It’s been a pleasure to spend the last seven months reading together Montaigne, Sarah Blakewell, Peter Berger, and, above all, Pierre Hadot! Your fascination with him has deepened my own: The Present Alone Is Our Happiness and Philosophy as a Way of Life are full of “news we can use,” echoing Pema Chödrön.
In fact, her little book, Always Maintain Only a Joyful Mind frequently reminds me of Hadot’s work. Buddhism is a form, a choice, and a way of life. We can and must be attentive to this instant, this present moment, only moment. The 59 mind-training slogans are spiritual exercises to practice hour by hour, on the spot. They are a call to be aware of our inordinate self-cherishing and egoism, and drop them when we recognize what we are doing. One does well to “keep them at hand,” as the Stoics themselves advised long ago. Like Stephen Batchelor, she has given retreats over the decades, and has responded to innumerable questions of practitioners; she would remind people that the slogans are not theory, but therapy, in the root sense of the word, healing, for ourselves and our world.
This book is a condensed version of Start Where You Are, an extensive commentary on the 59. It would be easy to carry around with one throughout the day. Here are a few slogans with her succinct comments— Read the rest of this entry »