Blessed Relief: What Christians Can Learn from Buddhists about Suffering

Takes you on a lively, sometimes light-hearted, journey through nine Buddhist practices that can bring "blessed relief" to a wide range of human suffering—and teaches you skills to reduce suffering in the long term for yourself and others.

Gordon Peerman

6 x 9, 208 pp | 978-1-59473-252-2

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A thoughtful, down-to-earth look at helpful ways to lessen human suffering.

This book takes you on a lively, sometimes light-hearted, journey through nine Buddhist practices that can bring “blessed relief” to a wide range of human suffering—and teaches you skills to reduce suffering in the long term for yourself and others.

  • The practices help you: Loosen the grip of suffering
  • Engage and question limiting views, thoughts and opinions
  • Deconstruct ten common assumptions
  • Be present in each moment
  • Survive emotional storms
  • Develop peaceful communication skills
  • Deepen communication with your partner
  • Appreciate mortality and the preciousness of life
  • Cultivate compassion

As you read the chapters and engage in each practice, you will work with your own stories of suffering—stories in which you have felt abandoned, deprived, subjugated, defective, excluded or vulnerable—and you will learn how to release yourself from suffering by investigating it with curiosity and kindness.

“A spiritual banquet ... to heal our psyches and awaken our hearts. Helps us open to the unconditional love that is intrinsic to both Christianity and Buddhism.”

Tara Brach, clinical psychologist; author, Radical Acceptance

“Both a moving personal story and a source of valuable insight for all those who are wrestling with questions of suffering in their lives. It is a serious book that is also fun to read.”

Phillip Moffitt, founder and president of the Life Balance Institute; author, Dancing With Life

“Meets our contemporary struggles with refreshing clarity and power. Peerman's understated humor in relating ordinary life encounters frequently had me weeping with the laughter of self-recognition.”

Marjorie J. Thompson, author, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life

“Exceptional.... With uncommon vulnerability, engaging humor, and sure-footed counsel, Gordon Peerman invites us to hear and make our own a far vaster story arising from deep sources of wisdom East and West, whose language conveys the liberating spaciousness of being truly awake, aware and alive.”

John S. Mogabgab, editor, Weavings Journal

“A guide to freedom from fear, filled with stories to make us laugh, sigh, cry, and wake up to compassion for ourselves and all the world.”

Margaret McGee, author, Sacred Attention: A Spiritual Practice for Finding God in the Moment

“Remarkable. A spiritual exploration that unites centuries of Buddhist teachings with Christian wisdom. [The] approach is not only inspired, but also eminently practical ... yet profoundly powerful.”

Derek Lin, translator/annotator, Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained

Introduction ix
The Buddha Way and the Christian Way ix
What Helps and What Doesn’t xi
Dropping Your Story Line xii
Finding Freedom xiii

1. Big Mind, Big Medicine 1
Everything Changes 1
The Heart of Mindfulness 5
The Weakest Link 7
Small Mind, Big Mind 10
Renunciation Practice 13
A Refuge from Words 16
Dropping into Freedom 19
Blessed Relief: The Three-Minute Breathing Space 24

2. The Cry for Help 27
The Why and the What of Suffering 27
An Exit from Hell 29
Bearing Suffering 32
The Work 36
Clearing the Lens 38
The Judging Mind Goes on Retreat 41
Blessed Relief: The Work 45

3. Beyond Belief 49
A Happy Accident 49
Spacious Awareness 52
Incline Your Mind 55
Who’s Talking? 57
The Cloud of Unknowing 60
Blessed Relief: The Practice of Inquiry 63

4. Quiet Ambition 65
Not Enough 65
Kind Attention 69
Spontaneous Joy 72
The Hungry Ghost 74
Blessed Relief: The Sacred Breath 77

5. An Instrument of Peace 79
Angr-r-r-y 79
Self-Soothing: Bringing Attentiveness to Anger 81
Self-Defining: Being Willing to Speak Your Truth 85
Self-Transcending: Bringing RAIN to Blame 91
Blessed Relief: Working with RAIN 98

6. Meeting Our Edges 101
“You All Belong” 101
The Failed Buddhist Bypass 104
Nonviolent Communication 110
May the Circle Be Unbroken 114
Blessed Relief: Nonviolent Communication (NVC) 117

7. Beginning Anew 121
Unwrapping the Experience 121
A Place to Begin 123
True Intimacy 125
Zazen in the Devil’s Cauldron 129
Blessed Relief: The Practice of Beginning Anew 134

8. The Dharma of Dying 137
Remembrances 137
The Great Way 140
Bowing to the Moment 143
Old Wounds 147
Blessed Relief: The Five Remembrances 150

9. Mobile Loaves and Fishes 153
Compassion Rising 153
Beyond Us and Them 157
A Retreat on the Streets 159
Softening the Heart 161
Blessed Relief: Compassion Practice 166

Afterword 168
Glossary 173
Suggested Resources 175
Acknowledgments 179
Credits 182