Bhante Gunaratana - Bhante G., as he is affectionately called - has long been among the most beloved Buddhist teachers in the West. Ordained at twelve, he would eventually become the first Buddhist chaplain at an American university, the founder of a retreat center and monastery, and a bestselling author. Here, Bhante G. lays bare the often-surprising ups and downs of his seventy-five years, from his boyhood in Sri Lanka to his decades of sharing the insights of the Buddha, telling his story with the "plain-English" approach for which he is so renowned.
This is a most refreshing book from a Buddhist meditation teacher who lays bare his human failings and admits they are as much a part of his life as his achievements. It is also a fascinating globe- and culture-crossing autobiography of a man born in a small village in Sri Lanka with enough persistence and good kamma (Pali for karma) to see him through many vicissitudes. Author of the bestseller Mindfulness in Plain English, Bhante G., as he is affectionately known, repeatedly ran away from monasteries where he lived as a boy monk, stole things as a child, smoked and had traumatic fear-inducing accidents with water. As his story makes clear, his is a very human journey of teaching himself as well as others what the Buddha taught about how to live. That organizations that promote ethical living and spiritual development should also have their share of bickering, envy and bad behavior is an unsurprising part of his story, candidly told without excess rancor or blame. The monk-author is fluent in different cultures as well as languages, and his autobiography contributes to an understanding of the relationship between the American Buddhism of converts and traditional Asian Buddhism, more specifically the Theravada branch of Buddhism as practiced in his native Sri Lanka. This plain-English look back at 75 years of an admixture of adversity, humility and hard-won wisdom tells an engaging story that non-Buddhists can appreciate as well as Buddhists.