Living in Blue Sky Mind: Basic Buddhist Teachings for a Happy Life
by Richard Gentei Diedrichs
MSI Press

"We do not make up stories about the way things are, the way things were, or the way we wish they were. Just the way they are. Right here. Right now."

Living in Blue Sky Mind is a book of Buddhist core beliefs and practices. Like a book of meditations, each chapter is brief, and most are one to three pages. Each contains a principle and how the principle is approached. The chapters' lessons are cumulative. For example, the first chapter, "How We Talk," demonstrates a lesson about the needless pain caused by lying. It concludes, "Buddha meant exactly that feeling when he talked about suffering. Our hurtful, mindless speech causes the people around us to suffer." Each of the dozens of chapters reveals karma, essentially that each being's actions, words, and thoughts contribute positive and negative forces to the universe. They will encounter the results of their actions at some time and feel the effects directly.

Author Diedrichs, who is a Zen priest and a Dharma teacher, structured the book as a primer, so that it may be understood by people of many age groups and comprehension levels. Each chapter includes a short list of "Reflections," which are questions for discussion or meditation. Examples include personal questions: "Do you have a Jimmy (a person who betrayed someone) in your life?" They move to a general question: "Does forgiveness solve everything?"

The book's problem/answer format may seem elementary and is intended to be. An example is the lesson of the "Eightfold Path," which states, "pain and anxiety fill our lives/ our pain is caused by our wanting and holding on to things/ we can stop the pain in our lives, and/ the way to end the pain is to follow the Eightfold Path." The lessons are brief and true, as the author has experienced and taught them. It is a useful format for young people, as well as those who want a basic introduction to Buddhism.

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