Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

Book Review — The Misleading Mind, by Karuna Cayton


Karuna Cayton, a psychotherapist and practicing Buddhist, has written an interesting book for non-Buddhists who are looking for ways to make their life more manageable. Based on the 2600 year-old principles of Buddhist psychology, it covers the general range of the Four Noble Truths and the eightfold path, but in a fashion that does not require extensive knowledge — any knowledge at all, really — of Buddhist teaching and principles.

“It is odd that we can describe our hands or our face but if we’re asked to describe our mind we can only offer vague, nebulous descriptions. That’s because, not examining the mind, we don’t know the mind. Knowing how our mind really functions is the first step to mental balance and health and, yes, greater happiness. We need to become explorers – curious about our idea of self, our mind, our emotions, how they function and how we can master them. As such, we’ll seek the knowledge, contemplation, and wisdom to become our own best therapist. Our discoveries become the pathway to solving our problems and revealing a happier and healthier way of being.”

The ideas covered in The Misleading Mind will not come as anything new to those who have even casually perused the Buddha’s teachings. However, in approaching them from the perspective of people with no knowledge at all of suffering and the causes of suffering as understood by Buddhists, Cayton has illuminated corners that may not have been examined even by long-term practitioners. These principles are presented in a way that is accessible to non-Buddhists, and at the same time can profitably be considered by experienced students.

Finally, unlike many writers, Cayton does not minimize the need for continuous, long-term work to effect the changes he promises.  While reasonably gentle, he insists we understand that we are the “captains of our souls,” that we have to work for what we desire, and that the ultimate responsibility for our happiness rests upon — and just above — our own shoulders.

The Misleading Mind: How We Create Our Own Problems and How Buddhist Psychology Can Help Us Solve Them, ©2012 by Karuna Cayton. New World Library.

Author: Bill

Stumbling down the Middle Path, one day at a time.

5 thoughts on “Book Review — The Misleading Mind, by Karuna Cayton

  1. Pingback: Four Noble Truths «

  2. Brad Warner’s most recent book is SEX, SIN, and ZEN. 🙂

  3. I, too, reviewed The Misleading Mind on “The Buddha Diaries.” It struck me, as I was reading it, just how many books are coming out now and saying pretty much the same thing. I get any number across my desk. Different avenues of approach, but the same material. I’m happy that the Buddha’s word appears to be getting out!

    • Hi Peter,

      When you come right down to it, there isn’t much to be said. The difficult thing for Americans, I believe, is that we’re conditioned to value complexity, and thus the simplicity and logic of Dharma tend to confuse us. I thought Cayton’s approach was quite accessible, if nothing really new.

      Frankly, the only recent book I’ve considered outstanding was Brad Warner’s last one — the name of which escapes me for the moment. And since, at the moment, I’m dying to get to bed, it must remain unapprehended.

      I’ll read your review in the morning. I was really busy this week and didn’t drop by.



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