Book Review:
True Refuge

Tara Brach’s most recent book, True Refuge, is organized around the three classic gateways to freedom in Buddhism: truth of the present moment, love and awareness. Truth, she writes, “can only be discovered in the aliveness of this moment.” Regarding love, she observes that it “can only be experienced in this very heart, here and now.” And about awareness, she notes that it “can only be realized as we discover the space and wakefulness of our own mind.”

Brach’s previous book was the best seller, Radical Acceptance. She is a meditation teacher and clinical psychologist who is based in the Washington, D.C., area. She is also someone who has dealt with chronic pain for years. In her latest book, which is subtitled Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart, she shares personal stories from her own life that show how the three gateways to freedom have provided her with refuge in difficult times. In addition, she gives examples of how some of her clients have found sanctuary through these gateways.

Brach discusses recent scientific findings about the brain and the mind in True Refuge. She writes, “Regular meditation practice creates new pathways in our mind, ones that carry us home to the clarity, openness, and ease of presence.” She defines “presence” as “directly contacting our real, moment-to-moment experience.” As in Radical Acceptance, in this book Brach includes numerous guided reflections and meditations. The reflections and meditations wisely and compassionately explore various topics, such as forgiveness and lovingkindness.

This fascinating book culminates in a final chapter called, “A Heart That Is Ready for Anything.” In that chapter, Tara Brach assures us, “We don’t need to get somewhere or change ourselves—our true refuge is what we are.” Her book on finding peace and freedom in one’s own heart is an excellent addition to one’s collection of books of meditative readings. It’s the kind of book that one can gladly re-visit again and again.

See more features from the August 2014 issue