Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

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For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much--just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work--to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully.
--from Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance

“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” says Tara Brach at the start of this illuminating book. This suffering emerges in crippling self-judgments and conflicts in our relationships, in addictions and perfectionism, in loneliness and overwork--all the forces that keep our lives constricted and unfulfilled. Radical Acceptance offers a path to freedom, including the day-to-day practical guidance developed over Dr. Brach’s twenty years of work with therapy clients and Buddhist students.

Writing with great warmth and clarity, Tara Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. Step by step, she leads us to trust our innate goodness, showing how we can develop the balance of clear-sightedness and compassion that is the essence of Radical Acceptance. Radical Acceptance does not mean self-indulgence or passivity. Instead it empowers genuine change: healing fear and shame and helping to build loving, authentic relationships. When we stop being at war with ourselves, we are free to live fully every precious moment of our lives.

From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • A truly amazing book that will change your life
    I've read a number of books on Buddhism, and many of them include a fair amount of discussion on "suffering" and how much of our pain is perpetuated by our telling stories to ourselves. The mind (and heart) is seemingly forever tangled in a web of doubt, what-ifs, and events that exist mostly or entirely in one's head. As Mark Twain put it, "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened."

    That, in essence, is what /Radical Acceptance/ is about, but it goes above and beyond the seemingly brief gloss-over treatment traditional western Buddhist books give this subject. Tara Brach has crafted an amazing book that opens your eyes to just how much suffering we tend to bring upon ourselves. Despite the very serious nature of what this book deals with, it is a delight to read. With each turn of the page, you begin to see more and more clearly. It's like having a compassionate, age-old friend guide you down the road of your own emotions and thoughts.

    If you take the time to truly digest what /Radical Acceptance/ is all about, I can guarantee it will change you forever. My brief description here cannot do it justice by any measure - just as the storytelling and strategizing of the mind cannot do justice to the vibrant reality of the world. You might think a book about suffering and self-delusion would be depressing, but it is entirely the opposite. It's like suddenly being able to see with clarity after being caught up in a dense fog for so long. And that, I believe, is the highest praise you can give any book....more info

  • What an amazing book!
    Thank you, Tara Brach, for a beautiful book!! Her words are full of inspiration as she explains how we can wake up from the "trance of unworthiness" to embrace life. The concept of applying mindfulness plus compassion is so powerful. If only people could be as kind to themselves as they are to their friends, what a happier place the world would be. Just try it for a day and you will be amazed! The anecdotes, quotes and poems included are just perfect. A life-changing book...I want to recommend it to everyone I meet!!...more info
  • Not called "Radical" for nothing!
    Initially borrowed this book from the library to see if it was worth buying; thought I would just entertain myself, if nothing else. Read many other meditational books but this has been the ONLY effective one that gave me the tools to help deal with the vicious cycle of self-negative thoughts. These tools are not "airy-fairy" & has been written in a most excellent way with plenty of examples of what other people have gone through & how to have compassion towards oneself. It just takes an open & willing heart. This book has been so life altering that I'm looking forward to joining one of the vipassana meditation retreats held by the author. Thanks Tara for writing this book for me!!!...more info
  • A non-Buddhist, non-spiritual seeker says:
    This type of book really isn't my sort of thing. But I loved the way Rumi is woven in and out as a recurrent poetic theme and, mostly, was fascinated by the journey of this woman who has developed a practical path out of the miseries into what could be a comfortable and self-accepting life. Other non-spiritual types will find themselves loving it, too!...more info
  • The Title says it all ...
    This was a real eye-opening book. I had wanted to learn more about how to meditate. I felt as if she wrote the book just for me. Not only did I learn about meditation but about how to change my thinking in ways I didn't even realize I needed to, which in turn, helped my meditation practice even more than I expected. Tara's book is definitely one to add to your library....more info
  • From a fellow therapist
    Even though this book has Buddha in the subtitle, this book is the best of three worlds. Fundamentally, this is a book about awareness and awakening, which springs from a rich Buddhist tradition. However, it is also a book about the way awareness and awakening should be applied in the setting of therapy. Also, this is a book about the journey of the author, through her life, through her pain, to the fullness and divinity that is available in each moment. This makes the reading even more enjoyable and real.

