We live with minds as open and spacious as the deep blue sky. Living in Blue Sky Mind presents basic Buddhist teachings that keep us on the wholesome path of self-realization toward a happy life. Zen priest and Dharma Teacher Richard Gentei Diedrichs offers simple lessons, anecdotes of personal transformation, and reflective questions to guide us along Buddha's enlightened way, such as-- "Buddha advised that we not speak with malice if we want to create connection and happiness around us;"-- "We learn that to be happy, we need to end our suffering and the suffering of those around us;" and-- "We are fortunate to have a way to be happy with what we have and with who we are."
Richard Gentei Diedrichs believes that everyone can access and ultimately live within Blue Sky Mind - the vast, luminous, calm and clear mindscape that is often clouded by our thoughts, emotions, and anxiety. Seeking to share this powerful message with a larger audience, the author has encapsulated a series of family-focused Dharma talks into his latest book: Living in a Blue Sky Mind.
The author uses these talks to explore all the major topics in Buddhist philosophy and practice. In simple, straightforward prose, he explains key Buddhist concepts such as the 4 Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, the Perfections, the Wisdoms, the 3 Refuges, the Factors of Enlightenment, and the 3 Poisons that trap us. Living in a Blue Sky Mind will give the beginning practitioner a very good understanding of what one might believe and do while living as a Buddhist. At the same time, even a long time student of Buddhism can benefit from the book’s simple reminders.
The chapters are short, but the lessons are both powerful and specific. Many are punctuated by a personal story that places the teaching in the context of our daily decisions. For example, in “How We Talk,” the author describes the childhood experience of laughing and playing with his brother. They are having a great time, until he unthinkingly “trash talks” his brother, and turns their collective joy into collective misery.
The author’s ambitions go far beyond getting us to play nice in the sandbox. Mr. Diedrich’s wants to change our world, as he makes clear in the introduction to Living in a Blue Sky Mind:
“I sincerely believe that if every human on Earth meditated regularly, and followed even the spirit of Buddha’s teachings as I have described them here, we would live in entirely different world, a world based on lovingkindness, compassion, and wisdom.”
Changing the world may be a tall order, but Living in a Blue Sky Mind will certainly help readers just starting out on the path of Buddhism and meditation make practical sense of the Buddha’s teachings, which could easily change their lives.
The book has certainly made a subtle but meaningful change in my own life. As someone who once spent many years in the academic study of Buddhism, I still read plenty of Buddhist philosophy, but I’ve only loosely maintained my Buddhist practice. Reading Living in a Blue Sky Mind re-affirmed my need for a daily practice. I am setting the book next to my zafu, so that I can re-read the chapters as Dharma reminders prior to my meditation sessions at home.