Frequently Asked Questions
The short answer is, wherever good books are sold! If online shopping is your style, you can order a paperback copy of from all the major retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble and more). It's also available as an eBook through Amazon's Kindle store, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and other sites. Check out the A Spacious Life page for links to the various stores.
Yes. It’s a memoir, which means what I’ve written is my true to my personal journey through life, as I remember it. As with any memoir, I’ve had to pick and choose what details to share with you (let's face it, if I included everything that's happened to me over the years it'd fill a library, not to mention put you to sleep!) I've also condensed some events and conversations for the sake of presenting a story that flows in a readable way—but never in a way that compromises the integrity or truthfulness of what I’ve written. I’ve shared some personal snapshots of my life in my image gallery; if you browse through the photos you’ll be able to spot several people and places I’ve written about in the book.
Not at all, just a student. I believe we all need to investigate things for ourselves and find our own path, and I hope sharing my story inspires you to keep exploring yours.
Nothing really, except the approval of my teacher to share my experiences as a student of Buddhism. I hope you will see mine as a human story, more so than a Buddhist story. I’ve tried to keep any mention of Buddhist concepts as simple and relevant as possible, but if you would like more detail and clarification about any aspect of the Dhamma, or Dharma (both mean the Buddhist teachings), I would encourage you to seek out an appropriately qualified source. There are some wonderful and generous teachers out there who freely share many gems of wisdom.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but below are some I have been personally inspired by (or visit my 'Buddhism' bookshelf on GoodReads for a longer list).
Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path, White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha
A rich and wonderful exploration of the Buddha’s life told through narrative story. This book was given to me as a gift and I loved every minute of the journey it took me on.
THAI FOREST TRADITION
Ajahn Chah’s Dhamma Talks, transcripts available to read for free at ajahnchah.org
The late Ajahn Chah is one of the most revered masters of the forest tradition; his simple style speaks straight to the heart, yet I find more layers of meaning each time I read his words.
Ajahn Brahm, Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond: A Meditator’s Handbook
Ajahn Brahm is a Western monk who was born in the UK and studied in Thailand under Ajahn Chah. His comprehensive (yet un-daunting) guide to meditation includes the deep absorptive states known as the jhanas; I’ve recommended this book to many friends seeking clarification about practice and I always find that revisiting it reminds me why I meditate and how valuable the journey is.
Ajahn Brahm, Opening the Door of Your Heart: And Other Buddhist Tales of Happiness
Wisdom in the guise of hilarious and heart-warming anecdotes; you’ll want at least two copies of this book—one to keep and the other(s) to share with people you love. I should know, because I keep giving away mine!
Ajahn Sumano Bhikkhu, Questions from the City, Answers from the Forest: Simple Lessons on Living from a Western Buddhist Monk
Another student of Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sumano Bikkhu was an American corporate worker before becoming a monk and living and practicing in a cave in Thailand. This book is a series of questions posed by visitors at his meditation retreat sanctuary, and the Ajahn’s pithy answers; the nuggets of wisdom therein may well inspire a shift in the way you engage with life.TIBETAN BUDDHISM
His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Howard C. Cutler, The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living
In conversation with His Holiness, psychiatrist Dr. Cutler builds a bridge between his modern Western outlook and the perspective of one of the most beloved spiritual leaders of our generation.
Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
A modern spiritual classic, and for good reason. This book is full of relatable insights about all aspects of Buddhism from karma and impermanence to the journey beyond death and how to prepare ourselves for it in this lifetime. It has been an invaluable resource and comfort to many who are bereaved or seriously ill, but is relevant to any of us seeking a way to live with meaning in the modern world.
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, What Makes You Not a Buddhist
Beyond robes, prayer beads, and incense, what exactly does it means to be a Buddhist? This book cuts to the heart of it with lashings of dry humour and wit, although don’t be fooled—this is not a whimsical read but a teaching rich with wisdom insights.
Matthieu Ricard with Jean-Francois Revel, The Monk and The Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life
French Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard explores the most profound questions of life with his father, a notable philosopher; this is a meeting of sparkling intelligent minds, if you will, each coming to the dialogue with openness and respect; I would recommend it to those with an inclination toward the scholarly.
Unlike some other modern masters, Luang Pu is currently quite reclusive and does not run a public retreat centre. Out of respect for him, I would certainly like to honour that choice. There are many masters who give public talks and hold retreats all over the world. Perhaps you might like to start with the above list of teachers if you’re looking to receive a more in-depth training. Update: Luang Pu passed away in 2016. His blessings are still very much present in my heart and the hearts of all his students. May they be with you too, in every mindful moment and each time you choose the path of kindness, compassion, and developing wisdom.
In my book I’ve shared some of my experiences along with the basic instructions I was given, but again I would suggest you to find a qualified teacher if you’re seeking a more comprehensive training.
If you simply want somewhere to start, I’ve produced a short guided meditation that is free to download. But I would still encourage you to investigate further, because the practice is one of learning to work with your own mind—and that’s something that can be done anytime and anywhere, and once you understand how, you won’t need an external voice guiding you.
I aspire to a consistent daily practice, and for the most part I do maintain one…but to be perfectly honest, there have been times I’ve let everyday life get between me and the cushion (no excuses, it’s a flaw I’m constantly working on!)
The length of time I meditate for varies from 15 minutes to a few hours. Perhaps the inconsistency of my practice highlights exactly why it’s a called practice—I certainly never feel like a model practitioner, and I am constantly working with my imperfect tendencies—meaningful positive change takes time and persistence! However, I can tell you that I definitely feel the difference (in a good way!) when I am making meditation a daily priority.
Regardless of how long I’ve formally sat for on any given day, I also practice mindfulness as much as possible—that means being present with each moment instead of letting my mind get carried off on all sorts of random tangents. I practice this whether I’m driving, washing the dishes, having a conversation or typing an email; you could say it’s somewhat a form of meditation-in-action and just as powerful as a formal sitting practice.
I also find it effective to take a couple of minutes here and there throughout the day (for example sitting in my car before an appointment) to calm my mind in meditation. You might be surprised how transformative even a minute or two of stillness can be in the midst of a hectic day.
Please check my events page for current info on my upcoming engagements. You can also sign up for email updates and I’ll keep you posted.
No, I’m sorry, I don’t. But I most certainly wish you health, happiness, and wellbeing on your journey.
Yes, I have started working on another project. This one is about the quality we call 'metta', which is often translated as 'loving-kindness' or 'unconditional friendliness'. Stay tuned...