    Finally and for me most importantly, this is a book about pain and how saying yes instead of saying no to our pain is the true path to freedom. Ms. Brach's approach is not to act out your pain, but to become fully aware of it.

    This book should be every therapist's required reading....more info

  • Empowering
    I think this is a wonderfully empowering book. It is a compelling collection of teachings and poetry reflecting the wisdom of Buddhism along with insights from Western psychology. With clarity Brach reveals a deep understanding of how we limit our happiness through self-judgment, doubt, and that common nagging feeling of simply "not being good enough." She gently guides us in accepting ourselves compassionately as human beings with emotions and mind-states and to use that self-knowledge in constructing a meaningful life in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. The guided meditations she intersperses encourage us to be fully engaged in the message on an emotional level - through the heart - and not simply intellectually. It is a truly inspiring, supportive book. I recommend it easily....more info
  • One life to live
    We only go through this life once. Tara Brach's book gives us the wisdom to make the most of what we have. In her writing, Tara discusses how to learn to live with whatever we have to face and to face it with acceptance, compassion and the full passion of life. The scope of her teaching admits to all the frailities of humankind while showing us how to bring love and compassion to ourselves. It is by starting with self acceptance that we can widen our acceptance to those we love and others.

    The book presents concepts that are easy to grasp - some of them are "aha!" - and offers concrete things we can do to move us along the path of radical acceptance.

    This book is a keeper. I can see going back to it many times for inspiration and guidance....more info

  • Great book on mindfulness, but limited in other ways
    Tara Brach is a great teacher of psychology and an especially brilliant teacher of mindfulness, but I think her teachings of Buddhism are reductionist when it comes to their fundamental core.

    I concur with what many of the reviewers have said below about how well Tara Brach brings the Buddhist teachings on awareness and compassion to light. This book is particularly valuable for those who are interested in Buddhism as a collection of practical, secular techniques to improve personal well-being and social relationships. It is "accessible", "practical" and "heart-warming". In this sense Tara Brach is a master of human psychology.

    However, those who are interested in seeing what the Buddha saw (which is a possiblity for all), in living in such a way that it is no longer necessary to cultivate joy but merely have bliss follow one like a shadow, in realizing the formless compassion of the Buddhas which is beyond the limited techniques of psychology, should question some of the assertions in this book.

    The primary notion Tara Brach emphasizes which, while believable from a psychological perspective, is highly questionable from a Buddhist perspective, is the notion that "awareness is the true self" or "compassion is the true self". Tara Brach describes the true self as something one knows when one has the clear mind of meditation (whether seated or in daily life) or a compassionate heart, but doesn't know when one gets distracted or angry or self-doubting. In one passage, she describes being her true self one morning, getting distracted, and then losing touch with her true self. This makes it sound like the "true self" is some separate state, which is then defined with terms like awareness and compassion.

    There are many different interpretations of Buddhism and there is no way to objectively to say which is 'right' or 'authentic', but the view that the true self is something which comes in one state of mind and leaves in another is highly suspect. The "true self" in Buddhism, to the extent that one wishes to use such terminology, is altogether everywhere, without differentiation or degree. It neither comes nor goes nor sits nor reclines. One does not need to do any practice or be in any state to realize it; it cannot be with you sometimes and not with you other times. It depends on no state of mind, no practice, no virtue - it is unconditioned.

    All conditioned things (which includes the elements that we humans often mistakenly think we are such as our personalities or our virtues or our values or some profound mental/emotional state we come to) are intrinsically Nirvanic. In other words, confusion and anger are no less our "true self" than "awareness".

    Read this book, love it, cherish it, and learn from it, but ask yourself whether the real cessation of suffering the Buddha knew is some state of "awareness" or "compassion", something that is here when you are clear minded and gone when you are not. I don't think that's what the Buddha taught.

    But you can read the Majjhima Nikaya, available at Amazon, (Suttas 7, 10, 22, 26 are particularly relevant to this question) and find out for yourself.

