy householding, spends less time on the meditation cushion and could use a little help in applying Buddhist teachings to the messy world of relationships. This book by Buddhist meditation teacher Kramer fills that need somewhat unevenly. Kramer is a longtime student and teacher in the insight meditation tradition and has also studied Buddhist psychology. He has developed, and teaches, a practice that engages partners in a structured dialogue based on Buddhist practices and principles. Such dialogue, like meditation, yields insight. The book is at its best when the author explains and teaches this unique practice, offering real-world examples. Less successful, and far less novel, is a section that relates Buddhism's four noble truths to 'interpersonal truths.' This section is larded with sweeping psychological generalizations conveyed in fuzzy language ('All of these hungers rest on self-concept; they are the core around which the self constellates'). This book has potential as a text for advanced Buddhist practitioners interested in extending their practice into everyday life to illuminate and improve their relationships. (Sept. 11)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In this pioneering work, Gregory Kramer breaks new ground in applying the Buddha's teachings to our lives, relationships, and meditative understandings. This book will be of tremendous benefit to all those seeking freedom in their daily lives." Joseph Goldstein, author of Insight Meditation and One Dharma
"Beautifully written and elegantly structured, Insight Dialogue unpacks and enriches practices for extending and deepening our awareness of social interactions in all their complexity, with all their shadow, pain, and promise, in the service of authentic freedom and the humbling realization of deepest connection." Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses and Arriving at Your Own Door
"Meditation is great; how much better to bring the tranquility that results into your relationships with others." Library Journal
About the Author
Gregory Kramer is co-founder and president of the Metta Foundation, Portland, Oregon, a center of Buddhist practice in the Insight Meditation tradition. He teaches Insight Dialogue at retreats and workshops extensively throughout North America, Australia, and Europe.