The Art of Living Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Art of Living talks about living a peaceful life through meditation and gratitude, especially by using the Vipassana meditation technique and the philosophy behind Buddhism, which promotes developing a clearer vision of life and seeing things as they truly are.

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Although meditation is often associated with hypnosis, trance, or mental relaxation, in the Buddhism religion it is used to clarify the mind and liberate it from all the inner chatter, irrelevant thoughts, and distress. 

This insight meditation is commonly referred to as Vipassana— an ancient practice used to carry self-introspection and observe your thoughts as they are.

This technique can train one’s mind to become more powerful, self-reliant, and observant. Vipassana may help you to reach a state of mindfulness, self-acknowledgment, and inner peace. 

Practicing it eases your mind by letting go of stress. However, there’s more to achieving inner peace and mindfulness than just this technique. 

Buddha was a true peace seeker and master of self-introspection, and his incredible spiritual skills helped him unveil a series of remarkable insights. 

The Art of Living explores them and many other concepts from Buddhism and meditation, which will change your perspective on life and help you achieve inner peace.

Here are three of my favorite lessons from the book:

  1. Once you realize that you’re an ephemeral being, your perspective on life will change drastically.
  2. Sila can help you reach a state of happiness and alleviate suffering.
  3. Practice meditation to help your brain, body, and spirit be homogenous and content.

If these lessons seem a little ambiguous, keep on reading, as we’ll explore them one by one!

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Lesson 1: Our being is in constant flux and is changing from second to second.

Everybody has heard about Buddha, the spiritual leader who became world-renowned for his enlightening way of living and for laying the foundation of Buddhism. 

To the world’s surprise, it seems that the religious figure has uncovered a few key facts about the human mind and body, long before they were discovered and proved by conventional, modern scientists.

As such, he found that the body was made of tiny, subatomic particles with a space between them. Moreover, they are constantly moving around, appearing and disappearing. In other words, our body is not a solid, fixed form, as we normally perceive it, but rather an ever-changing structure that flows throughout time. The mind is also in flux and undergoing four continuous processes.

Consciousness, perception, sensation, and reaction are all part of our brain’s activity. The first process is responsible for the simple acknowledgment of the things happening around us. It is not judging, nor dwelling on anything it encounters. 

Then, the perception decides if whatever we saw is positive or negative to us. Sensation makes us feel pleased and comfortable with something or the opposite. Lastly, we use a reaction to avoid something unpleasant or search for more pleasant and comfortable.

Lesson 2: Introduce Sila in your life, and you’ll find that it makes you more peaceful and content with yourself.

Sila, or morality, is a way of living. Throughout his life, Buddha advised that Sila can help anyone achieve a happier, more peaceful state of mind. 

Practicing it implies being a moral person that avoids any actions that harm other human beings, disengages from the unethical, and lives in peace with every being around them. 

By doing so, we become more peaceful and content with ourselves, knowing that we are in perfect harmony with the world. Essentially, that’s just how we’re naturally programmed to function. 

If we take care of those around us, the planet, help when someone’s in need, and avoid gossip, harmful actions, and negativity, we’ll connect better with our inner selves and everything around us.

Practicing Sila is meant to calm an agitated mind and bring peace and serenity within. Living a simple, minimalist life can also help you become more content and peaceful. 

Then, it’s important to avoid harmful words, and replace them with positive speech. Include truth and kindness in your words, and eliminate lies, harsh talk, and gossip. 

Follow up your words with actions. Don’t kill, injure, hurt, or harm living beings in any way. Instead, look to cure, treat, help, and bring peace to those around you. 

Carry these principles with you at your job, and seek to make a living from something that doesn’t perpetuate harm or hate, such as gambling, selling drugs, or promoting destructive behaviors.

Lesson 3: Meditation is a great way to connect your mind to the body and soul while finding inner peace.

Meditation, or Bhāvanā, implies balancing, controlling, and training our mind to become more peaceful, let go of anxieties and the inner chatter that occupies our mind throughout the day. 

If you have a troubled mind, and you find that you’re frustrated and feel unsettled inside, it becomes more difficult to perpetuate kindness and positivity, and that’s what Sila is about, right?

Living right and changing your mindset can be challenging, but it’s worth it when you succeed at doing so and find yourself at peace with your mind, body, and spirit. 

So how do you practice Bhāvanā? Start by sitting in a comfortable position and closing your eyes. The first few attempts can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but it’s alright. Change is not always pleasant at first.

When you first try to carry out an introspection, you’ll find that the mind chatter is impossible to quiet down. When that happens, just focus on your breathing. 

If you find that your mind starts drifting away from that to other thoughts, go back to your main focus, and that is your breathing pattern. Then, focus on being truly aware and living in the moment. Don’t think about your past, future, or ideal life.

Do that by keeping your focus on breathing and the present. Become conscious of your breathing, notice if it’s soft and slow, or fast and agitated, and engage with it. 

Lastly, try to concentrate solely on your inhales and exhales, without entertaining any other thoughts for a prolonged time. Connect with yourself in that very moment and let go of any external or internal interruptions.

The Art of Living Review

The journey to self-awareness and peaceful life can be challenging at first when we have to let go of our old destructive traits and adopt simplicity, minimalism, and kindness as our new mantra. 

The Art of Living is a great way to start this new path in life and explore the concepts behind Buddhism and spirituality in relation to your own mind, body, and spirit. Reading this book will open up a new perspective on oneself and life as we know it.

Who would I recommend The Art of Living summary to?

The 50-year-old person who is looking to alleviate accumulated stress and anxiety from work through meditation, the 38-year-old single mom who feels overwhelmed and wants to find peace through meditation, or the 40-year-old person interested in Buddhism and meditation.

Last Updated on November 28, 2022

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.