    Awareness and compassion are very important, but the Buddha did not mistake them for a "true self". The Buddha rode on a raft of such positive states, such good karma, to cross to the other shore, but when he got there, he abandoned even them, he knew what was before and after them and what illuminates them beyond any faculty, and that is what allowed him to save thousands of beings with merely a word or a smile or a gesture.

    I think Tara Brach has written a brilliant book, but she could have improved it by staying within the limits of her own insight, not diminshing Buddhism with the confines of psychology. This books shows the limits of trying to express Buddhism with Western science and humanism, in other words of thinking the truths of Buddhism can be mastered without a shift in one's fundamental world view....more info

  • 5 Cheers for Tara
    I've been involved in Vipassana for many, many years and Tara Brach has always been a huge influence on me... Her skillful means at guiding people through the perils of the "monkey-mind" that overrun most everyone and offer practical suggestions on how we can actively choose to become whole and peaceful inside are second to none. Everyone should read this book because we all at one time or another struggle with "not being enough" in our daily endeavors or by our parents or coworkers or even friends. Tara shows a path to happiness that we should all heed....more info
  • Moving, wonderful book
    This book has had a very powerful effect on me. I quit reading spiritual books a year or so ago, and recently decided to step back in to reading a few. This was a very good choice. She communicates from her own humanity, letting me as the reader find myself in the text.

    The book is broken down into a series of topics, each having to do with different ways in which we struggle or different ways to deal with struggling to accept ourselves. For each topic, she offers a discussion, including anecdotes from her and her counseling clients' lives. Then she provides a meditation that focuses on that topic. It's a very nicely laid out book....more info
  • Great Guide and Aid. Very influential
    This book and esp. the audio tape I have found to be very compelling. My heart felt much lightened by listening to Brach on more than several occasions. If eventually you wear out on listening to it, it's a great gift to pass along....more info
  • Great Book
    Great book, easy relatable read. Simple and to the point. Hit alot of core issues for me and was very easy to apply the lessons. ...more info
  • Life As It Is
    As the title of this marvelous book indicates, Tara Brach shows each and every one of us the path towards accepting our life as it is. This doesn't mean, as you may be wondering, never strive in the direction of change. It's just that, well, change is pretty much a given anyhow. Tara's philosophy (not necessarily writing style) reminds me of Thich Nhat Hanh and his works on mindfulness. Like the book Anger by Nhat Hanh, Tara proposes we must embrace our emotions and perceived shortcomings with the love a mother would have for it's child. There is an absolute plethora of Buddhist/Self Help books on the shelves these days that aren't really worth mentioning, but this book stands out. The most important factor is that you don't even need to be practicing Buddhism to benefit from his wisdom. Just as I have learned from such Christian writers as Thomas Merton and Anthony de Mello, Christians (or any religious tradition's followers) can learn much from this. It's the kind of imperfect life experience all of us can relate to in her work that appeals to me. She's down to earth, introspective (as opposed to preachy), and compassionately skilled in all of her words. Tara Brach holds a Ph.D. and is a clinical psychologist in addition to being a lay Buddhist priest and vipassana meditation guide. In Washington, D.C. she founded the "Insight Meditation Community." She also participates in running various workshops nationally. If your making a "books to buy" list for 2004, put this on there; it's genuinely worth the read. Thanks Tara....more info
  • A practical and gentle way to alleviate our suffering
    Tara Brach's new book, Radical Acceptance, is a gem. I recommend it for anyone, not just students of Buddhist meditation. There is something here for all of us who self-judge, who get so lost in fantasies, old hurts, worries and fabricated stories that we miss out on the peace, simplicity and happiness that can be found by just paying attention to this moment. And that is the key and what Tara so gracefully and gently points the reader to (through real-life examples and guided meditations and exercises) -- that we actually can, in our very mundane everyday lives, find the peace, simplicity and true happiness that our hearts really long for. Tara shows us how in practical and do-able ways....more info
  • Provides detailed guidelines
    I have read quite a number of Buddhist books. But this is the first one I've read that actually shows how to apply Buddhist philosophy to my own life. Brach does a great job of explaining some of the central Buddhist precepts and then takes things a step further by explaining how these can work in every day life and giving very detailed, practical suggestions and meditation tips showing just how to incorporate these principles. I've grown so much from reading her book and feel I have a much deeper understanding of the ways Buddhism can provide healing and change one's perspective. I can't wait for her next book! ...more info
  • Give yourself a chance and read this book
    Give yourself a chance, be honest to yourself and start healing.
    It's a wonderful book. The instructions are clear and easy. The hard part is to be loving towards oneself and stop the criticism.
    I am very thankful for this book.
    It's wonderful....more info
  • Tara Brach Challenges Your Thinking
    Ms. Brach's book is a different approach to wellness. She encourages being present in your daily life, rather than always racing ahead mentally. She promotes accomplishing this through guided meditations. These meditations are thorough and require a certain amount of discipline to follow. Ms. Brach's books challenges the reader to drop the ongoing dialogue and planning the flow through one's head continuously. Instead, she asks the reader to really accept what is happening in the present moment--good or bad, recognize how the body reacts to it, and then just be with it. It is a radical way of thinking. However, she does not leave you hanging--each chapter breaks down ways this can be accomplished in addition to the meditations. This is a good read for a person who is open to a more Eastern way of thinking. In my opinion though, it is not a book that should be rushed through--rather it should be read slowly to allow the reader to process each new idea per chapter....more info
  • Buy it Read it Love it!
    In every day life we use too much time thinking and not enough time acting. This book wil help you with a remarkeble kindness.

