Mindfulness and Madness:
Money, Food, Sex and the Sacred
Mindfulness is when we give our full attention to what we rarely give a moment’s thought to--nowness, when all of us, mind and body, is brought to the present moment. Madness, on the other hand, is the state of mind that compulsively jumps from one thing to the next, hitchhiking between past and future, but rarely landing in the here and now. This book explains, in plain language, how we can bring the power of mindfulness into everyday life to restore our sanity.
What Was in Buddha's Left Hand?: Tantric Wisdom to Transform Neurosis to Sanity
To be published by John Hunt Publishers March 2020 - order now
This book is about the Buddhist tantric teachings of the five elements—-earth, water, fire, wind, and space. These elements are living energies within each of us, and as we learn how to tune into them they become a system of personal transformation, guiding us how to integrate our many aspects so that we can become more authentic, more of who we really are.
“With a rare combination of intellectual clarity and heartfelt practicality, Ira Rechtshaffer applies Buddhist wisdom to the down-to-earth issues of daily life. His deep feeling for the sacred illuminates the powerful path he lays out for personal healing, transformation, and freedom. A gem of a book… really something special here!”
-Rick Hanson, Ph.D. Author of Buddha’s Brain: the Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.
“Based on years of experience as a psychotherapist and a life-long meditation practice, Ira Rechtshaffer has shown how both traditions combine to contribute to easing human suffering. He leads a reader along a path of discovery of the elements which make up personal identity, its struggles and the possibility of surcease. The book concludes with a delightful way of looking at personality in terms of the six Buddhist realms. From narcissism to neurosis, Rechtshaffer shows how mindfulness can heal our estrangement from ourselves.”
-Charles Fisher Ph.D. Professor Emeritus Brandeis University and author of Dismantling Discontent: Buddha’s Way Through Darwin's World.
“What Was in Buddha’s Left Hand builds on Ira Rechtshaffer’s many years as a psychotherapist and is a fruitful doorway to bring the elements from Tibetan Buddhist psychology into modern understanding.”
- Jack Kornfield, Ph.D. Author of A Path with Heartand Seeking the Heart of Wisdom
“It gives me great pleasure to endorse this book on the vast vision and minute particulars of the mandala principal. This important and comprehensive work illustrates the many aspects ——psychological, elemental, and sensory – of the five wisdom energies. We are in debted to Ira Rechtshaffer for contributing to our understanding of these profound teachings to bring about an embodied wholeness as well as a cosmic understanding.”
-Irini Rockwell, Author of The five Wisdom Energies: a Buddhist Way of Understanding Personalities, Emotions, and Relationships, and Natural Brilliance: a Buddhist System for Uncovering Your Strengths and Letting Them Shine.
Intimacy, Love and the Shadow of Desire
The Buddhist mandala (a symbol for wholeness) is composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space. These elements are wisdom energies that we all possess. They function like a Rosetta stone, helping us decipher the innumerable layers and aspects of ourselves and our interpersonal relationships. As we begin to tune into these elements, they unleash their power to animate and enliven our connection with others and with our everyday life, inspiring us to see, hear, and feel the world with refreshing openness.
Meditation as the Art of Everyday Life
We entered the world with a sense of the miraculous and with openness to raw experience. By the time we left childhood, we were taught to suppress the ordinary miracle of being. The problem is that the world is no longer enchanted for us as when we were children and ordinary things pulsated with life. Read More...
We’re larger than our experience of suffering at any moment. Buddhism suggests that we are the space of awareness within which suffering is occurring and that our true dimensions extend beyond it. Read More...
Living in the Moment
Throughout the day there are continual moments of openness and possibility, but also uncertainty. For the meditator, the challenge is whether we are able to linger in the space of 'don't know' and trust what happens next...You could discover that you feel like crying with joy, or maybe hugging a tree, or biting into a Macintosh apple, and surprise yourself. Read More...
Samsara: The Difference Between Dogs and Lions
When you’re with a dog and you throw a stick, the dog will faithfully chase the stick. When you throw a stick before a lion, the lion will chase you not the stick. . . . Like dogs we have been faithfully chasing all the stuff that the mind throws at us. We need to look at the "thrower" of the sticks rather than the mind's productions. Read More...
Mindfulness meditation suggests that it is refreshing to meet the nakedness of situations with your own nakedness, here and now. Outside of the immediacy of nowness we fail to genuinely appreciate our lives because we are struggling to survive in time, projecting ourselves into the future or attempting to resolve the past. Read More...
Shining a Light in the Darkness
There is a dark side of the mind that many spiritual practitioners unwittingly avoid... Meditation or prayer doesn't always shine a light into those areas because our "shadows" are heavily defended. Meditation may reveal the transparency of our ego, who we take ourselves to be, but that is only half the story. Read More...
Cultural Factors Shaping Buddha's Message
Every culture through which Buddhism radiated its wisdom shaped the Buddha's message to the mentality of its populace, and by doing so, offered novel and fresh opportunities for Buddha dharma to shine through. In the present cross fertilization of East and West, something very unique in the history of spirituality is being born. Read More...
Karma: Entrapment or Liberation
The Buddha taught that our thoughts manifest as words, and they in turn, manifest as behaviors, which develop into habits, and habits eventually harden into character or personality. We might add that character is destiny in that the compelling power of our habitual patterns shape our lives in conformity with who we take ourselves to be. Read More...
Even Yogis Get the Blues
Extending loving kindness to ourselves creates a fierce fire. As we open to our shadow aspects, the broken, wounded and inferior parts, we may experience shame and feel diminished. Yet, it is precisely these forgotten aspects of ourselves that cry out for our love so that we can be healed and whole. Read More...