    From the Netherlands with love...more info
  • A book with heart
    'A book with heart.'

    In the 25 centuries since the Buddha's enlightenment under the tree in northern India, his teachings have taken on unique expressions as they spread from India and throughout Asia. The core of the teachings kept their integrity and directness, but the forms and expressions they took both helped shape and were shaped by the cultures and pre-existing traditions in these countries.

    As the Buddha's teachings have spread to the West-particularly in the last two generations-a similarly fascinating encounter is at work. Westerners have the opportunity to read, explore, and practice in a variety of Buddhist traditions-Tibetan, Zen, Insight meditation and others. At the same time, Buddhism in the West is being shaped by our own social, political, cultural, and scientific history of recent centuries-so already Buddhism here looks less monastic, more gender equal, more focused on the inner search for truth than on external rites and rituals, and more agnostic on questions that are not so easily testable by our own direct experience, e.g., reincarnation.

    The spiritual marketplace is rich with the extraordinary contributions of Westerners who have spent extensive time in Asia studying with teachers there and coming back to share their wisdom-Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Christopher Titmuss, to name just some of those teaching in the Insight meditation tradition. They have all succeeded in taking these perennial wisdom teachings and expressing them in a language that is accessible to Westerners from many walks of life and spiritual backgrounds.

    Tara Brach's `Radical Acceptance: Embracing your Life with the Heart of a Buddha' is a wonderful continuation of this still-new encounter. As a Buddhist meditation teacher and a psychotherapist, Brach is well placed to bring the wisdom and compassion of Buddhist teachings together with the insights and understandings of psychotherapy. But this is not a slam-dunk. Ancient wisdom teachings mixed with Western therapeutic approaches can come out as New Age pablum. Brach succeeds by staying true to the Buddha's statement: "I teach one thing and one thing alone: suffering and its end.' She finds much of our suffering in the West in our own lack of worth or worthiness and sees that happiness, contentment, and awakening must come through a full and loving acceptance of who we are-rather than trying to escape from, avoid, or transcend our fears, desire, and longings.

    `Radical Acceptance' is a book full of heart, full of the desire for all of us, all beings, to realize our true potential, our true nature, our Buddha nature. It is replete with stories from Brach's own experience that do not put her on a pedestal-`the teacher: be like her'-but say clearly that these fears, this lust, this anger, greed, the pleasant and unpleasant emotions and states of mind... are in our natures as humans, and happiness and ultimate freedom come through accepting and embracing them and seeing that they are not `me' or `mine.'

    `Radical Acceptance' is a deeply kind and generous contribution to a suffering world. Truly a book with heart....more info


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